Article Title

To Dazzle as Macbeth: Bisociated Drama in Philip Roth’s The Humbling


James Duban


Philip Roth’s The Humbling dramatizes the insecurities of actor Simon Axler, who fails to grasp that the performer of high drama should not play but become the part. I suggest that the novel incorporates and expands upon dramatis personae, cognitive phenomena, and anthropological rituals featured in the writings of George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, and Arthur Koestler. When viewed, moreover, through Koestler’s theory of “bisociative” thinking—a phenomenon that accounts for surprising points of consistency among seemingly unrelated concerns and fields of consciousness—Axler hardly flops, but rather dazzles, in his role as Macbeth.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.