San Francisco: The Arion Press, 2018. R. B. Kitaj. Large octavo, 9-3/4 inches x 7 inches, 290 pages, printed by letterpress, full cloth binding with slipcase. Thirteen illustrations in color, three in black and white including the front cover portrait. The edition is limited to 275 numbered copies for sale. New. Item #CNAP113
"Exit Ghost", the 2007 novel by the great American writer Philip Roth, is presented here alongside art work by his close friend the American painter R. B. Kitaj.
We had long hoped to include Philip Roth in the Arion Press publishing program, but were waiting for inspiration on how to present his work, mainly on the question of an artist to illustrate one of his novels. In this case we ran out of patience and made Roth the offer without an artist in mind. As luck would have it, Roth's choice drove the choice of the artist and the scheme for the illustrations. The edition is not signed as planned. Roth died on May 22, 2018, at the age of 85.
The novel's title comes from a stage direction in the first act of Shakespeare's Hamlet when Hamlet's father's ghost refuses to answer questions and then disappears. Roth's protagonist Nathan Zuckerman, elderly and debilitated by prostate surgery, has left the stage. So has Philip Roth.
Critic Charles McGrath wrote in the New York Times obituary, "he was a pre-eminent figure in twentieth-century literature, a prolific, protean, and often blackly comic novelist". He won every prize except the Nobel. When the singer Bob Dylan was awarded that prize, Roth did not express outrage but instead the hope that the next winners would be the folk-singers Peter Paul and Mary. In an interview with McGrath in the New York Times Magazine of January 16, 2018, entitled, "No longer writing, Philip Roth still has plenty to say", Roth was asked what he had been reading recently. "Just in the past week, I read books by two friends, Edna O'Brien's wise little biography of James Joyce and an engagingly eccentric autobiography, 'Confessions of an Old Jewish Painter', by one of my dearest dead friends, the great American artist R. B. Kitaj."
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