Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Individual Identity in Philip Roths The Ghost Writer Essay -- Ghost W

Individual Identity in Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer    The idea of self, an individual authentic unique identity, seems to be constantly questioned and challenged in Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer. We are presented with several portraits of artists, writers and would be writers, whose notion of self is in some significant manner tied to their art. Rather than knitting together a unified (rehabilitated?) concept of self, aesthetic creativity, art, complicates and further problematizes the issue of identity. Art simultaneously undermines and underscores insights provided by a supposedly seamless master narrative. The creative impulses and ideas which inspire an artist to create may have little or nothing to do with the meaning or meanings assigned to the art itself by a virtually endless chain of interpreters. Writers are thus distanced from their texts at the same time an audience, a reader, is constructing an identity for him/herself and for the author based on the text.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Nathan Zuckerman, the narrator, is motivated to become a "great" novelist because in part of his romanticized notions of writing and writers. His identity becomes entangled in the works of E.I. Lonoff. Nathan rejects the pleas of his father to place his identity as a member of a family and as a Jew above his identity as a writer. Evoking Joyce's Stephen Dedalus, Roth's Nathan Dedalus places his identity as an artist above other concerns. He seeks a new intellectual/spiritual father in Lonoff. First from Lonoff's writings and then from the personal encounter with Lonoff himself, Nathan hopes that by emulating Lonoff in all aspects, he will become more like the idealized identity he has created as his goal.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Lonoff... ...sentative of a larger group, concept, or commodity. This fracture first promoted by her writing is a source of both hope and agony.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Amy seeks meaning from within her fragmented existence. Where Nathan is brought to the edge of this discovery as the novel progresses, Lonoff retreats from it. Literature is adept at describing and cultivating a fragmented sense of identity; it can motivate others to actions/extremes never sought by the author. Put simply, art encourages interpretation. As writers, each of these three characters is aware of the fact that unity or singularity of interpretation is rarely (if ever) achieved. When also applied to an individual identity such interpretive freedom/ambiguity can be the source of both strength and despair. The notion of self, though perhaps less whole by the end of the novel, still houses a potential for meaning.

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