A Stretch in the Federal Penitentiary
After his bankruptcy, Roth founded a new publishing house, opened a midtown book shop, and published a comprehensive anthology of quotations from the world’s leading writers past and present. Published under the pseudonym “Norman Lockridge,” it was a highly acclaimed and steady selling work. He also was distributing underground erotica. The FBI as well as the post office investigated. The trial was significant as an early example of the Post Office’s use of the “pandering” concept in advertisements, even of innocuous printed material. Roth spent the years 1937-39 in federal prison. There, he wrote copiously. The unpublished novel “Transfiguration” posited the replacement of Hitler by Yeshea, who brought about a transformation of tyranny into democracy, averting the World War. As fanciful as the plot was, the manuscript contains both modernist and Hasidic themes such as transmigration of souls, the exorcism of demons, and atonement.
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