American Pastoral

by Philip Roth

Seymour "Swede" Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizens, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history.

American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall - of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful inside the beloved hundred-and-seventy-year-old stone farmhouse, in rural Old Rimrock, where he lives with his pretty wife - the college sweetheart who was Miss New Jersey of 1949 - and the lively, precocious daughter who is the apple of his eye.

The apple of his eye, that is, until she grows up to be a revolutionary terrorist bent on destroying her father's paradise. American Pastoral presents a vivid portrait of how the innocence of Swede Levov is swept away by the times - of how everything industriously created by his family in America over three generations is left in a shambles by the explosion of a bomb in his own bucolic backyard.

With vigorous realism, Roth takes us back to the conflicts and violent transitions of the 1960s. This is a book about loving—and hating—America. It's a book about wanting to belong—and refusing to belong—to America. It sets the desire for an American pastoral—a respectable life of space, calm, order, optimism, and achievement—against the indigenous American Berserk.

First Published: 1997

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American Pastoral
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ISBN: 9780395860212      ISBN 10: 0395860210
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin  1997

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American Pastoral
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American Pastoral
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American Pastoral
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