24 Hour Customer Service:
1-570-955-1438

Call for a quote line:
1-570-301-7456

Prague Orgy

Philip Roth introduced the world to his character Nathan Zuckerman in The Ghost Writer (1979), and continued Zuckerman’s story in Zuckerman Unbound (1981) and The Anatomy Lesson (1983).  When the trilogy was compiled, in a volume called Zuckerman Bound (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1985), The Prague Orgy was appended as an epilogue to the Zuckerman opus.  From the starry eyed young writer who sought out E.I. Lonoff, Zuckerman has become a famous writer in his own right.  The Prague Orgy, is set in 1976, and details both Zuckerman’s meeting with a Czech exile (Zdenek Sisovsky) and his subsequent trip to Prague in order to seek out the unpublished short stories of this man’s father.

Prague Orgy

Like most of Roth’s works, The Prague Orgy has the search for Jewish identity as one of its major themes.  In The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman made contact with Lonoff because the man was a living Jewish writer who distilled an essence of “Jewishness” in his stories.  By the time of The Prague Orgy, Zuckerman is in search of the elder Sisovsky’s stories because they are written in Yiddish.  Zuckerman is still searching out his Jewish identity, hoping perhaps to find a clue in the stories of a man who was shot by the Gestapo, simply for being Jewish.

In Prague, Zuckerman falls in with the intelligentsia—writers, actors and artists—who are all suffering under the weight communism.  In order to cope with the suppression of their creativity, these people have turned to debauchery.  Their lives are empty shells of sex and parties, parties and sex, harassed by the police state and forced to make a choice: stay and suffer or leave everything and be unknown.  This group is famous in Prague, but obscure in the West.

In many ways, they are kindred to Zuckerman: searching for meaning in a society imposed from above.  What does it mean to be Jewish in America?  What does it mean to be an artist behind the Iron Curtain?  For both there is a sense of isolation and outsider status.

Related Research Paper Topics