Abstract

This essay approaches The Counterlife (1986) in the context of Philip Roth's ongoing treatment of contemporary literary theory. Figures from Roth's later works, such as Coleman Silk and Amy Bellette, express hostility towards deconstruction and other recent critical practices. However, The Counterlife engages directly and receptively with Jacques Derrida's essay "Living On—Borderlines," Derrida's contribution to the seminal 1979 volume Deconstruction and Criticism. Though The Counterlife should not necessarily be read as an endorsement of deconstruction or post-structuralism, its author does seem inspired by, or in agreement with, Derrida's concepts of "unreadability" and "invagination" in his characterization of a figure that I identify as the novel's spectral reader-scholar. A method of reading informed by post-structuralism cannot only be applied to The Counterlife, it is inscribed at the borders of a novel that is among the most formally experimental of Roth's works.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5278
Print ISSN
1547-3929
Pages
pp. 161-177
Launched on MUSE
2012-08-12
Open Access
No
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