never return again. Yes, Roth’s readers are in mourning” (“Mourning” 156). At the close of the volume, rich in articles that read Zuckerman as one and the same from a host of thematic perspectives, guest coeditor Miriam Jaffe-Foger delivered Nathan Zuckerman’s eulogy: “we mourn for a future without his keen insights about the emotions of others. […] Holed in his writing quarters, he spent much of the end of his life telling other people’s stories, sharing with us his intricate revelations, so that we might learn, ourselves, to live out our wildest potentials shamelessly” (281).
These words by two important Roth scholars do not simply confirm a shared reading experience, they seem to suggest that Zuckerman leads his paper existence as human beings lead their flesh-and-blood ones. As Manfred Jahn maintained, “a reader must project a pragmatic identity on fictional characters in order to understand description and narrated perception, speech and action” (“Fish” n. pag.). In his pioneering work on fictional minds, Alan Palmer developed Jahn’s suggestions4 and proceeded in a direction that turns out to be particularly in keeping with my present purpose:
Palmer is here referring to the construction of a fictional personality within the storyworld created by a single novel. The challenge I take up here is to follow “the continuing process” of Zuckerman’s evolving characterization through nine books and almost thirty years. One of the topics of this book is the exploration of what kind of coherence can be ascribed to Nathan Zuckerman in spite of the gaps his long narrative presents.
Characterization begins with a first encounter. It begins with a name—in the case at hand, with a Jewish name. Before any other