It is not difficult for me to talk with you of the novel “American Pastoral” by Philip Roth. It ‘a novel that I have passionately loved from the first page. Those pages in which Roth, through his alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, introduces readers to the main character of the novel: the Swade.
It is not difficult because this story is the prototype of many subsequent texts in which American writers have been engaged to represent America, this great and immense country, with a desire for the Truth that the Europeans can’t capture, usually, between the lines of American classical novels and movies.
The country that Roth allows us to see in these pages is not the America that we know, a country where social dispute is particularly interested in solving practical problems in the short term.
The America of the main character and his daughter, deuteragonist of the novel, is a country where political contestation has become harsh and extreme. A form of protest, of struggle, which for Europeans and Italians in particular, reminds to our sad recent history. In a sense – in my mind – this story is often associated to the movie “Blow Up” by Michelangelo Antonioni. For the same reason so.
American Pastoral is considered by many to Roth’s masterpiece, perhaps rightly so.
I personally believe that the best book of this great writer is “The Human Stain” but I admit that it is a subjective assessment. Certainly the strength of American Pastoral is unrivaled by any other novels written by Roth.
Immediately you recognize the force, which arises from the irreconcilable opposition of Swede’s ideas and those of his daughter.
An irresolvable and painful conflict; a pain that goes beyond the familiar misadventures of a child.
Is a pain of an American citizen for what, in a sense, constitutes a betrayal of the Nation, of his lifestyle, of his philosophy.
This force, this underground river of not written words makes this book an exciting experience that only an obsessive and continuous reading allows you to fully understand.
The social critique that Roth gives us in these pages is obvious. Less obvious is the effort that the autor makes to induce the reader to engage in reading this novel. An effort to focus on diversity and on the danger of a world dominated by a single idea.
In a sense, what is being recently accessed in the world and America in particular, makes clear the ability and the duty, at the same time, of the writers of earlier times, to grasp the concerns of his contemporaries.
Roth American Pastoral has fully discharged its task.
Roth has shown how the idea of a perfect world, dominated by solid ideals and well-being is not enough for the happiness of people.
The writer has showed the feeling of revenge against the constraints of that world of its rules. Feelings that so remind of today’s youth protests on Wall Street.
This is everything you could want in a novel. Addressing the reality with sufficient strength to creep into our consciousness.
American Pastoral is this kind of novel, perhaps the best.
una recensione di Marco Arcieri