New York: S.i., 1968. Short, superb letter from Roth to American journalist, author, and three-time Guggenheim Fellow Louis Sheaffer (1912-1993), best known for his two volume biography of Eugene O'Neill (O'Neill: Son and Playwright, 1968, and O'Neill: Son and Artist, 1973). "Delighted to hear that the O'Neill biography Volume One is completed and ready to be published. You must feel exhilirated--and exhausted. I would help if I could, but I don't know a damn thing about O'Neill and am hardly qualified to make a judgment on your biography. There are better people than me for the job, truly. I do wish you all the luck with the book, prized and sales and reviews, the works!" Indeed, Roth's words would prove prophetic; the second volume of Sheaffer's O'Neill biography would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1974, and nominated for the National Book Award for Biography the same year.
Four months prior to the publication of Portnoy's Complaint, Roth expresses his thanks for Sheaffer's advance praise of his novel, portions of which had already been circulated in various literary magazines. "Thanks for your congratulations on my new book. Yes, it's seized the imagination: talk about your penis and the whole world stands up and applauds. Who would have thought it?" Esquire (April, 1967) published an excerpt titled "A Jewish Patient Begins His Analysis." Partisan Review followed in the Summer, 1967 issue by publishing "Whacking Off," with New American Review publishing "The Jewish Blues" in its inaugural issue, marking Alexander Portnoy's first appearance. Item #4744
Typed letter on pale gray laid paper (measuring 6 7/8" x 9 7/8"), dated September 3, 1968; 18 lines (109 words), and signed "Yours, Philip" above lower fold. Two old folds and a few creases smoothed-out, else quite well-preserved. With original mailing envelope, franked, postmarked September 3, 1968; a bit roughly opened – Very Good.