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Humanities 2019, 8(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020071

The Prague Orgy: The Life of Writers in a Totalitarian State According to Philip Roth

Department of Theatre and Film Studies, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University, Univerzitní 3, 771 80 Olomouc, Czech Republic
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 7 April 2019
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Abstract

This paper deals with the way Philip Roth depicted writers in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s in his novella The Prague Orgy, the final part of the Zuckerman Bound tetralogy. Researchers often read The Prague Orgy in the context of the entire tetralogy and accentuate the contact with Jewish topics. The primary focus of the paper is how Roth views Czech writers and their lives through the eyes of his long-term hero (and fictional alter-ego) Nathan Zuckerman and how he perceives life in a totalitarian state. The Prague Orgy is discussed as a somewhat abstract story about the writer’s freedom and responsibility of their work. There are three types of writers in The Prague Orgy: The émigré (Sisovsky), the dissenter (Bolotka), and the pro-regime (Novak). Each of them, in an interview with Roth’s hero, formulates his attitude to the regime. Zuckerman is fascinated by the life of opposition artists, their experience of freedom (realized in the private sphere), and the social response to their work. Although the reality of life in Czechoslovakia under communism is not the main topic of the novella, the paper concludes that the depiction of life of Czech underground intellectuals interested mostly in sex is in consonance with the picture of Czech dissent in official regime propaganda. View Full-Text
Keywords: Philip Roth; The Prague Orgy; Zuckerman Bound; Philip Roth and Czechoslovakia; totalitarian regime Philip Roth; The Prague Orgy; Zuckerman Bound; Philip Roth and Czechoslovakia; totalitarian regime
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Sýkora, M. The Prague Orgy: The Life of Writers in a Totalitarian State According to Philip Roth. Humanities 2019, 8, 71.

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