Essays on the plot against america

the plot against america in the age of trump

So where is Philip Roth, now that we need him? The novel uses the image of the main character's stamp collection in order to consider the fragility of an ideal America, and to explore how ideals are corrupted.

History is indeed unpredictable and democracy precarious. Obviously, it wasn't to inspire those future writers or to intimidate their future rulers that Kafka wrote "The Trial" and "The Castle" in the early years of the 20th century. He is a practical child in a turbulent time, his world made of concrete and immediate fears.

the plot against america pdf

In this book it's the humiliation that helps to tear apart and very nearly disable the family, inasmuch as each person in the family responds to it differently. The great world came into our house every day through the news reports on the radio that my father listened to regularly and the newspapers that he brought home with him at the end of the day and through his conversations with friends and family and their tremendous concern for what was going on in Europe and here in America.

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Smith, despite the casual distaste for Jews expressed by journalists like Westbrook Pegler and Fulton Lewis, despite the blindly self-loving Aryan anti-Semitism of Lindbergh himself, it didn't happen here.

I set out to do exactly what I've done: reconstruct the years as they might have been if Lindbergh, instead of Roosevelt, had been elected president in the election.

Essays on the plot against america

The American triumph is that despite the institutionalized anti-Semitic discrimination of the Protestant hierarchy at that time, despite the virulent Jew hatred of the German-American Bund and the Christian Front, despite the repellent Christian supremacy preached by Henry Ford and Father Coughlin and the Rev. Franklin Delano Roosevelt ends up President again. Philip's stamp collection is first imperiled in a nightmare he relays at the conclusion of the first chapter, after Rabbi Bengelsdorf has given a speech nearly guaranteeing Lindbergh the presidency. Roth realizes that a story about Nazis taking over the United States could easily turn into something cartoonish and outlandish—more suitable for a cheap action movie rather than serious literature from a contender for the Nobel Prize. History is indeed unpredictable and democracy precarious. After all, my reader can't know anything of the history I'm inventing, there is no common knowledge that is complete, and so, though one can allude to Munich or to the Treaty of Versailles, one cannot allude to the Iceland Understanding the nonaggression pact signed in Reykjavik by Lindbergh and Hitler without spelling it out. But then neither did Lindbergh become president.

I don't think it's far-fetched to imagine the election outcome as I do in the book, to imagine Lindbergh's depriving Roosevelt of a third term.

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The Frightening Lessons of Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America”