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By Henry Roth

“His early novel Call It Sleep used to be his Ulysses. His overdue paintings An American Type is his Grapes of Wrath.”—Thane Rosenbaum, Los Angeles Times
This “glorious, evocative, literary novel for the ages” (Los Angeles Times) has eventually taken its position in the nice canon of yank fiction. Set through the nice melancholy, opposed to a backdrop of recent York’s glimmering skyscrapers and Los Angeles’s seedy motor courts, this autobiographical paintings concludes the exceptional saga of Henry Roth, whose vintage Call It Sleep, released in 1934, went directly to develop into one in all Time’s a hundred most sensible American novels of the 20th century. With echoes of Nathanael West and John Steinbeck, An American Type is a heartrending assertion approximately American id and the common transcendence of affection.

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Extra info for An American Type: A Novel

Sample text

The last sequence in L'Opoponax depicts the climax of the love relationship between Catherine Legrand and Valerie Borge. This is indicated in the text by the linking of their names, which states their union (O, 256, 269, 277, 280). The fact that these appear alternately as "Valerie Borge Catherine Legrand" or "Catherine Legrand Valerie Borge" suggests their position as equals in this relationship and not as subject and objecta subtle but efficacious way of indicating a renversement of the traditional situation, and one that is developed in much more complex fashion in Le Corps lesbien.

23(O, 179) It is thus an enigmatic, fluid, protean, threatening forcevery much like the work of fiction in which it appears or like fiction as conceived and defined by Wittig. The text goes on to illustrate that the opoponax has multiform and manifold power. It menaces those whom it would convince, intimidate, or eliminate. It even frightens its own creator, for so great is this force that, once liberated, it is difficult to control. Moreover, since the opoponax is capable of constant change, it can become a sound or a shape, and it can cause a blurring of contours, even a loss of the most elementary certitudes (O, 18081).

It thus combines a verbal threat with a physical onedeath in flames, a fitting metaphor for consuming passion. This time, the opoponax is victorious. " The hated rival, Anne Marie Brunet, is overthrown, and the beloved, Valerie Borge, now promises to communicate (secretly) with Catherine Legrand, by means of correspondence (O, 24749). The acceptance of a love relationship thus manifests itself in an exchange of written texts. Once this battle has been won, the opoponax has accomplished its task.

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