Quotes Categories

Philip Roth Quotes

(1933), American Novelist

I write fiction and I'm told it's autobiography, I write autobiography and I'm told it's fiction, so since I'm so dim and they're so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn't.

Category: Autobiography

It isn't that you subordinate your ideas to the force of the facts in autobiography but that you construct a sequence of stories to bind up the facts with a persuasive hypothesis that unravels your history's meaning.

Category: Autobiography

Just like those who are incurably ill, the aged know everything about their dying except exactly when.

Category: Death And Dying

I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you -- it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.

Category: Discretion

Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.

Category: Facts

To become a celebrity is to become a brand name. There is Ivory Soap, Rice Krispies, and Philip Roth. Ivory is the soap that floats; Rice Krispies the breakfast cereal that goes snap-crackle-pop; Philip Roth the Jew who masturbates with a piece of liver.

Category: Fame

Undermining experience, embellishing experience, rearranging and enlarging experience into a species of mythology.

Category: Fiction

A Jewish man with parents alive is a fifteen-year-old boy, and will remain a fifteen-year-old boy until they die!

Category: Judaism And Jews

A Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness, without a temple or an army or even a pistol, a Jew clearly without a home, just the object itself, like a glass or an apple.

Category: Judaism And Jews

My God! The English language is a form of communication! Conversation isn't just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at! Where you've got to duck for your life and aim to kill! Words aren't only bombs and bullets -- no, they're little gifts, containing meanings!

Category: Language

Only in America do these peasants, our mothers, get their hair dyed platinum at the age of sixty, and walk up and down Collins Avenue in Florida in pedal pushers and mink stoles -- and with opinions on every subject under the sun. It isn't their fault they were given a gift like speech -- look, if cows could talk, they would say things just as idiotic.

Category: Mothers

The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.

Category: Progress

When you publish a book, it's the world's book. The world edits it.

Category: Publishing And Publishers

Is an intelligent human being likely to be much more than a large-scale manufacturer of misunderstanding?

Category: Understanding