Abstract

When one of Operation Shylock's Philip Roths is confined in a Jerusalem classroom he is transported to the Hebrew school of his childhood by the verse recounting Jacob's struggle at Peniel, written in Hebrew on the blackboard. Roth determines that his inception as a writer occurred in the Hebrew school and that "every English word" he has since written stems from a script that, to his Anglophone mind, appears to run inversely. This essay examines the tropes of inversion in which Roth engages both Hebrew and the supplanter, Jacob. Reading Operation Shylock as the concluding volume of a tetralogy of "Roth Books" that encodes the struggle of a son to achieve his own paternal inheritance, I argue that Roth transforms the Hebrew school from a site of confinement to one of structural paradox, like Peniel itself, where an impossible struggle is the very means by which inheritance is grasped.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5278
Print ISSN
1547-3929
Pages
pp. 153-166
Launched on MUSE
2010-11-06
Open Access
No
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