A new biography ‘unveils’ Philip Roth as a misogynist. Tell me something I don’t know | Hadley Freeman

A new biography ‘unveils’ Philip Roth as a misogynist. Tell me something I don’t know | Hadley Freeman

The Guardian

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The campaign to cancel the author is typical of today’s all-or-nothing approach, where if you don’t like everything about a public figure, you can’t like anything

In order to grow up, as Sigmund Freud probably wrote somewhere, a child must rebel against its parents, and for a while now modern culture has been rebelling against its literary fathers, that Mount Rushmore of 20th-century highbrow masculinity: Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, John Updike and Philip Roth. Last month, two British newspapers announced that Roth “could face getting cancelled” on account of details about his personal life included in two new biographies. That Roth arguably cancelled himself three years ago by dying is beside the point: the quickest way to prove one is Good these days is to vilify those who are Bad, and death is no hiding place.

Since their deaths, all of these men have come in for criticism, mainly for their attitudes towards women: Mailer was hugely popular at his peak, but now he’s probably best known for that whole stabbing-his-second-wife awkwardness; Updike is regularly derided as “a misogynist”; and Bellow’s female characters are often, at best, thinly drawn, or full-on bitches and shrews. Now, inevitably, it’s Roth’s turn.

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