By Henry Roth
“His early novel Call It Sleep used to be his Ulysses. His overdue paintings An American Type is his Grapes of Wrath.”—Thane Rosenbaum, Los Angeles Times
This “glorious, evocative, literary novel for the ages” (Los Angeles Times) has eventually taken its position in the nice canon of yank fiction. Set in the course of the nice melancholy, opposed to a backdrop of recent York’s glimmering skyscrapers and Los Angeles’s seedy motor courts, this autobiographical paintings concludes the unprecedented saga of Henry Roth, whose vintage Call It Sleep, released in 1934, went directly to turn into certainly one of Time’s a hundred most sensible American novels of the 20 th century. With echoes of Nathanael West and John Steinbeck, An American Type is a heartrending assertion approximately American id and the common transcendence of affection.
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Extra resources for An American Type: A Novel
First, it still doesn’t allow us to say where those words (rather than a particular physical manifestation of those words) are. Second, those words aren’t necessarily stable: not every edition of a book offers the reader precisely the same set of words. There are, for instance, slight differences between the first edition of Le chiendent and a revised edition printed in 1968. But the differences needn’t be slight: the 1753 edition of Manon Lescaut adds an entire episode (the story of the Italian prince) that does not appear in the 1731 edition.
We have perhaps located, in all its inexistence, the original of Le chiendent, but this is not to say that the original is the book itself. Surely, when I say “Le chiendent,” I am not exactly referring to that one original volume; the book itself must still be somewhere else. But where? where is the book itself? I am not the first to pose that question. René Wellek and Austin Warren devote an entire chapter to it in their venerable Theory of Fiction (142–57), and their discussion can give us a first glimpse into its difficulty.
The image of the continuum works, but only if we think of it as both asymmetrical and tilted—asymmetrical in that there is an absolute, vital presence of the original at the Mona Lisa end, but no corresponding absolute absence of the original at the tic-tac-toe end; tilted in that, although the original is less present on the tic-tac-toe side, the Mona Lisa side exerts a sort of gravitational pull from which the denizens of the other side can never fully escape, for no matter c opy how removed from an original a copy may be, it is never entirely free of it.
An American Type: A Novel by Henry Roth