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Proust made no impact on me


The writer's passion for thoroughness
Philip Roth Writer
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I think most... most novelists relish the details, relish the individual line, relish the three lines of description. All the stuff that's never spoken about in... in reviews and so on – never mentioned – is where the writer's passion for thoroughness resides. There are... there were novelists who... whose passion wasn't for thoroughness, if you think of [Albert] Camus and The Stranger. It's... it's very austere, it's very slender. And... and then on the other hand there are the books rich with detail and it's your delight marshalling all the detail and finding a way of expressing it. It's... maybe it goes back to Ulysses, maybe the modern writer's education in detail begins in Ulysses. Joyce was passionate about them, had to have every detail right, and that's more or less the way I... I feel and most of the novelists I value feel.

The fame of the American writer Philip Roth (1933-2018) rested on the frank explorations of Jewish-American life he portrayed in his novels. There is a strong autobiographical element in much of what he wrote, alongside social commentary and political satire. Despite often polarising critics with his frequently explicit accounts of his male protagonists' sexual doings, Roth received a great many prestigious literary awards which include a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997, and the 4th Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Ulysses, James Joyce

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013