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The Breast (1972)

by Philip Roth

Series: Kepesh Books (1)

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7652021,541 (3.07)46
Like a latter-day Gregor Samsa, Professor David Kepesh wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed. But where Kafka's protagonist turned into a giant beetle, the narrator of Philip Roth's richly conceived fantasy has become a 155-pound female breast. What follows is a deliriously funny yet touching exploration of the full implications of Kepesh's metamorphosis—a daring, heretical book that brings us face to face with the intrinsic strangeness of sex and subjectivity.… (more)
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» See also 46 mentions

English (14)  Italian (3)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Man turns into 155 pound breast. Such a quick read it was amusing. Add another 35 pages and it might have been tedious? ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
This is a short novella by Philip Roth and like Kafka and Gogol, the narrator becomes something else. He becomes a 155 lb female breast. While a cockroach is disgusting and a nose would be odd at least it doesn't require clothing, a breast is sexual and generally kept covered. I will quote, "Roth has a genius for making everything potentially beautiful and joyful filthy and disgusting. . . . Roth writes dirty books, not pornography." https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/A-New-Fable-for-Critics%3A-Philip-Roth%27s.... There is a good deal of sexual writing that I did not appreciate. The question is, did Roth write this to make some quick money, did he sit down and think, I can write something like Kafka and Gogol. Not long. Fast to the publisher. The Breast is concluded with a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo". The last line, "You must change your life." The breast is an object, a thing that really is just passive. It is not fully human. The breast cannot communicate much on how it feels other than arousal. To live life, you must become more that a statue, you must be active, make changes. ( )
  Kristelh | Sep 17, 2020 |
This book was suggested to me during a discussion about an irksome segment of the 20thC literary canon: middle-aged male Americans obsessed with adultery, daddy issues or declining sexual appetite, usually relayed through obnoxiously academic or otherwise “intellectual” main characters, who think their navel-gazing is Such Serious Business. My example was John Updike; a friend suggested this novella by Philip Roth as a fun example of the subgenre.

And fun it was: The breast deals indeed with an aging American academic who is full of himself and who is obsessed with grandstanding through bragging about his intelligence and his sexual prowess. One day, though, he finds he has transformed into a female breast unattached to a body, an excessively grotesque development which leads to an unholy amount of introspection.

The fun part is that the novella is run through with a layer of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness: Roth walks the line between playing the subgenre straight and highlighting its pathological absurdity. Its over-the-top quality is what saves it: I don’t think it would have worked if any of it were any less outrageous. ( )
1 vote Petroglyph | Jun 27, 2019 |
Ok, this is really a short story, and it reads easily. I was not offended or shocked by anything, but I’m not entirely sure what the author was trying to say or accomplish.

I just spent a good part of my afternoon trying to imagine what a 6 ft long, 155 lb female breast would like like, and how in hell the poor guy who turned in to the breast is able to communicate. Then I realized this is silly, so I’m moving on.

Wtf, #1001books 🤔 ( )
  sprainedbrain | Jun 2, 2018 |
A sexually active male professor turns into a breast overnight and is placed in hospital. After much turmoil as to why this happened to him and what he should do with himself for the rest of his life, he accepts his lot in life. At one point he believes his new life as a breast is punishment for having taught fiction literature to students! I knew it; much better to stick to non-fiction for surely this is proof that too much fiction makes irrevocable physical changes. Thankfully the book is short. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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Cominciò stranamente. Ma poteva forse esserci un altro inizio?
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Like a latter-day Gregor Samsa, Professor David Kepesh wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed. But where Kafka's protagonist turned into a giant beetle, the narrator of Philip Roth's richly conceived fantasy has become a 155-pound female breast. What follows is a deliriously funny yet touching exploration of the full implications of Kepesh's metamorphosis—a daring, heretical book that brings us face to face with the intrinsic strangeness of sex and subjectivity.

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