One thought on “1Thinkwell Rot

  1. Roth (LRB, Vol.9, No.5, 5 March 1987): “I’ve had two audiences, a general audience and a Jewish audience. I have virtually no sense of my impact upon the general audience, nor do I really know who these people are. By a general audience I don’t refer, by the way, to anything vast. Despite the popularity of Portnoy’s Complaint, the number of Americans who have read, with any real attention, half of my books – as opposed to those who may have read one or two – can’t number more than fifty thousand, if that. I don’t think any more about them when I’m at work than they think about me when they’re at work. They’re as remote as the onlookers are to a chess-player concentrating on the board and his opponent’s game – I feel no more deprived or lonely than he does because people aren’t lined up around the block to discuss his every move. Yet an unknowable audience of fifty thousand judicious readers (or inventive misreaders) whose serious, silent attention I freely command is a great satisfaction. The enigmatic interchange between a silent book and a silent reader has struck me, ever since childhood, as a unique transaction, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s what the public side of the novelist’s vocation has to come down to.”


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