“You’re Neither One Thing (N)or The Other”: Nella Larsen, Philip Roth, and The Passing Trope

“You’re Neither One Thing (N)or The Other”: Nella Larsen, Philip Roth, and The Passing Trope Abstract: Philip Roth has historically been situated in a male literary tradition, with critics assessing him alongside Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and more recently, Charles Chesnutt and Ralph Ellison. Because of his problematic portrayals of women characters, Roth is not often discussed alongside women writers. My paper goes beyond this by situating Roth alongside a black woman writer, Nella Larsen. In fact, Larsen’s Passing (1929) and Roth’s The Human Stain (2000) share several thematic and structural similarities, such as the tropes of belated race learning, double consciousness, anonymous letter writing, taboo sexualities, and ambiguous deaths. My essay argues that these tropes underlie passing narratives and reveal the development of twentieth century passing texts. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philip Roth Studies Purdue University Press

“You’re Neither One Thing (N)or The Other”: Nella Larsen, Philip Roth, and The Passing Trope

Philip Roth Studies, Volume 8 (1) – May 30, 2012

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Publisher
Purdue University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Purdue University Press
ISSN
1940-5278
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Abstract

Abstract: Philip Roth has historically been situated in a male literary tradition, with critics assessing him alongside Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and more recently, Charles Chesnutt and Ralph Ellison. Because of his problematic portrayals of women characters, Roth is not often discussed alongside women writers. My paper goes beyond this by situating Roth alongside a black woman writer, Nella Larsen. In fact, Larsen’s Passing (1929) and Roth’s The Human Stain (2000) share several thematic and structural similarities, such as the tropes of belated race learning, double consciousness, anonymous letter writing, taboo sexualities, and ambiguous deaths. My essay argues that these tropes underlie passing narratives and reveal the development of twentieth century passing texts.

Journal

Philip Roth StudiesPurdue University Press

Published: May 30, 2012

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