The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.

— Philip Roth

The most fulfilling Philip Roth quotes that will activate your inner potential

I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway.

I would prefer to, I assure you -- it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.

51

The only obsession everyone wants: 'love.

' People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you're whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You're whole, and then you're cracked open.

42

The horror of being caged has lost its thrill.

39

Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them.

The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise.

36

World War III will be triggered off not by suppressed nationalists seeking political independence, as happened the first time around when the Serbs at Sarajevo shot the heir to the Austrian throne, but by some semiliterate, whacked-out "loner" who lobs a rocket into a nuclear arsenal in order to impress Brooke Shields.

26

Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.

18

Is an intelligent human being likely to be much more than a large-scale manufacturer of misunderstanding?

15

Literature takes a habit of mind that has disappeared.

It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing.

13

When I was a child... I was watching a snowstorm, and hopefully asked, 'Momma, do we believe in winter?'

11

Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.

10

Unless one is inordinately fond of subordination, one is always at war.

10

Sheer Playfulness and Deadly Seriousness are my closest friends.

10

About Philip Roth

Quotes 157 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Novelist
Birthday October 16

American society [...] not only sanctions gross and unfair relations among men, but it encourages them. Now, can that be denied? No. Rivalry, competition, envy, jealousy, all that is malignant in human character is nourished by the system. Possession, money, property--on such corrupt standards as these do you people measure happiness and success.

10

Satire is moral outrage transformed into comic art.

9

People are unjust to anger - it can be enlivening and a lot of fun.

9

The only way to have a funeral is to invite everyone who ever knew the person and just wait for the accident to happen-somebody who comes in out of the blue and says the truth. Everything else is table manners.

9

Seeing is believing and believing is knowing and knowing beats unknowing and the unknown.

8

Sex is all the enchantment required. Do men find women so enchanting once the sex is taken out? Does anyone find anyone that enchanting unless they have sexual business with them? Who else are you enchanted by? Nobody.

8

There's something every woman wants, and that's a man to blame.

6

Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.

6

To become a celebrity is to become a brand name.

There is Ivory Soap, Rice Krispies, and Philip Roth. Ivory is the soap that floats; Rice Krispies the breakfast cereal that goes snap-crackle-pop; Philip Roth the Jew who masturbates with a piece of liver.

5

A Jewish man with parents alive is a fifteen-year-old boy, and will remain a fifteen-year-old boy until they die!

5

You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn't annihilate human nature.

5

You go to someone and you think, 'I'll tell him this.

' But why? The impulse is that the telling is going to relieve you. And that's why you feel awful later--you've relieved yourself, and if it truly is tragic and awful, it's not better, it's worse---the exhibitionism inherent to a confession has only made the misery worse.

5

When you publish a book, it's the world's book. The world edits it.

5

Too late, but I understand. That we don't perish of understanding everything too late, that is a miracle. But we do perish of that -- of just that.

5

How easy life is when it's easy, and how hard when it's hard.

4

A Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness, without a temple or an army or even a pistol, a Jew clearly without a home, just the object itself, like a glass or an apple.

4

Nothing has a more sinister effect on art than the artist's desire to prove that he's good. The terrible temptation of idealism! You must achieve mastery over your idealism, over your virtue as well as over your vice, aesthetic mastery over everything that drives you to write in the first place - your outrage, your politics, your grief, your love!

4

Turned the wrong way around, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied in "History", harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.

4

I know I'm not going to write as well as I used to.

I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration - it's daily frustration, not to mention humiliation.

4

Just like those who are incurably ill, the aged know everything about their dying except exactly when.

3

Oh, to be a center fielder, a center fielder- and nothing more

3

You can't write good satirical fiction in America because reality will quickly outdo anything you might invent.

3

Everything dictated silence and self-control but I couldn't restrain myself and spoke my mind.

3

Everybody has a hard job. All real work is hard. My work happened also to be undoable. Morning after morning for 50 years, I faced the next page defenseless and unprepared. Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life.

3

I write fiction and I'm told it's autobiography, I write autobiography and I'm told it's fiction, so since I'm so dim and they're so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn't.

3

It isn't that you subordinate your ideas to the force of the facts in autobiography but that you construct a sequence of stories to bind up the facts with a persuasive hypothesis that unravels your history's meaning.

3

I was a biography in constant motion, memory to the marrow of my bones.

3

Fear tends to manifest itself much more quickly than greed, so volatile markets tend to be on the downside. In up markets, volatility tends to gradually decline.

3

What I have in mind when I start to write could fit inside an acorn-an acorn, moreover, that rarely if ever grows into an oak. Write fiction and you relinquish reason. You start with an acorn and you end up with a mackerel.

2

I am marked like a road map from head to toe with my repressions.

You can travel the length and breadth of my body over superhighways of shame and inhibition and fear.

2

No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you're not superior to sex. It's a very risky game.... It's sex that disorders our normally ordered lives.

2

Writing turns you into somebody who's always wrong.

the illusion that you may get it right someday is the perversity that draws you on. What else could? As pathological phenomena go, it doesn't completely wreck your life.

2

Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.

Of course no childhood is without its terrors, yet I wonder if I would have been a less frightened boy if Lindbergh hadn't been president or if I hadn't been the offspring of Jews.

2

My God! The English language is a form of communication! Conversation isn't just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at! Where you've got to duck for your life and aim to kill! Words aren't only bombs and bullets -- no, they're little gifts, containing meanings!

2

You have a conscience, and a conscience is a valuable attribute, but not if it begins to make you think you were to blame for what is far beyond the scope of your responsibility.

2

In my childhood I led the life of a sage, when I grew up I started climbing trees

1

Undermining experience, embellishing experience, rearranging and enlarging experience into a species of mythology.

1
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