At Least Associated: When She Was Good and the Vietnam Years

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Over fifty years since its publication, the critical consensus appears to understand When She Was Good (1967) as a curiosity in Roth’s oeuvre. It is time for a reappraisal. This article reads the novel in relation to Roth’s discussion of what he calls “politicization” in “the Vietnam years,” and attempts to rehabilitate the novel and its central character, Lucy Nelson. It argues that the novel is concerned with exploring the gaps between what people say and what they mean, as this pertains to both describing and shaping American reality—an exploration which has implications for understanding the novel’s narrative voice.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-91
Number of pages18
JournalPhilip Roth Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

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