Everyman by Philip Roth

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Synopsis

Philip Roth's new novel is a candidly intimate yet universal story of loss, regret, and stoicism. The best-selling author of The Plot Against America now turns his attention from "one family's harrowing encounter with history" (New York Times) to one man's lifelong skirmish with mortality.

The fate of Roth's everyman is traced from his first shocking confrontation with death on the idyllic beaches of his childhood summers, through the family trials and professional achievements of his vigorous adulthood, and into his old age, when he is rended by observing the deterioration of his contemporaries and stalked by his own physical woes.

A successful commercial artist with a New York ad agency, he is the father of two sons from a first marriage who despise him and a daughter from a second marriage who adores him. He is the beloved brother of a good man whose physical well-being comes to arouse his bitter envy, and he is the lonely ex-husband of three very different women with whom he's made a mess of marriage. In the end he is a man who has become what he does not want to be.

The terrain of this powerful novel -- Roth's twenty-seventh book and the fifth to be published in the twenty-first century -- is the human body. Its subject is the common experience that terrifies us all.

Everyman takes its title from an anonymous fifteenth-century allegorical play, a classic of early English drama, whose theme is the summoning of the living to death.
 

About Philip Roth

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Philip Roth was born in New Jersey in 1933.  He studied literature at Bucknell University and the University of Chicago.  His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1960.  He has lived in Rome, London, Chicago, New York City, Princeton, and New England.  Since 1955, he has been on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where is now Adjunct Professor of English.  He is also General Editor of the Penguin Books series "Writers from the Other Europe."  Recently he has been spending half of each year in Europe, traveling and writing.
 
Published May 9, 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 193 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Everyman

Kirkus Reviews

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He enjoys a successful career as an advertising agency’s art director, but fails at marriage (losing three wives, as he pursues countless other women), and is almost as disastrous a parent, suffering permanent estrangement from the two sons of his first marriage, but achieving a sustaining relati...

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The New York Times

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For Philip Roth, the violent upsurge of sexual desire in the face of old age is the opposition of man to his own creation, death.

May 07 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

The New York Times

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"Everyman," the title of Philip Roth's flimsy new novel, announces that the book's hero is meant to be a sort of representational figure: an average Joe, an ordinary guy, an homme moyen sensuel.

Apr 26 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

The New York Times

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David Kepesh in "The Dying Animal" claims the phenomenon as the undeniable assertion of "erotic birthright," and this holds good for Philip Roth's unnamed — perhaps because he is, Roth forces us to admit — Everyman.

May 07 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

The Guardian

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Everyman Philip Roth Vintage £6.99 Everyman is a short, bleak punch of a novel, alluding to the 15th-century genre of allegorical morality plays in which death is often summoned to warn a complacent character of his impending end and a general Christian message is illuminated.

Mar 25 2007 | Read Full Review of Everyman

The Guardian

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Everyman by Philip Roth (Vintage, £6.99) Here is something to put a spring in your step.

Mar 31 2007 | Read Full Review of Everyman

The Guardian

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Everyman by Philip Roth Jonathan Cape £10, pp182 For a decade now, we have lived with the glory of late Philip Roth.

Apr 30 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

The Guardian

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Everyman by Philip Roth 192pp, Jonathan Cape, £10 It takes a Philip Roth to have the nerve to give the resonant title Everyman to a small novel about a retired advertising executive turned amateur artist who dies prematurely while undergoing a heart operation.

Apr 29 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

Publishers Weekly

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And yet, despite its coy title, the book is both universal and very, very specific, and Roth watchers will not be able to stop themselves from comparing the hero to Roth himself.

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BC Books

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The book is essentially the narrator looking back on his life and pondering death as his body and health betray him as he ages.

May 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

NPR

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Critic Alan Cheuse reviews Philip Roth's latest work, Everyman — a novel that follows myriad illnesses and grief plaguing the life of an aging and retired ad executive.

May 02 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

Book Reporter

The jacket cover of Philip Roth's new novel, EVERYMAN, explains the title: "EVERYMAN takes its title from an anonymous fifteenth-century allegorical play, a classic of early English drama, whose theme is the summoning of the living to death."

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Everyman

AV Club

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When Roth's everyman embarks on a sexually adventurous, doomed affair with an unstable model, Roth captures both the indignity of a mid-life crisis, and the deep sense of need behind it.

May 10 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

About.com

And, to a large degree, he achieves it, in that singular way that Roth does, flattering himself - and by extension, flattering his male readers - in creating a hero undone by degrees, but virile to the last.

Dec 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Everyman

PopMatters

Philip Roth’s Everyman is about death, and little else, and is based on a grim medieval morality play in which an ordinary man is summoned by Death to appear before God’s judgment seat.

May 23 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

London Review of Books

But where in American Pastoral and The Plot against America the battle of good and evil is enacted in the course of the novel, in Everyman the battle is already lost: there can be no arguing with Death in the way that Swede Levov can argue with his daughter Merry, or Mr Roth with Rabbi Bengelsdorf.

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New York Magazine

“Should he ever write an autobiography,” Everyman muses at one point, “he’d call it ‘The Life and Death of a Male Body.’ ” He clings to surges of desire, ogling girls on the beach with a neediness that even he finds pathetic.

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New York Magazine

He suffers through a terrifying procedure without general anesthesia: “It was a mistake, a barely endurable mistake, because the operation lasted two hours and his head was claustrophobically draped with a cloth, and the cutting and scraping took place so close to his ear, he could hear every mov...

May 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Everyman

Project MUSE

Philip Roth's Everyman, his twenty-seventh book, is all about death, and appropriately its title on the dust jacket appears boxed in red against a background of black.

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Reader Rating for Everyman
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