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The Breast by Philip Roth

The Breast (1972)

by Philip Roth

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7201720,814 (3.08)41
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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English (12)  Italian (3)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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 |
Only Philip Roth could tell this story of a middle aged man who metamorphoses into a 155 pound breast. Yes, you read that right. This is unlike any other novel I have read by Roth due to its Kafkaesque nature. What does it mean to change from a person to an object? Roth is somehow able to do the question justice with wit and psychological depth. Wonderful novella! ( )
  hemlokgang | Oct 21, 2014 |
Premise: A man is transformed in a Kafkaesque manner into an enormous breast. With a plot as seemingly silly as this, it's a little hard to imagine The Breast being a serious novella about self-control, insanity, and sexuality - and yet that's what it is. Not Philip Roth's best work by a long shot, but worth checking out if you're looking for a short, quirky read that's light-hearted yet thought-provoking. ( )
  alexnisnevich | May 21, 2011 |
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Cominciò stranamente. Ma poteva forse esserci un altro inizio?
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