American Masters explores the life and career of Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning novelist Philip Roth, often referred to as the greatest living American writer.
Take a ride on the Philip Roth Tour Bus and see the sights of Roth’s Newark, New Jersey — his hometown and setting of several of his books, like Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy’s Complaint and I Married a Communist.
Portnoy’s Complaint: the book that made Philip Roth.
Philip Roth reads from his book, Portnoy’s Complaint. As Martha Saxton wrote in Literary Guild in 1974, it’s the story of “a lust-ridden, mother addicted young Jewish bachelor.”
The writing process of Philip Roth: “I invent a character as I go along,” he says. “You must find everything about this man. Who he is, where he’s from, what he’s done, what his family is.”
Roth says, “There’s a journalistic side to writing novels,” in mixing real life with fiction. “You can’t invent off of nothing.”
An interview with Philip Roth: Unmasked co-writer and co-director William Karel, a French film director and author known for his historical and political documentaries, including Dark Side of the Moon, Looking for Nicolas Sarkozy, The World According to Bush, 1929, Poison d’avril, La fille du juge.
Philip Roth reads from his book, American Pastoral (1997). It’s Roth’s elegy for the 20th Century’s promises of prosperity, civic order and domestic bliss.
Philip Roth on obscenity. While it’s not all too uncommon for a writer to turn to the obscene from time to time, Roth made it a sort of trademark — especially in his book, Portnoy’s Complaint (1969).
Philip Roth talks about his friendship with the Italian writer Primo Levi, author of If This Is a Man (1947) and The Periodic Table (1975).
Philip Roth thinks the screen — the movie screen, the TV screen, the computer screen — will take the “serious readers” away from serious writing.