This is about age and energy, death and desire in which I try to equate the actions of Roth’s late heroes with his late style. It has implications for the work of artists in their later years, not only for Roth who is 80, but others such as Margaret Atwood (74), Philip Glass (76), Don DeLillo (77), Leonard Cohen (79) and Toni Morrison (82). Age and art are my concerns—or how an artist’s imagination confronts the nearness of death and closure of a career. Pothus, the God of Longing in Greek mythology, hovers over all, as Roth replaces what he once called “the fourth voice, a less page-bound voice” (Lee 177), with a more contemplative, elegiac voice focused more on content than literary affect. This late voice reflects, rather than acts, preferring postponement to excitement. “Opening the first page of any Philip Roth is like hearing the ignition on a boiler roar into life. Passion is what we’re going to get, and plenty of it” a reviewer wrote in 1998 (Grant). That is no longer the case.


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