I Married a Communist

by Philip Roth

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

As Linda Grant points out in The Guardian's review of I Married a Communist (see the link below), much of Roth's book is a reflection of his own failed marriage to the actress Claire Bloom. As Grant writes, Roth's motive in writing the book seems to be partly to gain revenge against Bloom.

Bloom is in many ways similar to the character of Eve Frame. Eva is the Jewish wife of Ira Ringold, whom the main character (Nathan Zuckerman) hears about from Ira's brother, Murray. After Claire Bloom's relationship with Roth ended, she wrote a memoir called Leaving a Doll's House that was incredibly critical of the relationship and that stated Roth's antagonistic relationship with her daughter in part caused the breakup. In I Married a Communist, Ira Ringold does not get along with Eve Frame's daughter, Sylphid, who convinces her mother to abort Ira's child. Later, Eve Frame writes a book called I Married a Communist, which destroy's Ira's career during the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Roth's novel is in part a method of getting revenge against Claire Bloom, many critics believe.

In addition, this novel is a meditation on the way in which history affects those in its grasp. While Ira is caught up in a personal battle with his wife, Eve, he is also affected by the anti-communism of the 1950s. McCarthyism also affects Nathan Zuckerman, who is caught up in the attraction of communism. In Roth's novel, characters find that the political is personal and that their lives are part of the larger currents of American life.

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