Statement on the Possible Destruction of Essential Materials Pertaining to Philip Roth

In a series of interviews in 2012, Philip Roth explained why he instructed his literary executors to destroy confidential papers that he entrusted to a single biographer: to control his legacy. At that time, few people took this threat seriously. However, in light of recent events surrounding the Norton biography, Philip Roth scholars across the globe have serious concerns about the projected future of these documents.


Arrangements limiting access to one biographer run counter to conventions of academic inquiry. Scholarship can only be advanced when qualified researchers engage freely with essential sources. As scholars who have devoted our professional lives to studying the fiction of Mr. Roth, we are committed both to honoring his literary legacy and expanding our understanding of what that legacy may entail.

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For these reasons, we implore Mr. Roth’s executors to preserve these documents and make them readily available to researchers. A writer of Mr. Roth’s stature deserves multiple accounts of his life in keeping with the nuance and complexity of his art.


Respectfully submitted,


Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown University, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Aimee Pozorski, Central CT State University, Co-Executive Editor, Philip Roth Studies


Victoria Aarons, Trinity University, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Danny Anderson, Mount Aloysius College, Membership Chair, Philip Roth Society

James D. Bloom, Muhlenberg College, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

David Brauner, University of Reading (UK), former Co-Executive Editor, Philip Roth Studies

David Gooblar, University of Iowa, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Brittany Hirth, Dickinson State University, Treasurer, Philip Roth Society

Pia Masiero, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Brian McDonald, Adelphi University, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Maggie McKinley, Harper College, Program Director, Philip Roth Society

Catherine Morley, University of Leicester, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Ira Nadel, University of British Columbia, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Gurumurthy Neelakantan, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Jessica Rabin, Anne Arundel Community College, Associate Editor, Philip Roth Studies

Bernard F. Rodgers, Jr., Bard College at Simon's Rock, Emeritus, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Maren Scheurer, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, Co-Executive Editor, Philip Roth Studies

George J. Searles, Mohawk Valley Community College, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Philip Roth Studies Advisory Board

Matthew Shipe, Washington University in St. Louis, President, Philip Roth Society

Debra Shostak, The College of Wooster, Emerita, former Co-Executive Editor, Philip Roth Studies

Hana Wirth-Nesher, Tel Aviv University, Philip Roth Studies, Advisory Board

Mike Witcombe, Bath Spa University, Reviews Editor, Philip Roth Studies



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