Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man

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First edition cover (Simon & Schuster)

Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man was Joseph Heller's final novel. It depicts an elderly author as he tries to write a novel that is as successful as his earlier work. The novel was published posthumously in 2000. The concept of the novel mirrors that of the life of the author himself in that none of Heller's books sold nearly as well as Catch-22.

Plot introduction[edit]

The story is of Eugene Pota, a prominent writer who, in his old age, is struggling for that last piece of fiction that could be his magnum opus, or at least on par with his earlier writings. Littered throughout the novel are many of Pota's ideas and drafts of possible stories, such as the sexual biography of his wife, or of Hera's trouble with Zeus.

Title[edit]

The title is evocatively similar to James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The main character's name "Pota" is possibly the abbreviation of the phrase "Portrait Of The Artist".

Famous quotation[edit]

"My lord came home from the wars today and pleasured me twice with his boots on" -- Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. This quote influenced the main character (Eugene Pota) to write about his sex book or "The Sexual Biography of My Wife."