PARIS — Philip Roth has never lived in France, reads French literature only in translation and has never set a novel in Paris, the cliched province of the lonely urban saunterer and existential ennui.
To say the least, the French do not seem to mind. This month, the aging titan of American letters won one of this country’s highest literary honors — an exceedingly rare accolade for a living author, especially a foreign one. All of Roth’s fiction will now be available in the famed “Pléiade,” a series published by the prestigious Éditions Gallimard with the aim of showcasing the highlights of French and world literature.
This means far more than just expensive new editions of his work, printed on pages that feel like the Bible and luxuriously bound in gold-embossed leather. It means that Roth is now an official member of the French literary pantheon, ensuring that generations of foreign readers will study him with the reverence reserved for the “great books.” In a secular society that still tends to venerate literary achievement the way America worships athletics, the Pléiade is, in a sense, the Bible.
Read more at the Washington Post.