“My characters are galley slaves,”Vladimir Naboko v told the Paris Review ...
‘Indignation’ Incites AngerThe life of a 19-year-old is recounted from beyond the grave in Philip Roth’s novel
Published On Friday, October 03, 2008 4:07 AM
By RYAN J. MEEHAN Crimson Staff Writer
“My characters are galley slaves,” Vladimir Nabokov told the Paris Review in 1967—and he was telling the truth. It isn’t difficult to imagine any one of his memorable protagonists as helpless prisoners, each chained to his oar on Nabokov’s ship—Pnin to indifference (against which he cracks), Kimbote to delusion (to which he succumbs), Humbert to lust (which drives him to kidnap and murder). The more forward motion these characters seemed to make, the clearer it became to the reader that they were stuck in the same place. But while Nabokov’s characters were ultimately the victims of their author’s mechanisms, they were also, fundamentally, the labors of a loving creator. It’s difficult to make the same case for Marcus Messner, the protagonist of Philip Roth’s 29th book, “Indignation.” As is now common in his novels, Roth writes autobiographically: Marcus is a young Jewish man from Newark, N.J., with a formidable intellect and an equally formidable anxiety.
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