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English professor edits Roth

by Cindy Weiss - November 7, 2005

The first two volumes of an eight-volume edition of Philip Roth’s collected fiction, edited by Professor Ross Miller, were published recently by the Library of America.

Each volume includes a chronology with commentary on Roth’s life by Miller, a professor of English who is also writing the author’s biography.

Miller has been given unrestricted access to Roth’s private papers and has consulted him while editing his works.

“Having a living writer allows me to check things with the best source available,” he says, “and provides an occasion for me to talk to him about his work. In addition to being a great prose stylist, Philip Roth has a first-class mind. Editing him continues to be an extraordinary challenge and a wonderful pleasure.”

Along with Eudora Welty and Saul Bellow, Roth is only the third writer to be published by the Library of America during the author’s lifetime.

Most writers are not considered to be part of the literary canon until long after their death. “With Roth you have the very unusual occurrence of a writer getting stronger as he gets older,” says Miller.

“In the last 15 years, he has published his best and most critically-acclaimed work. And he continues to write at the height of his powers.”   

The first two volumes, covering works from 1959 to 1972, include Goodbye, Columbus, Letting Go, When She Was Good, and Portnoy’s Complaint, and provide definitive editions of the author’s early works.

Miller expects the Library of America editions will stimulate new critical interest in all Roth’s work.

“I see these eight volumes as the best way to re-introduce a complicated but rewarding author to the reading public,” he says.

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