Friday, 7 March 2014

The Breast by Philip Roth

I just...did not get this. I didn't dislike it, I wasn't offended by it, I was just...baffled. I don't get what he's trying to do or say or what the deeper hidden meaning might be. If there was one, it flew right over my head.

So, in reference to The Metamorphosis, (it and The Nose are mentioned prominently, so it's not like it's oblique), a man wakes up one morning and finds that he has become a giant breast!

Yeah, that's what it's about. And his life afterwards as a breast, his continued sexual desire, the reaction of others to him being a breast, his eventual conviction that he's hallucinating being a breast, then finally...acceptance? I guess?

Being a breast, you'd think this book would have some things to say about gender, whether or not I agreed with them. It really doesn't. Strangely, his gender identity (and sexual identity) remains almost totally unchanged, now that he's a giant women's breast. And there's really no discussion of gender. I mean, one guy can't take him seriously now that he's a breast, but I'm not sure that's a commentary on breasts in general. Also, everyone else does a remarkably good job of treating him in an unchanged manner.

Surveillance society? He becomes convinced (he can't see, because he's a breast, but for some reason he can talk through his nipple) that he's on TV constantly. But this never reaches above his conviction that that might be the case - and the ramifications aren't really explored.

I just don't get it. If there are deep philosophical musings, they went right over my head. It didn't make me think. Didn't make me laugh, either. What a strange little book.

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