10+ quotes from I Married a Communist by Philip Roth

Quotes from I Married a Communist

Philip Roth ·  323 pages

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“Look, everything the Communists say about capitalism is true, and everything the capitalists say about Communism is true. The difference is, our system works because it's based on the truth about people's selfishness, and theirs doesn't because it's based on a fairy tale about people's brotherhood. It's such a crazy fairy tale they've got to take people and put them in Siberia in order to get them to believe it.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“If the weather isn't bad and it's a clear night, I spend fifteen or twenty minutes before bedtime out on the deck looking skyward, or, using a flashlight, I pick my way along the dirt road to the open pasture at the peak of my hill, from where I can see, from above the treeline, the whole heavenly inventory, stars unfurled in every direction, and, just this week, the planets Jupiter in the east and Mars in the west. It is beyond belief and also a fact, a plain and indisputable face: that we are born, that this is here. I can think of worse ways to end my day.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“As an artist the nuance is your task. Your task is not to simplify. Even should you choose to write in the simplest way, a la Hemingway, the task remains to impart the nuance, to elucidate the complication, to imply the contradiction. Not to erase the contradiction, not to deny the contradiction, but to see where, within the contradiction, lies the tormented human being. To allow for the chaos, to let it in. You must let it in. Otherwise you produce propaganda, if not for a political party, a political movement, then stupid propaganda for life itself -- for life as it might itself prefer to be publicized.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“If the weather isn't bad and it's a clear night, I spend fifteen or twenty minutes before bedtime out on the deck looking skyward, or, using a flashlight, I pick my way along the dirt road to the open pasture at the peak of my hill, from where I can see, from above the treeline, the whole heavenly inventory, stars unfurled in every direction, and, just this week, the planets Jupiter in the east and Mars in the west. It is beyond belief and also a fact, a plain and indisputable fact: that we are born, that this is here. I can think of worse ways to end my day.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“My father was taking me as seriously as the Ringolds were, but not with Ira’s political fearlessness, with Murray’s literary ingenuity, above all, with their seeming absence of concern for my decorum, for whether I would or would not be a good boy. The Ringolds were the one-two punch promising to initiate me into the big show, into my beginning to understand what it takes to be a man on the larger scale. The Ringolds compelled me to respond at a level of rigor that felt appropriate to who I now was. Be a good boy wasn’t the issue with them. The sole issue was my convictions. But then, their responsibility wasn’t a father’s, which is to steer his son away from the pitfalls. The father has to worry about the pitfalls in a way the teacher doesn’t. He has to worry about his son’s conduct, he has to worry about socializing his little Tom Paine. But once little Tom Paine has been let into the company of men and the father is still educating him as a boy, the father is finished. Sure, he’s worrying about the pitfalls—if he wasn’t, it would be wrong. But he’s finished anyway. Little Tom Paine has no choice but to write him off, to betray the father and go boldly forth to step straight into life’s very first pit. And then, all on his own—providing real unity to his existence—to step from pit to pit for the rest of his days, until the grave, which, if it has nothing else to recommend it, is at least the last pit into which one can fall.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“Why, emotionally, is a man of his type reciprocally connected to a woman of her type? The usual reason: their flaws fit.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“...steeped like a teabag in aristocratic pretensions...”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“Quando la tragedia umana si è compiuta, la si passa ai giornalisti affinché, banalizzandola, la trasformino in spettacolo.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“Sylphid was beginning to play professionally, and she was subbing as second harpist in the orchestra at Radio City Music Hall. She was called pretty regularly, once or twice a week, and she’d also got a job playing at a fancy restaurant in the East Sixties on Friday night. Ira would drive her from the Village up to the restaurant with her harp and then go and pick her and the harp up when she finished. He had the station wagon, and he’d pull up in front of the house and go inside and have to carry it down the stairs. The harp is in its felt cover, and Ira puts one hand on the column and one hand in the sound hole at the back and he lifts it up, lays the harp on a mattress they keep in the station wagon, and drives Sylphid and the harp uptown to the restaurant. At the restaurant he takes the harp out of the car and, big radio star that he is, he carries it inside. At ten-thirty, when the restaurant is finished serving dinner and Sylphid’s ready to come back to the Village, he goes around to pick her up and the whole operation is repeated. Every Friday. He hated the physical imposition that it was—those things weigh about eighty pounds—but he did it. I remember that in the hospital, when he had cracked up, he said to me, ‘She married me to carry her daughter’s harp! That’s why the woman married me! To haul that fucking harp!’ “On those Friday night trips, Ira found he could talk to Sylphid in ways he couldn’t when Eve was around. He’d ask her about being a movie star’s child. He’d say to her, ‘When you were a little girl, when did it dawn on you that something was up, that this wasn’t the way everyone grew up?’ She told him it was when the tour buses went up and down their street in Beverly Hills. She said she never saw her parents’ movies until she was a teenager. Her parents were trying to keep her normal and so they downplayed those movies around the house. Even the rich kid’s life in Beverly Hills with the other movie stars’ kids seemed normal enough until the tour buses stopped in front of her house and she could hear the tour guide saying, ‘This is Carlton Pennington’s house, where he lives with his wife, Eve Frame.’ “She told him about the production that birthday parties were for the movie stars’ kids—clowns, magicians, ponies, puppet shows, and every child attended by a nanny in a white nurse’s uniform. At the dining table, behind every child would be a nanny. The Penningtons had their own screening room and they ran movies. Kids would come over. Fifteen, twenty kids.”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


“McCarthy understood the entertainment value of disgrace and how to feed the pleasures of paranoia. He”
― Philip Roth, quote from I Married a Communist


About the author

Philip Roth
Born place: in Newark, New Jersey, The United States
Born date March 19, 1933
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