2016 | 64 | 11: Anglica | 149-158
Article title

The phantom in American Arcadia: Rethinking race in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain

Title variants
Rozważania na temat rasy w powieści Philipa Rotha Ludzka skaza
Languages of publication
The article explores the problem of race and racial ambiguity in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain (2000). Referring to Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination and her assumptions concerning “the Africanist presence,” the paper discusses how the character’s repressed African-American past returns to haunt not only the protagonist but also the reader. As biracial Coleman Silk succeeds in passing for a Jew, his body becomes a signifier whose signified turns out to be problematic. While Roth’s narrative argues that the ideal of a self-made man that the protagonist represents is always already haunted by the ghost of racial uncertainty, it also demonstrates that the issue of race functions in contemporary writing primarily as a metaphor, or “a way of referring to and disguising forces, events, classes, and expressions of social decay and economic division far more threatening to the body politic than biological ‘race’ ever was.” Finally, the paper explores the way in which Roth’s novel addresses the long familiar fear that racial boundaries do not exist and the coherent white American self is an illusion.
Tematem artykułu jest problem przynależności rasowej i związanych z nią niejednoznaczności w powieści Philipa Rotha pt. Ludzka skaza. Bohaterem książki jest czarnoskóry Coleman Silk, którego jasna karnacja pozwala mu na podawanie się za białego człowieka. Odwołując się do książki Toni Morrison pt. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, autorka pokazuje w jaki sposób wyparta przez bohatera przynależność rasowa powraca jako trudne do udźwignięcia brzemię, oraz w jaki sposób problem rasy staje się metaforą społecznych i ekonomicznych podziałów w Stanach Zjednoczonych. Artykuł dowodzi także, że jednym z głównych tematów powieści Rotha jest niepokój związany z faktem, że granice rasowe w istocie nie istnieją, a hegemonia białego człowieka zawsze oparta była na iluzji.
Physical description
  • Department of American Literature and Culture, Institute of English Studies, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin,
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  • Roth, Philip. The Human Stain. London: Vintage, 2001. Print.
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Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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