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My clown


Portnoy’s Complaint: freedom to move
Philip Roth Writer
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And the next chapters were bigger and what I realised, I'd also gotten with the psychoanalytic session wasn't just the freedom to say whatever I wanted to say, but to move however I wanted to move. That is, I didn't have to tell the story chronologically, and since the principle of association of ideas dictates the speech of an analytic patient or should, I too could move back and forth from one thing to another without any… without any seaming connection, you know. So there could be excursions off to the side. There could be digressions. The only book I knew that had operated through digression, digression, digression, was Lawrence Stone's Tristram Shandy, which I'd read in college. But I didn't… I wouldn't count that an influence. But it's there, you know.

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: Tristram Shandy, Lawrence Stone

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013