Philip Roth’s Literary “In-Laws”: From Kafka to Kundera
Philip Roth can be called a miracle in the contemporary American literary world. His works are numerous and he has won numerous awards. He is known as “a living myth of literature”. In 2005, Ross became the third writer whose works were published in a comprehensive and conclusive edition by the American Library while he was still alive. Philip Roth is an anomaly in the contemporary world of literature. As a leader among the second generation of immigrant writers, he has won the attention of the world with his ever-changing, staggering style and mixed reviews. The most dramatic thing was when the winner of the 2011 Man Booker International Prize was determined, one of the jury members, Carmen? Ms Khalil walked away in a rage, claiming that “he [Ross] kept the same theme over and over again, almost in every book. It was like he was sitting on your face and taking your breath away. “Carmen? Ms. Khalil said, “I didn’t see him as a writer at all. I knew early on that I wouldn’t let him pass the first review, so I was surprised he stayed. He was the only one I didn’t appreciate — the others People are very nice.” In 2012, Rose, who was about to be in his eighties and getting older and stronger, believed that he had brought his talents to the extreme, so he retired bravely and announced that he would close his pen. Roth’s literary world seems to have closed the door, but the craze for Roth’s criticism has been one after another, which is spectacular!
As an academic writer, Roth undoubtedly has a broad vision, and his ability to appreciate and accept is self-evident. Wikipedia’s “Philip Roth” entry shows that Roth is influenced by many writers, the master of psychological realism Henry James bears the brunt, Franz Kafka, Saul Bellow, JD Salinger, Milan Kundera Wait for a group of literary masters to be among them. After we have read Roth’s works, we will find out that Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera may be called “in-laws” of Roth’s literature.
Perhaps the literary world of Philip Roth is too noisy, and people tend to overlook his explicit or implicit literary connections with his Jewish predecessor, Franz Kafka, the “burrowing bird in the cellar”. Most people who are familiar with Roth’s works and comments will notice that the author’s photo in the early and mid-term Roth’s publications is his study in the background, followed by a portrait of Kafka when he was forty years old. Roth wrote that Kafka’s photographs were the objects of his constant gaze. In 1972, when “Portnow’s Chief Complaint” became popular in European and American literary circles, Philip Roth made a high-profile trip to Prague to visit Franz Kafka’s cemetery.
In 1919, Kafka wrote his famous “To the Father”. This letter is extremely valuable in literature, education, psychology, ethics, etc., and it is deeply loved by Ross! He even asked students in the classroom to copy this letter to write a letter to their parents. Some critics pointed out that Kafka’s letter provided inspiration and material for Roth’s two memoir-style works “Facts: Autobiography of a Novelist” and “Inheritance”. Kafka’s shadow looms in Portnow’s hearty monologue in “Portnow’s Chief Complaint”. Philip Roth, an American writer, has a European “literary father” and inherited the novel narrative gene from Kafka to Roth, describing the embarrassment, confession and resistance of the Jewish son in trouble under the paternal authority. After his trip to Prague, Roth apparently absorbed some of Kafka’s modernist techniques. Roth’s third period works “Breast”, “My Life as a Man” and “Professor of Lust” are variants of Kafkaesque stories. “Breast” is very good in “Metamorphosis”, but the variants are different. In “Metamorphosis”, Gregor Samsa turned into a beetle, and Professor Kepesh turned into a huge breast. Gong Yiqu, one is that people are alienated by “things”, and the other is that people are alienated by “desire”. “My Life as a Man” is Roth’s own style that embodies various themes and techniques of Kafka, obviously benefiting from Kafka’s “Judgment” and “Castle”. Ross himself made no secret of his admiration and admiration for Kafka. In the article “Gaze at Kafka” published in 1973, he used an intimate present tense to describe that Kafka ran away from home before 1924 and thus The story of feeling guilty while on his deathbed revising the proofs of The Hunger Artist.
Kafka and Philip Roth are more influenced by literary temperament and spiritually. Kafka’s novels reveal an absurd scene full of irrationality, personal, melancholy, and lonely emotions. Roth is also influenced by this temperament, and there is always a kind of Kafka-like sadness in his works. Kafka’s and Roth’s heroes are often caught in a predicament from which they cannot successfully escape, and these predicaments are astonishing and ridiculously empty! The protagonist is often contradictory and idiotic. Their guilt stems from his exorcising impulse, and their troubles are uncontrollable self-inflicted troubles. At the same time, they themselves kill the precious sense of happiness. The main period of Kafka’s life and creative activities was around the First World War. Family factors and social environment caused him to be isolated from society and others, making Kafka live in pain and loneliness all his life. The corruption of the society, the tyranny of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the double troubles of political and ethnic conflicts, the poverty and hardship of the people’s life, and the decline of the economy, all these deepened the depression of the sensitive and depressed Kafka. Therefore, the strangeness of society, loneliness and fear that haunt him all the time have become the eternal theme of his creation. No matter how hard the protagonist fights, the powerful invisible external force always controls everything, making you involuntarily accompanied by fear and anxiety, and eventually perishes. While permeated with rebellious thoughts and stubbornly showing unwillingness to give up hope, it also shows a fatalistic thought of being powerless and helpless to everything. Roth inherits Kafka’s Jewish literary heritage, the long history of racial vagrancy of the Jewish nation, the historical anti-Semitism and the traumatic memory left by the nightmarish Holocaust, the issues of race and alienation in contemporary American society, McCarthyism’s impact on The destruction of human nature also makes Roth’s protagonists experience alienation, strangeness, loneliness and fear. At the same time, they are also helpless rebels. In the face of history, disease and even aging, Kafkas, Ross, Zuckerman, and Kepesh are powerless and helpless, and they all sighed in despair at the end! Kafka’s works are highly autobiographical, and Roth’s ever-changing protagonist series makes discerning readers laugh. This is clearly the stubborn and gloomy old man Philip Roth!
If Kafka gave Roth a gloomy and profound literary quality, then as a relative of “Eastern Europe”, Milan Kundera shaped Philip Roth’s literary concepts with the influence of his novel art research and concepts. Della’s understanding of the situation and history of Eastern Europe at that time indirectly provided Roth with a spatial impression and literary materials of another place where the Jewish people moved. Philip Roth was born in the United States in 1933. From a spatial point of view, he was isolated from Eastern Europe. However, the life experience and textual impressions of the Jewish pioneers in Eastern Europe and Kundera’s attitude towards totalitarianism became Roth’s historical imagination and historical discourse. a part of! From “A Feast in Prague” to “Sherlock in Action”, the spatial location responds to the stylistic elements. It is not difficult to see the inextricable bond between Primo Levi, a writer in Central and Eastern Europe, who Roth wrote and thought about, and Kundera. Kundera once said in a conversation with Ross: “If a kind of fear has existed in human psychology for a long time, then it must tend to happen.” The fear in Ross’s works is the Jewish nation under the shadow of history. The results and manifestations of social reality tremors also reflect Roth’s worries and fears about the future of the Jewish nation. It can be seen that Ross’s fear was given by Kafka and Kundera.
On the homepage of the Roth Research Association, “Sheer Playfulness and Deadly Seriousness are my closest friends.” is Roth’s motto, which reflects Roth’s attitude towards humor. Roth is very familiar with Kundera’s “Laughing and Forgetting”. In the postscript, Roth quotes Kundera’s words, “The devil laughs because the world created by God is meaningless to him; the angel laughs because the world created by God Everything in the created world has meaning.” Roth’s paradoxical humor comes from the relationship between essence and paradox in Kundera’s novels, the presentation of the ultimate paradox, the exploration of self-paradox and the display of existential paradox . Most of the protagonists in Roth’s works endure torture and suffering in obedience and resistance, tradition and modernity, rationality and sensibility, love and desire, unable to extricate themselves, and have a heavy depression and hesitation of “unbearable lightness of life”. Kundera’s art of polyphonic novels has also had an impact on Roth’s novel structure, “Anti-Life” is a typical example. Ross is an eccentric and elf writer. The most incredible thing about him is the irreconcilability of his works, which is reflected in his works, that is, he added some Kundera-style banter and ridicule. Is the explicit erotic description in Roth’s works also related to his influence by Kundera? Obviously, as an academic writer, Roth knows how to deal with erotic issues in “great” and classic works, and he does the opposite, of course there are reasons and examples. Quite interestingly, when Roth interviewed Kundera in 1980, he specifically asked the latter the question “What does sex mean to you?” Kundera told Roth that “the deepest secret is hidden in sex”, Later, Roth mentioned Milan Kundera’s point of view many times in interviews, and there are often bold descriptions of sex in Roth’s works, such as some in Dying Flesh and Portnow’s Chief Complaint. Fragment, it’s no wonder that Roth’s creation has been controversial along the way. But Ross still writes “Stories of the Body” to himself, because he believes that “the body contains as many life stories as the mind.”