In the vortex of words. The metanarrative dimension of Philip Roth’s Deception


This paper intends to offer a reading of Philip Roth’s Deception by examining the exceptional narrative strategy adopted by the writer who plays a sort of “game of words” with the reader unknowingly implicated both in the form and content of the novel. The adoption of frequent and chaotic dialogues produces a vortex of significant and apparently insignificant conversations able to deceive (hence the title) the reader and the characters involved in an ambiguous reality. In many respects, the “deception” is not only connected with marital infidelity but also with narrative art and the way our lives are conditioned by our and others’ lies. Significantly, the story of a betrayal is staged by a protagonist named Philip and his female interlocutor. Their talks seem to reproduce a dialogue based on the same strategies of a drama, whose main objective is that of convincing the reader of the coincidence between fiction and reality in an unending verbal circularity. At the same time the novel’s metanarrative drive seems to shed light on Roth’s skepticism as to the possibility of an authentic truth in the interpersonal relationship.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v44p81

Keywords: Philip Roth; Deception; metafiction; betrayal; adultery.


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