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The Ghost Writer (1979)

by Philip Roth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Zuckerman Bound (1)

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1,602307,808 (3.68)93
THE GHOST WRITER introduces Nathan Zuckerman in the 1950s; a budding writer infatuated with the Great Books, discovering the contradictory claims of literature and experience while an overnight guest in the secluded New England farmhouse of his literary idol, E. I. Lonoff. At Lonoff's, Zuckerman meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background who turns out to be a former student of Lonoff's and who may also have been his mistress. Zuckerman, with his active, youthful imagination, wonders if she could be the paradigmatic victim of Nazi persecution. If she were, it might change his life-The first volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound, THE GHOST WRITER is about the tensions between literature and life, artistic truthfulness and conventional decency - and about those implacable practitioners who live with the consequences of sacrificing one for the other.… (more)

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» See also 93 mentions

English (27)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This is the fourth novel by Philip Roth I've read. I enjoyed, for the most part, though I did think it wasn't long enough. I would have given it five stars, except that the plot twist I thought was coming didn't happen. If it had happen, I would have gladly given it five starts.
I have the feeling I will have to read it again to understand it. ( )
  ZelmerWilson | Oct 31, 2019 |
I don't have anything particularity negative to say about this book. However, I found it a bit hard to get through. I didn't really care for the characters and there's not much of a plot. There are some interesting thoughts on the Jewish experience which I enjoyed pondering and it's about writers which is always interesting to me. ( )
  ZephyrusW | Jun 18, 2019 |
Concept was great. Writing was great. Ending? Not so much. (Apologies for not having read it sooner! Came out in 1979.) ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | Sep 9, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Dec 10 '09):
-In this peculiar little novel from 1979, Roth introduces Nathan Zuckerman, here a 23 year old budding short story writer. The four chapters present essentially four distinct narratives, though the central story is Nathan's pilgrimage-like visit to his literary hero, E.I. Lonoff, at his rural New England home.
-Nathan is intimidated..,though his "maestro" is a bit self-effacing... They talk literature, mull over jewishness, and touch on Lonoff's path from Russia to New York to now. Nathan discovers a young woman (Amy Bellette) living with the married Lonoff's, and he's doubly intrigued - with her looks, and with what her true role is in being here...
-Too excited to sleep in his guest room, he ruminates on the current impasse he's entered with his family, .. over a story Nathan is soon to have published. The story could bolster negative jewish stereotypes, they contend, and this "subplot" is laid out in chapter 2.
-Returning to the present, Nathan drifts to sleep, and dreamily creates a bio of Amy Bellette, a kind of revised history involving a young girl and her diary (hint-hint). This is an exceptionally detailed imagining..
-The final scene, the next morning, is a jumbled melodrama, with a lone Nathan standing slack-jawed (along with this reader) at the Lonoff's front door. A pointless ending? Yes. But this may be one of those novels in which the parts work better than the whole.. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Oct 3, 2017 |
Loved meeting Zuckerman. Wonder how much a trip to Connecticut to meet Philip Roth would feel like a visit to E.I. Lonoff. Pet theory: this book is an extended rewrite of Bob Dylan's great "Went to See The Gypsy." Thoughts? ( )
  benjaminsiegel | Jul 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roth, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bofill, MireiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, Georgesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heindel, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mantovani, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was the last daylight hour of a December afternoon more than twenty years ago - I was twenty-three, writing and publishing my first short stories, and like many a Bildungsroman hero before me, already contemplating my own massive Bildungsroman - when I arrived at his hideaway to meet the great man.
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THE GHOST WRITER introduces Nathan Zuckerman in the 1950s; a budding writer infatuated with the Great Books, discovering the contradictory claims of literature and experience while an overnight guest in the secluded New England farmhouse of his literary idol, E. I. Lonoff. At Lonoff's, Zuckerman meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background who turns out to be a former student of Lonoff's and who may also have been his mistress. Zuckerman, with his active, youthful imagination, wonders if she could be the paradigmatic victim of Nazi persecution. If she were, it might change his life-The first volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound, THE GHOST WRITER is about the tensions between literature and life, artistic truthfulness and conventional decency - and about those implacable practitioners who live with the consequences of sacrificing one for the other.

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