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New York as Shadow-Line in Philip Roth's Exit Ghost

Ellen Levy
p. 229-237


Dans la nouvelle de Conrad intitulée "Shadow-Line", la "ligne d'ombre" est la frontière que franchit un jeune marin lorsqu'il quitte l'insouciance de la jeunesse et se voit contraint de passer de l'imprudence au sens des responsabilités, de l'inconséquence à l'âge adulte. Métaphore d'une voie maritime chez Conrad, la ligne d'ombre resurgit dans Exit Ghost de Philip Roth au niveau de l'agencement même de la ville de New York où Nathan Zuckerman, le protagoniste de Roth, revient après une absence de onze ans. Nous sommes à la veille des élections présidentielles de 2004—l'Amérique a, elle aussi, franchi des seuils déterminants et Nathan découvre qu'il ne lui est désormais plus possible de traverser le gouffre qui sépare l'indifférence où l'ont mené la maturité ou la maladie et les ardeurs d'une vie passée, pleinement vécue.
L'objet de cet article est d'examiner la manière dont la géographie de la cité fonctionne dans le roman, et en particulier dont elle établit une carte d'impératifs transformant la ville en lieu de confrontation entre le passé et le présent, mais aussi en gardien de la mémoire et en carte vierge d'un impossible avenir. Avec les mots de Nathan, la ville est l'Ici et le Maintenant, l'Alors et l'Aujourd'hui, et la Fin du Présent. Pour Nathan, désormais étranger, la réalité de la ville est une invitation à mesurer son aliénation dans le monde contemporain; mais aussi un encouragement à considérer les mots comme une alternative ou comme un reflet du monde dont il s'est retiré.
Par une série de rencontres fortuites, Exit Ghost évoque aussi l'entrée de Nathan dans le canon de Roth une trentaine d'années auparavant (The Ghost Writer, 1979). Le roman présente ainsi le franchissement paradoxal d'une ligne d'ombre narrative, séparant l'hôte et le fantôme: la voix de Nathan devient l'instrument qui enregistre son passage hors du monde imaginaire de l'auteur.

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Oh, the glamour of youth! Oh, the fire of it, more dazzling than the flames of the burning ship, throwing a magic light on the wide earth, leaping audaciously to the sky, presently to be quenched by time, more cruel more pitiless, more bitter than the sea—and like the flames of the burning ship surrounded by an unquenchable night.
Joseph Conrad, "Youth".

1In Joseph Conrad's novella of that title, the shadow-line is crossed by a young seafarer when he is forced to abandon the insouciance of youth for the responsibilities of a command at sea. The transition between moments of youthful impetuosity, endowed in Conrad's words with "all the beautiful continuity of hope which knows no pauses and no introspection" (Conrad 1), and the cares of an adult awareness honed on the confrontation with and acknowledgment of mortality takes the metaphoric form of the traversing of a maritime frontier: on the one side, carefree inconsequentiality; on the other, the end of illusion, the end of hopefulness.

2In Philip Roth's Exit Ghost, the notion of the shadow-line is figured in the topography of New York, first as a frontier between the City and the woodsy dwelling-place in the Berkshires in which Nathan Zuckerman has taken refuge from the world; then, upon Nathan's return to New York, in the geography of the City itself, as Nathan, during a week of upheaval and uncertainty, criss-crosses Manhattan, tempted by the lure of a future and haunted by the past. He has not been in New York for eleven years; indeed, except for the prostate surgery that has left him impotent and incontinent, he has hardly been away from his pastoral retreat for a decade and, since the attacks of 11 September 2001, he has given up following the news. His return to New York, which lasts eight days, at the end of October and beginning of November 2004, has been prompted by the possibility of mitigating his incontinence by a new procedure on offer at the urology department of Mount Sinai hospital.

  • 1 In fact, Nathan first appeared as a character inside the protagonist Peter Tarnopol's fiction in My (...)
  • 2 Roth has confimed Nathan's exit in an interview with Hermione Lee. Asked if this is the final Zucke (...)

3The faithful among Roth's readers will recall that over the eight books featuring Zuckerman, beginning with The Ghost Writer (1979),1 Nathan has evolved from central actor-narrator to observer-narrator of the stories of others. Since his retreat to his Massachusetts mountainside, he has narrated Roth's American Trilogy (American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, The Human Stain), which dates from the latter half of the 1990s, playing the role of "onlooker and outsider", one who does not intrude on public drama, and does not allow public drama to intrude on him (Roth 2007, 95). In Exit Ghost, however, Zuckerman is once more the protagonist of his own story—his last, as becomes apparent as the story unfolds, for Nathan is not only dripping from below, but his brain is leaking. He is growing forgetful; writing has become a battle against short-term memory dysfunction.2 And, as he despairingly recognizes in Exit Ghost, "[w]ithout my work, what would be left of me?" (106). Thus, the visit to New York depicted in the novel is Nathan's final aria, its title eloquent enough of departures on a Shakespearean scale, in five acts (or chapters) doubled by five imaginary dialogues written hastily on hotel stationery as Nathan grapples with what the city throws at him: "the irritants, stimulants, temptations and dangers of the present moment" (53).

4The same Zuckermanian afficionado (or Zuckermaniac) will have noted that in the years since such nonfiction works as Patrimony (1991) and The Facts (1988), which dealt with the death of Roth's father and with the author's own mental and bodily ills, Roth's preoccupations have grown increasingly valedictory: illness and death have crept in, demanding the attention once lavished on the struggles and jubilations of the healthy (male) body. In Sabbath's Theater (1995), Eros and Thanatos danced a wild pas de deux in the graveyard, and the cemetery—or its antechamber, the hospital—figured largely in Roth's fictions of the early 2000s, The Dying Animal and Everyman. These latter are variations on the theme of the aging, failing body which Exit Ghost joins in a triptych of loss, finality, and what Keats, quoted by Nathan, called the "posthumous existence" (221). Nathan re-plays the granddaddy of all graveyard scenes, with this difference: that the skull he is contemplating is his own.

  • 3 Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964 (1961) discu (...)

5Exit Ghost plays lightly on the tradition of the alien voyager adrift in a society that confounds and astonishes, not so much in the overtly satiric vein of a Montesquieu or a Swift, but closer to home, in the spirit of Henry James's return to his native city in The American Scene (1907), published just one hundred years before Roth's novel. If James, the "restless" or "brooding" analyst, is stunned by the City's noise and its movement, in which "relief, detachment, dignity, meaning, peris[h] utterly and lose all rights" (James 83) and if he is pensive before the newfangled skyscrapers which he calls "the most piercing notes in that concert of the expensively provisional into which your supreme sense of New York resolves itself" (James 77), Nathan is flummoxed, believe it or not, by the immodesty of present-day maidenly attire and by the ubiquity of the cellphone. On these latter offensive instruments of non-presence he ponders at length, wondering what has happened to the species that has made incessant babbling into a mobile "preferable to walking about under no one's surveillance, momentarily solitary, assimilating the streets through one's animal senses and thinking the myriad thoughts that the activities of a city inspire" (64). He, who spends days at a time in voluntary rural isolation, in the fruitful silence of composition, wonders what it means to these contemporary citydwellers to have eradicated the experience of separateness. He sees in their continual recourse to telephonic touching, a measure of the immensity of their unacknowledged loneliness. The sidewalks are no longer the ground for the development of communal interaction but, on the contrary, display a non-community failing to connect.3 In the prevalence and the inevitability of cellphones, Nathan sees the extent to which his own membership in "the community of contemporary souls" has lapsed (266). New York, in its swarming and youthful garrulity, convinces him that he has become a "no-longer" in a world densely populated with "not-yets".

  • 4 Nathan notes such a juxtaposition of old and new on 71st Street, which he visits on the second day (...)

6In 1907, James had mourned the disappearance of the house on Washington Square in which he was born, the dwarfing of favorite churches by bevies of high bristling buildings, "giants of the mere market" (James 77); Nathan feels that he has become subject to some sort of optical trick which renders the city that he once inhabited simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, as though viewed through a funhouse mirror. For both, New York is the locus of the modern, gilding on the temporary, a conspiracy, as James phrases it, against the ancient graces, the stately, the established.4 Nathan sees in it the theater of the immediate, a place motivated by curiosity in which the gods of inquiry reign, the agora of all the contests, contentions, and dissensions that he has banished from his life, that once fed his passions and enthusiasms and made the world significant but which now endanger a hard-won detachment, attained through the paring away of everything non-essential. In the country, he confides, "there was nothing tempting my hope. I had made peace with my hope. But when I came to New York, in only hours New York did what it does to people—awakened the possibilities. Hope breaks out" (16-17).

7Why, then, does he stay? Leaving the hospital after the treatment which motivated his visit—and which quickly proves to be ineffectual—Nathan hears a voice from the past and recognizes in a frail elderly cancer patient, an old acquaintance from a by-gone book, The Ghost Writer. She is Amy Bellette, the femme fatale about whom he had fantasized so zealously when, as a novice writer of twenty-three, he visited his would-be mentor and spiritual father, Ε. I. Lonoff. Nathan follows the elderly Amy into a luncheonette—her head is half-shaven and the scars of brain surgery are clearly visible—but does not speak to her. The unexpected encounter, however, revives memories of a time when involvement in life was not primarily something to be expunged with stoic determination. He heads downtown to the Strand to buy the long-deceased and out-of-print Lonoff's complete short stories; worse, he buys a copy of The New York Review of Books, that banner of the teeming world and publicizer of temptations, and instead of reading the election special (it is, after all, November 2004, and the Bush-Kerry election is about to be contested), plunges into the Personal Columns. There, a personal ad placed by a couple of young writers wishing to trade their Upper West Side apartment for a place in the country attracts his attention and, in an access of spontaneity, Nathan makes a call and finds himself on his way to their 71st Street flat to close the deal.

8Thus does New York not only become the surface on which may be played out all that is contemporaneously agitating, but a maelstrom pulling Nathan down into eddies of memory and desire, into the memory of desire: "Precipitously stepping into a new future, I had retreated unwittingly into the past—a retrograde projectory not that uncommon, but uncanny anyhow" (52). The retrogression is of two orders: the female half of the writing couple who wish to trade living accommodations is a self-assured Texan beauty named Jamie Logan who arouses in the celibate Nathan a plangent lust he no longer has the physical wherewithal to satisfy; the sight of Amy Bellette, with whom circumstances will soon conspire to put him in touch, will send him to the Lower East Side and its memories of humble origins, early apprenticeship, and the flames of youthfulness which, in Conradian terms, he now sees surrounded by the spreading stretches of unquenchable night.

9First, the Upper West Side: with Jamie and her husband Billy Davidoff, it is decided that while Nathan remains in New York for a year, they will flee the post-9/11 world, which has unhinged Jamie, by living and writing in Nathan's rural sanctuary. The young couple invite him to watch the election returns with them a few evenings later, allowing Nathan to witness first-hand their crossing of their own shadow-line as their optimistic certainty that the American electorate will give Bush his just deserts turns into the appalled realization that the incubus has been loosed once more to wreak another four-year's havoc. Zuckerman, now playing the role of the Lonovian mentor that E. I. Lonoff once played to him, discourses on the fervent dispassion, the impervious detachment, that years of rhythmic living "in a small house on a dirt road in the deep country" (3) have fostered. He has "ceased to inhabit not just the great world but the present moment" (1). The election results can be put into historical perspective by one who has lived through other disillusionments, other catastrophes. The young people and their generation may rave or, alternatively, join those weeping on the steps of the 42nd Street Library, may spend the Wednesday after election Tuesday wandering zombie-like in post-electoral shock through a mourning Central Park, Nathan has seen other triumphs of other imbeciles in other trying circumstances. He commiserates with their despair, but remains distant from it, thinking what the exchange of dwelling-places will do for them:

... my house, a place where, if you liked, you could erase the rage about how much worse it all was than you thought and the sorrow over how far down your country had sunk and, if you were young and hopeful and engaged by your world and still enraptured by your expectations, learn instead to relinquish caring about America in 2004—to live and not be on the rack because of how stupid and corrupt it all is—by looking for fulfillment in your books, your music, your mate, and your garden. Watching these two, I got the sense easily enough of why anyone their age with their commitments would want to flee the pain-inducing lover their country had become. (87)

10As for what the exchange will do for him, is doing for him, Nathan recognizes its inappropriateness from the moment the mischievous imp of desire pushes him into consenting to it. He is soon obsessed with the comely Jamie with whom he will enact what Roth called in another context an "excruciating parable... about life's unyieldingness even to—especially to—the most unyielding longings" (Roth 2001, 127). Jamie is herself a ghostly resurgence of the once-alluring Amy who haunted him for an evening almost half a century earlier. And through Jamie, other ghosts are called up. First, there is Jamie's friend from university days, Richard Kliman, an ambitious twenty-eight-year-old would-be biographer whose project is to resuscitate interest in Lonoff's eclipsed reputation by publishing a life of him that will reveal what Kliman believes to be the shameful never-told secret that shaped this reclusive writer's art.

  • 5 Kliman's name, of course, suggests "climbing"; Billy Davidoff, on the other hand, seems to take his (...)
  • 6 The opposition between the warring urges of Jewish male identity, the nice Jewish Boy, all represse (...)

11Nathan is duly horrified at the thought that the life of the admired Lonoff, who throughout his career remained impersonally aloof, a model of the dedicated aesthete, living not in the world but in the sentence (Shostak 199), should be exploited by a brash literary journalist, a biographical inquisitor, one of what Roth has called on more than one occasion the "lice of literature" (288). Seemingly unstoppable, "the last of the agitators and affronters" (253), Kliman is descended in a direct line from brash Jew-boys of the likes of Lenny Bruce or Abbie Hoffman, not to mention Nathan himself,5 a foil to Jamie's gentle and gentlemanly husband, the nice Jewish Boy, Billie Davidoff.6 It does not help, of course, that Kliman is also tall, handsome, well-made, that he radiates sexual and social assurance, apparently positive, Nathan sardonically explains, that "his heart, his knees, his cerebrum, his prostrate, his bladder sphincter, his everything is indestructible and that he, and he alone, is not in the hands of his cells" (256).

12The antipathy is immediate, Nathan, in fact, having recognized at once that Kliman is a reasonably faithful rendition of himself, circa 1956. The distorted funhouse mirror again: Nathan can only swear to queer this doppelganger of his younger self's pitch, to be the fly in his ointment, the impedimentum to his appetite for success. The ghost of ambitious literary youth, the ghost of masculine prowess that brooks no thwarting, Kliman will eventually armwrestle Nathan into a recognition of the absoluteness of his decline: "I could not meet contention's demands, wanted no part of its complexities" (279). The boy, who in the ruthlessness of his intentions and the tenacity of his entitlement has no fear of crossing the lines of acceptable behavior, pitches Nathan across the shadow-line that divides present infirmity from the steadiness of past purpose. New York, the repository of memory resurfacing the better to mark what the present has erased, throws down a frontier between the recallable past and Nathan's looming forgetfulness.

  • 7 In a review of Exit Ghost, James Wood notes the abundance of allusions to the works of ageing artis (...)

13Richard Kliman becomes the intermediary between Nathan and Amy Bellette, whose surgically-modified brain and physical waifishness are a counterpart to Nathan's own diminishing powers. When Nathan visits her in her seedy First Avenue railroad flat, she describes the life she has lived since Lonoff's death in 1961 and reveals to him the biographical details for which he had substituted a fantasized survival of Anne Frank back in the days of The Ghost Writer. The downtown visit immerses Nathan in those days; mounting the staircase to Amy's place, he imagines a less-than-friendly encounter with Lonoff's ghost: he thinks unflatteringly to himself, "He'd put on weight in the grave", while the ghost, in a tone of "benign sarcasm", comments to this seventy-one-old version of his erstwhile acolyte, "I understand that you are no longer such a great lover" (167-68). The flat, too, is haunted by the Master's presence: his desk lamp, his easy chair, his shoes lined up forlornly in the bedroom closet—no one will ever fill them again. The armchair seems to Nathan to bear the "imprint of [Lonoff's] thought and the shape of his stoicism"; he is reminded of the ghost in T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding" who tells the poet of the pain that awaits him: "For last year's words belong to last year's language/ And next year's words await another voice" (169). And, indeed, all of Nathan's adventures in New York seem to be under the influence of the "midwinter spring" of Eliot's quartet.7

14The visit to Amy's also allows Roth to indulge in more rant-by-proxy, a favorite proclivity. The anti-Bush diatribe having been put into the mouths of the younger generation. Amy gets to denounce political correctness in matters literary. She produces a letter that she has written to the editors of the New York Times—it was not chosen for publication—in which she attacks the shallow literalness of contemporary cultural journalism and bemoans the passing of a reading public capable of grasping the essential transgressiveness of the literary imagination. This letter, she claims, defining people like Zuckerman and herself as "ghosts witnessing the end of the literary era" (186), was dictated to her by the dead Lonoff himself with whom she converses, on a daily basis, on literary and personal subjects.

15Here, too, is a parallel between Amy and Nathan: from the first frustrating encounter with the flesh-and-blood Jamie, Nathan has begun to record dialogues with an imaginary "She", dialogues whose literary and seductive content is far more satisfying than anything that passes for communication between the real temptress and her superannuated would-be suitor. In what one critic has called the "bitter madness" of electoral week, "a kind of Forest of Arden in which Nathan's antic moment can be played out" (Wood 96), Nathan not only re-visits the purlieus of his by-gone vigor, but creates the alternate geography of a non-city where the disembodied voices of his compensatory imagination hold sway. These need no streets or sitting rooms in which to enact their strenuous dramas or their cerebral confrontations. They are erotic in the way in which, for Roth, writing is erotic, and they are sacred, too: the pilpul of lit-chat, for their flirtaciousness is steeped in the Word, and the Word is Literature. It is in these imaginary dialogues between "He" and "She" that Conrad's novella. The Shadow-Line, is evoked and, with it, the notion of the passage from one of life's latitudes to another, presided over by the great neutrality of the Beyond, passages from which there is no return. Here is Conrad's once eager-for-life Captain in the middle of his defining agon:

... and as I emerge on deck the ordered arrangement of the stars meets my eye, unclouded, infinitely wearisome. There they are: stars, sun, sea, light, darkness, space, great waters; the formidable Work of the Seven Days, into which mankind seems to have blundered unbidden. Or else decoyed. Even as I have been decoyed into this awful, this death-haunted command... (Conrad 80)

16The mingling of love-play and books in Nathan's hastily scribbled dialogues is no surprise: Roth and his writing alter-ego have always been fascinated, after all, by the shadow-line between the lived and the unlived, life in the world and life on the page, the "not-so that reveals the so" (120), as Nathan phrases it, fictional amplification that creates an intensity that is ephemeral or wholly absent in life: "... that amplification, evolving uncertainly out of nothing, constitutes [the writer's] only assurance, and the unlived, the surmise, fully drawn in print on paper, is the life whose meaning comes to matter most" (147).

  • 8 Hope was the name of Lonoff's wife on whose furious departure The Ghost Writer concluded.

17Exit Ghost brings Nathan full circle back to his beginnings in The Ghost Writer, tracing the evolution of the writer from fledgling to exhausted eagle. The young littérateur consumed by curiosity about the lives of other writers is no longer the twenty-three-year-old Nathan, who memorably stood on a volume of Henry James to eavesdrop on Lonoff's bedroom conversations, but the similarly ravenous Kliman, who will seemingly stop at nothing to excavate the long-dead Lonoff's buried secrets. In The Ghost Writer young Nathan's contact with the world of letters had begun at a reading given by a celebrated writer at college; in Exit Ghost something similar happened not long ago to Jamie, but the celebrated writer was none other than Zuckerman himself. Roth brings Zuckerman back to New York to force the acknowledgement of another heave of life's inexorable timepiece, another generational seismic shift, to prove that his space in the City has been usurped, then sends him scurrying back to the white space of the Berkshires where Lonoff once eked out his writerly existence before failing, he too, to reinvigorate his life in his five final years spent with Amy, after his Hope broke out:8

The upheaval of New York had taken little more than a week. There is no more worldly in-the-world place than New York, full of all those people on their cell phones going to restaurants, having affairs, getting jobs, reading the news, being consumed with political emotion, and I'd thought to come in from where I'd been, to resume residence there reembodied, to take on all the things I'd decided to relinquish—love, desire, quarrels, professional conflict, the whole messy legacy of the past—and instead, as in a speeded-up old movie, I passed through for the briefest moment, only to pull out to come back here. (279)

  • 9 "I was learning at seventy-one what it is to be deranged. Proving that self-discovery wasn't over a (...)

18Nathan discovers in New York that the drama of self-discovery, which he thought belonged to the young, may equally afflict the aged, even those like himself who have thrown up the broadest bulwarks against vulnerability.9 But this is not all that the sad opsimath is forced to take on board, for it will be Nathan's fate not only henceforth to be exiled from life, but to be exiled from its creative alternative, to be fired as Roth's ghostwriter. Apparently poised at the onset of Alzheimer's, reduced to keeping a Chore Book to combat absent-mindedness and to grope uncharacteristically for words, Nathan has begun to find the fashioning of coherent discourse more than a challenge.

  • 10 The article appeared as "Pictures of Malamud" in The New York Times on 20 April 1986 and is include (...)

19There is a strange connection here with an incident that Roth recounts in a piece published after Bernard Malamud's death in 1986. In it, Roth explains how Malamud, desperately weakened by heart surgery and a stroke, showed him what was to be the first chapter of a new book, a thin sheaf of pages that Roth was uneasily reluctant to comment upon.10 Now, Zuckerman is subjected to a similar experience: the friend to whom he has sent the manuscript of his latest novel has returned it with the excuse of having nothing useful to say about it, a demurral which Nathan reads as a sufficiently eloquent commentary on the work's failure. Heading into the "twilight of [his] talent" (161), about to lose hold of the transforming powers of fiction, a hostage to Roth's expiatory sentiments in the Malamud incident, Nathan exits Roth's canon, expelled not only from the City but from the immortal garden of Roth's prose.

20And one is tempted to say, with Hamlet, "Alas, poor ghost".

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Conrad, Joseph, The Shadow-Line, Oxford: World Classics, 2003 (1917).

James, Henry, The American Scene, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968 (1907).

Parrish, Timothy ed., The Cambridge Companion to Philip Roth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Roth, Philip, Exit Ghost, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Roth, Philip, "'Ί Always Wanted You to Admire My Fasting'; or, Looking at Kafka", Reading Myself and Others, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1961.

Roth, Philip, Shop Talk: A Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work, London: Jonathan Cape, 2001.

Shechner, Mark, Up Society's Ass, Copper: Rereading Philip Roth, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.

Shostak, Debra, Philip Roth: Countertexts, Counterlives, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004.

Wood, James, "Parade's End", New Yorker (15 October 2004), 94-98.

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1 In fact, Nathan first appeared as a character inside the protagonist Peter Tarnopol's fiction in My Life as a Man (1974).

2 Roth has confimed Nathan's exit in an interview with Hermione Lee. Asked if this is the final Zuckerman book, he answers in the affirmative: "Yes, I mean for him to be—in the final words of the book—'gone for good'". "Age Makes a Difference", New Yorker (1 October 2007).

3 Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964 (1961) discusses the ways in which sidewalks contribute to the development of trust in a community.
When Nathan dines in a restaurant on his first evening in the City, he contemplates "one of city life's notable satisfactions: strangers fostering the chimera of human accord by eating together in a good little restaurant. And I was among them. Late in the day to find so commonplace an experience momentous, but I did" (27).

4 Nathan notes such a juxtaposition of old and new on 71st Street, which he visits on the second day of his New York sojourn: "The small Lutheran church across the street, a charming little building with narrow windows and pointed arches and a rough stone facade, though probably built in the early 1900s, seemed designed to transport its Upper West Side congregants back five or six centuries to a rural village in northern Europe" (33-34).

5 Kliman's name, of course, suggests "climbing"; Billy Davidoff, on the other hand, seems to take his name from the recording angel in Malamud's short story "Take Pity" which Roth discusses in a chapter of Shop Talk: A Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work, London: Jonathan Cape, 2001, 127. Roth remembers the name as "Davidoff" although, upon inspection, it turns out that Malamud spelled the name "Davidov".

6 The opposition between the warring urges of Jewish male identity, the nice Jewish Boy, all repressed good behavior, and the Jew Boy, all unleashed appetite, is discussed by Debra Shostak in "Roth and Gender", The Cambridge Companion to Philip Roth, Timothy Parrish ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 113.

7 In a review of Exit Ghost, James Wood notes the abundance of allusions to the works of ageing artists, to Strauss's "Four Last Songs", for example, to Keats's last letter, to the late George Plimpton's work. "Parade's End", New Yorker (15 October 2007).

8 Hope was the name of Lonoff's wife on whose furious departure The Ghost Writer concluded.

9 "I was learning at seventy-one what it is to be deranged. Proving that self-discovery wasn't over after all. Proving that the drama that is associated usually with the young as they fully begin to enter life—with adolescents, with young men like the steadfast new captain in The Shadow-Line—can also startle and lay siege to the aged (including the aged resolutely armed against all drama), even as circumstance readies them for departure" (122-23).

10 The article appeared as "Pictures of Malamud" in The New York Times on 20 April 1986 and is included in Shop Talk. Malamud has often been supposed to have been a partial model for the figure of Lonoff.

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Bibliographical reference

Ellen Levy, « New York as Shadow-Line in Philip Roth's Exit Ghost », Caliban, 25 | 2009, 229-237.

Electronic reference

Ellen Levy, « New York as Shadow-Line in Philip Roth's Exit Ghost », Caliban [Online], 25 | 2009, Online since 13 December 2016, connection on 18 February 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Ellen Levy

Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail

By this author

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Licence Creative Commons
Caliban – French Journal of English Studies est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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