The Human Stain by Philip Roth

The Human Stain

By Philip Roth

  • Publication Date: 2000-05-10
  • Genre: Literary
4 Score: 4 (From 78 Ratings)

Book Summary

It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished his most virulent accuser. Coleman Silk has a secret. But it's not the secret of his affair, at seventy-one, with Faunia Farley, a woman half his age with a savagely wrecked past--a part-time farmhand and a janitor at the college where, until recently, he was the powerful dean of faculty. And it's not the secret of Coleman's alleged racism, which provoked the college witch-hunt that cost him his job and, to his mind, killed his wife. Nor is it the secret of misogyny, despite the best efforts of his ambitious young colleague, Professor Delphine Roux, to expose him as a fiend. Coleman's secret has been kept for fifty years: from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman, who sets out to understand how this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, had fabricated his identity and how that cannily controlled life came unraveled. Set in 1990s America, where conflicting moralities and ideological divisions are made manifest through public denunciation and rituals of purification, The Human Stain concludes Philip Roth's eloquent trilogy of postwar American lives that are as tragically determined by the nation's fate as by the "human stain" that so ineradicably marks human nature. This harrowing, deeply compassionate, and completely absorbing novel is a magnificent successor to his Vietnam-era novel, American Pastoral, and his McCarthy-era novel, I Married a Communist.

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Book Opinions

  • The Human Stain

    By Jake75+
    So,many years ago I happened on Portnoy's Complaint. Having always been outside, it resonated, the Jewish boy who couldn't get the nice Jewish girls. And now some 50 or more years later I literally stumble on the Human Stain. And I am thinking of all I have missed, all that I could have felt,and thought about and maybe even changed some. I have rarely been so smitten in my eighty years not even as Jewish boy at the U of C in the fifties. Roth, we were probably there at the same time. Alan Jacobs, 4507 N. Magnolia Chicago, 60640