Monday, October 05, 2009

Of Love and Death – The Dying Animal

Philip Roth is an American writer. Born in 1933, he is the author of many famous books. To name a few: “Goodbye, Columbus”, “American Pastoral”, “The Human Stain” and “The Plot Against America”.

The Dying Animal” explores those corners of human mind where the lust and sexual desires live.
The main character of the book is the aging man named Kepesh, an intellectual celebrity, amateur pianist and university scholar.
Divorced when was still quite young he kept his solitude as a virtue, a freedom and ... the ground for endless sexual adventures with his young female students. His life was well arranged,
promiscuous and easy-going until, at age 62, he meets Consuela, a beautiful offspring of Cuban emigrants. Initially his desire for her is almost only bodily, almost fleshly and full of fetish obsession about her breast. But as Consuela demonstrates her freedom – he almost falls in love with her. This love reveals itself in a strange way – in his morbid jealousy for her, for her friends, boyfriends and even brothers. I say “almost” because during the affair with Consuela he maintains the sexual relations with his previous lover. Reading the book it is very hard to judge if Kepesh was only an animal with sexual desire to Consuela, or if he truly loved her, but was intimidated by his senescence, generation gap etc...

There is also an interesting part about father-son relations. Kepesh – the bad father, who forsook his son when he broke his marriage, has, nevertheless, an important role in boy’s life.

The book ends in completely unanticipated and tragic way – shocking the readers at first. However, in the tragedy and uncertainty of the book climax lies its most important virtue – the reflection on, sometimes insecure and full of abeyance, yet true love and caring, the love that has a power to fight the death. That is my rendering of Kepesh final indecisiveness – contrary to many reviews I have read...

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