Daphne Merkin

All articles by this author

The Afterlife

Revisiting Roth’s promise

My own sense of Roth is that the motive behind his books, his drive and ambition as a writer, has everything to do with his unceasing energy as a seducer—a seducer of readers as well as of living people, friends and lovers. One might argue, again, that the intimate connection between eros and the desire to communicate with readers is true of many writers—but in Roth’s case I wonder if he might have been a better writer, certainly a freer one, if he had been able to unknot the two impulses a bit more.