Quote Of The Day: The Ghost Writes

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Quote Of The Day #61

“Everything undeniably true struck me as transparently false as soon as I wrote it down, and the greater the effort to be sincere, the worse it went.”

“I have neither too high nor too low an estimate of my work. I believe I know exactly wherein my value and originality lie. I know where I can go and just how far, without making a mockery of the thing we all love. I was only suggesting that an unruly personal life will probably better serve a writer like Nathan… His work has turbulence–that should be nourished. All I was trying to say is that he oughtn’t stifle what is clearly his gift.”

“A year later our artistic and amatory alliance came to an end when I confessed that the mutual friend had not been the first girl… I had nighttime hours with nothing to do and nobody to stop me. I had been at this for some time now and I admitted, it was no way to be treating her. Bold honesty, of course produced far more terrible results than if I had only confessed to seducing the wily seductress and left it at that; nobody had asked me about anybody else. But carried away by the idea that if I were a perfidious brute, I at least would be a truthful perfidious brute, I was crueler than was either necessary or intended…. The hatred for me I had inspired by telling the whole truth had me particularly confused. If only I had lied, I thought.”

“Ma, you want to see physical violence done to the Jews of Newark, go to the office of the plastic surgeon where the girls get their noses fixed. That’s where the Jewish blood flows in Essex County, that’s where the blow is delivered—with a mallet! To their bones—and to their pride!”

“For him, as a consequence of her infatuation: to enchant him, to bewitch him, to break through the scrupulosity and the wisdom and the virtue into his imagination, and there as … his femme fatale.”

A young author Nathan, who had published a little book of short stories, received an invitation from an established writer E. I. Lonoff to spend the weekend in his upstate New York house. So Nathan went. Nathan just broke up with his girlfriend–he actually confessed that he had several other girls during their year long relationship that was supposed to be exclusive. He thought he should get some brownie points when he was being so honest, but it ended up that he was severely hated, unforgiven, and banished.

At Lonoff’s house, Nathan met Lonoff’s wife Hope and his young student Amy. Nathan wanted to date Amy, but somehow he realized that Amy was probably Lonoff’s mistress, but he dared not ask. Then Lonoff’s wife Hope came out, begging Lonoff to end their marriage and start a new relationship, but Lonoff considered himself, at 60, too old to do that.

At night Nathan eavesdrop on the Lonoff family. And Amy is not really Amy, but somebody very unexpected…

I finished this book, “The Ghost Writer” by Philip Roth, and I like it except those portions with description of women. For example, I don’t believe Lonoff’s wife would come out to beg Lonoff to take action about their estranged marriage. That doesn’t fit my logic or my experience. I think Lonoff’s wife Hope would either divorce Lonoff, take a secret lover, or turn a blind eye.

There’s also another woman Andrea who married Ambanavel, a writer friend or enemy of Lonoff. Andrea was young, beautiful, rich, ambitious, but she threw everything away just to become Ambanavel’s mistress and second wife.

And the main character Amy, too. She is young, beautiful, poor, but ambitious. She had nothing in her life to aspire to than becoming a slave and a third wheel in Lonoff’s marriage.

Somehow I think the description of all these women are just too unrealistic for me to digest…unless all these women are psychologically damaged. I think the author is an expert in describing psychologically and emotionally damaged women. Actually he writes so well about these damaged women that it’s part of the charm of his books.

5 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: The Ghost Writes

  1. Interesting quotes. A friend of mine was recently telling me about this book so such an interesting coincidence you wrote about it too. I am not surprised by how Roth describes the women. He seems to be drawn to emotionally and psychologically damaged women.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, what a coincidence indeed, especially for the fact that it’s not his recent book, but rather an old one of decades ago. So true, soooo true. He only interacts with two kinds of women: one is cold and distant, and the other is approachable but crazy. Sometimes I really wonder why he can’t see the existence of other women since in a liberal art program and in various writers’ colony, there are quite a lot of different kinds of women. Those women Roth described in his books are not so many in those environments. I guess he only sees what he wants to see. It doesn’t really matter what reality is.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I mean I met people from English department etc., and there are a sizable number of independent, normal, sane women there, but of course Roth would never acknowledge their existence. He could only see those damaged women who bombarded him with attention and became increasingly crazy along the way.

          Liked by 1 person

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