Roth takes novel revenge on ex-wife Claire Bloom
Sunday 11 October 1998
Roth frequently uses elements of his personality in his fiction. His most famous alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman - who part-narrates this book - was, like his creator, born a Jew in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933 and marries an Englishwoman. Bloom, an Oscar-winner who starred with Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton, was married to Roth for five of their 18 years together. They split in 1995.
In Roth's latest novel, Ira Ringold is an idealistic Communist radio actor who marries a beloved silent-film star, Eve Frame. Their story is retold by Ira's brother, Murray, and protege Nathan. The similarities to real life are highlighted by the central betrayal of the novel; Eve denounces her husband in a book of the same title as Roth's. In the novel, he retaliates: "After that book of hers, all he thought about was how to inflict [human cruelty] ... what this huge man really wanted to do was to lash out."
Bloom, in her account Leaving A Doll's House, published in 1996, told how her relationship with her opera singer daughter Anna - from her first marriage to actor Rod Steiger - was strained by Roth, who forbade the 18-year-old to live with them. She wrote: "Anna, furious and justifiably hurt, said that I had once again chosen a man over her... I feared Anna was right."
Roth was "bored and angered by our obsessive discussions" and "accused me of having an unhealthy preoccupation with Anna".
Roth's novel has other resonances: Eve is a "lonely actress in her forties, three times divorced" (Bloom was married, like Eve, to an actor and a theatrical producer). Bloom said Roth made a pass at her daughter's friend Rachael Halliwell; in the novel, it turns into a full-blown fling with a "Hebrew princess". Bloom's confession that she "lost all control" and "begged Philip not to leave" is echoed in a scene in which Frame on her knees cries to Ira: "I beg you! I implore you! Don't leave me!"
But she threatened to sue Roth after he named a jealous wife in one novel after her. In I Married A Communist, Eve is condemned for her book, because she didn't "own up to the spite" and can only weep and talk about how much in love she had been. Bloom admitted to crying fits while caring for Roth after he had a breakdown.
'I Married A Communist' is published by Cape at pounds 16.99. 'Leaving A Doll's House' is published by Virago at pounds 7.99.
Culture, page 11
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 Comfortable in their own skin
- 3 Japanese plant experts produce 10,000 lettuce heads a day in LED-lit indoor farm
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
Israel-Gaza conflict: Death toll tops 125 after overnight raids as Operation Protective Edge continues
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Gaza-Israel conflict: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to streets of London, Paris and New York in wave of protests
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...