Roth, Henry

▪ 1996

      U.S. teacher and author (b. Feb. 8, 1906, Tysmenica, Galicia, Austria-Hungary [now in Ukraine]—d. Oct. 13, 1995, Albuquerque, N.M.), published a critically acclaimed first novel, Call It Sleep (1934), then sank into a literary silence that lasted for decades until it was broken near the end of his life. Roth was the son of Jewish immigrants who lived in an area of New York City where life was dominated by Jewish culture. After they moved to a mixed neighbourhood of Irish and Italian immigrants, Roth discovered the sense of isolation reflected in his first novel. Call It Sleep was a portrayal of immigrant life in New York City as seen through the eyes of a young Jewish boy. In 1928 Roth graduated from the College of the City of New York, where he met Eda Lou Walton, an academic, critic, and poet 12 years his senior. She supported him while he worked on his book, which he dedicated to her. After it was published, he started work on another novel but became discouraged, and it was never completed. Roth had joined the Communist Party in the 1930s, and he seemed unable to resolve the conflict between his writings and his politics. He and Walton ended their relationship in 1938, and Roth married composer Muriel Parker the following year. He held a variety of blue-collar jobs before moving to Maine, where he bought a farm and taught. He was rediscovered in the early 1960s when Call It Sleep was issued in paperback. He published a few short stories, but he was most affected by the outbreak of the Six-Day War (1967). When the Communist Party supported the Arabs, his enthusiasm for the party disappeared. After moving to Albuquerque, Roth started work in 1979 on Mercy of a Rude Stream, a series of six related novels about immigrant life in New York City. Despite crippling arthritis, Roth managed before his death to complete the work he had started so many years before.

* * *

▪ American author
born Feb. 8, 1906, Tysmenica, Galicia, Austria-Hungary [now in Ukraine]
died Oct. 13, 1995, Albuquerque, N.M., U.S.

      American teacher, farmer, machinist, and sporadic author whose novel Call It Sleep (1934) was one of the neglected masterpieces of American literature in the 1930s.

      The son of Jewish immigrants, Roth graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1928 and held a variety of jobs thereafter. His novel Call It Sleep appeared in 1934 to laudatory reviews and sold 4,000 copies before it went out of print and was apparently forgotten. But in the late 1950s and '60s, Alfred Kazin, Irving Howe, and other American literary figures were able to revive public interest in the book, which came to be recognized as a classic of Jewish-American literature and as an important proletarian novel of the 1930s. Roth himself published virtually nothing for 30 years after the book's appearance and contented himself with tutoring, raising waterfowl on a farm, and rearing a family. He began writing again in the late 1960s, and his second book, Shifting Landscape: A Composite, 1925–87, a collection of short stories and essays, appeared in 1987. His novel Mercy of a Rude Stream: A Star Shines Over Mt. Morris Park (1994) was the first of a projected six-volume work that returned to the themes of Call It Sleep. A second volume, A Diving Rock on the Hudson, was published in 1995.

      Call It Sleep centres on the character and perceptions of a young boy who is the son of Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants living in a ghetto in New York City. Roth uses stream-of-consciousness techniques to show the boy's psychological development and to relay his perceptions of his family and of the larger world around him. The book powerfully evokes the terrors and anxieties the child experiences in his anguished relations with his father, and the squalid urban environment in which the family lives is realistically described.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ROTH, HENRY — (1906–1995), U.S. novelist. Roth was born in Austria Hungary. When he was 18 months old, his mother brought him to New York, where his father had been working to save money for their passage. In New York, young Roth was close to his mother and… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Roth, Henry — (1906 95)    American novelist. He was born in Austria, and went to the US as a child. He worked as a high school teacher, precision metal grinder and farmer. His Call it Sleep deals with Jewish immigrant life in New York s East Side …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • ROTH, Henry Ling (1855-1925) — anthropologist was the son of Dr Mathias Roth, surgeon of London, and was born on 3 February 1855. He was educated at University College school, London, and studied natural science and philosophy in Germany. In the spring of 1876 he visited… …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

  • Henry Roth — Infobox Writer name = Henry Roth imagesize = caption = pseudonym = birthdate = Birth date|1906|2|8 birthplace = Tysmenitz, Galicia, Austro Hungary deathdate = Death date and age|1995|10|13|1906|2|08 deathplace = Albuquerque, New Mexico occupation …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Roth — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Roth. Henry Roth est un écrivain américain né le 8 février 1906 à Tysmenitz, Galicie, décédé le 13 octobre 1995 à Albuquerque, Nouveau Mexique, aux États Unis. Biographie Henry Roth est un romancier américain, de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • ROTH (H.) — Henry ROTH 1906 1995 Henry Roth est né en 1906 à Tysmenitz, une petite bourgade de Galicie, province polonaise faisant à l’époque partie de l’Empire austro hongrois. C’est dans les bras de sa mère qu’il débarque à Ellis Island, New York. Son… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Henry Ling Roth — (3 February 1855 – 12 May 1925) was an English born anthropologist, active in Australia.Early lifeRoth was the son of Dr Mathias Roth, surgeon of London. He was educated at University College School, London, and studied natural science and… …   Wikipedia

  • ROTH (P.) — ROTH PHILIP (1933 ) Philip Roth est né à Newark, dans le New Jersey, une de ces banlieues de New York où la deuxième génération d’immigrants juifs vint souvent s’installer entre les deux guerres, quittant les taudis du Lower East Side où avaient… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Henry Roth — (* 8. Februar 1906, bei Stanislau, Galizien, Österreich Ungarn; † 13. Oktober 1995 in Albuquerque, New Mexico) war ein jüdisch amerikanischer Romancier und Verfasser von Kurzgeschichten. Sein erster Roman Nenn es Schlaf wurde 1934 veröffentlicht …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Roth (Familienname) — Roth ist ein deutscher Familienname. Herkunft und Bedeutung Roth kann ein Übername sein, der für die Eigenschaft der Farbe Rot steht, häufig ein Synonym für rothaarig. Es ist auch ein verbreiteter jüdischer Familienname, der ersatzweise für die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.