The Dying Animal

The Dying Animal

Book - 2001
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David Kepesh is white-haired and over sixty, an eminent TV culture critic and star lecturer at a New York college, when he meets Consuela Castillo, a decorous, well-mannered student of twenty-four, the daughter of wealthy Cuban exiles, who promptly puts his life into erotic disorder.
Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when he left his wife and child, Kepesh has experimented with living what he calls an "emancipated manhood," beyond the reach of family or a mate. Over the years he has refined that exuberant decade of protest and license into an orderly life in which he is both unimpeded in the world of eros and studiously devoted to his aesthetic pursuits. But the youth and beauty of Consuela, "a masterpiece of volupté" undo him completely, and a maddening sexual possessiveness transports him to the depths of deforming jealousy. The carefree erotic adventure evolves, over eight years, into a story of grim loss.
What is astonishing is how much of America's post-sixties sexual landscape is encompassed in THE DYING ANIMAL. Once again, with unmatched facility, Philip Roth entangles the fate of his characters with the social forces that shape our daily lives. And there is no character who can tell us more about the way we live with desire now than David Kepesh, whose previous incarnations as a sexual being were chronicled by Roth in THE BREAST and THE PROFESSOR OF DESIRE.
A work of passionate immediacy as well as a striking exploration of attachment and freedom, THE DYING ANIMAL is intellectually bold, forcefully candid, wholly of our time, and utterly without precedent--a story of sexual discovery told about himself by a man of seventy, a story about the power of eros and the fact of death.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
ISBN: 9780618135875
Branch Call Number: ROTH
Characteristics: 156p. 20cm.


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Mar 30, 2017

I began reading this as my first Philip Roth novel with several intentions but mostly to satisfy an ongoing interest in novels about loss. Those reasons were -
1) clarify the idea this was written by a misogynist
2) appreciate creative prose
3) understand self-emancipation through the particular outlet of Eros

I appreciate the relational aesthetic through which David and Consuela's interactions suggests there is a complex human drive to be understood for our qualities and physical appearance as they exist. David's defeat by Consuela's form portrayed a kind of pathological intoxication in how it progressed downwardly, awkwardly, and darkly, like an intense drug addiction leading presumptively to the reckless abandonment of decency. That quality of sickness made some parts of the story predictable but did not affect my plot speculations because the story managed to preserve a sense of randomness (that was solely governed by David's state of possession).

"The loveliest fairy tale of childhood is that everything happens in order" (p. 148) is probably my favorite line Roth uses to justify David's mentality as something actually complimentary to Consuela's storyline plight. David sort of colonized his own mind with the idea that physical perfection and immortality were somehow related to one another and while such mysteriousness was made manifest in the spectacular form of Consuela, it would somehow remain inconsequential.

The evolution of David's jealously was also quite interesting to behold because it was as insidious as it was clearly irrational. I love how his jealously was used to masquerade all of his peculiar behavior as if to introduce and delineate a new pathological syndrome. Roth does well in creating a stage that explores the ongoing complexity of human sexuality and the stupendously undying pledge of human allegiance to the quest of pleasure.

Feb 08, 2015

Struck me as kind of silly. Protagonist is too hedonistic to engender much sympathy.

May 07, 2012

This book is the work of a master. It is both insightful and intelligent. As well it should probably be read twice to appreciate the conceptual maturity of Roth. The Dying Animal is why we read. Great book.

Apr 27, 2012

Found this book to be magniloquent. Did not feel for the characters nor did I think the author conveyed his message in the best way. Very quick to read for anyone interested in the book.


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