Philip Roth

Philip Roth: Memorable Quotes

Celebrated American author Philip Roth dies at 85

Philip Roth, widely considered one of the great novelists of the 20th century, died on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. He was 85. Born in New Jersey in the '30s, he would go on to write—fearlessly, provocatively, unapologetically—about the male mind, the male libido, New Jersey, and his own Jewish upbringing. An extremely prolific writer, Roth landed on the literary scene with his 1959 collection of short stories, "Goodbye, Columbus." But it was his 1969 novel, "Portnoy’s Complaint," about a ceaselessly masturbating protagonist, that brought him success and scandal in equal measure. He won the Pulitzer ("American Pastoral") and the National Book Award ("Goodbye, Columbus"), among countless others. Here, a few of his most memorable quotes about writing, reading, and living in America.

REVISITING THE AREA WHERE HE GREW UP, 1968 Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images REVISITING THE AREA WHERE HE GREW UP, 1968 "All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing." ― The Human Stain Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images "All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing." ― The Human Stain "He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach—that it makes no sense." ― American Pastoral Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images "He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach—that it makes no sense." ― American Pastoral ‘"Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise." ― The Paris Review interview JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images ‘"Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise." ― The Paris Review interview “Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.” ― The Dying Animal Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images “Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.” ― The Dying Animal "Writing is frustration—it's daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It's just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time." ― The New York Times Interview, 2012 Bernard Gotfryd/Getty Images "Writing is frustration—it's daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It's just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time." ― The New York Times Interview, 2012 "Unless one is inordinately fond of subordination, one is always at war." ― The Dying Animal Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images "Unless one is inordinately fond of subordination, one is always at war." ― The Dying Animal "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." ― The New Yorker Interview Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images "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." ― The New Yorker Interview "Nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others." ― The Plot Against America Orjan F. Ellingvag/Corbis via Getty Images "Nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others." ― The Plot Against America