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First edition cover
|Cover artist||Honi Werner|
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Preceded by||Rembrandt's Hat (1973)|
|Followed by||God's Grace (1982)|
Dubin's Lives is the seventh published novel by the American writer Bernard Malamud. The title character is a biographer working on a life of D. H. Lawrence. It first appeared in hardcover from the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1979. Portions of the novel originally appeared, in somewhat different form, in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Playboy. It is still in print, Farrar, Straus and Giroux having reissued a paperback edition in 2003 with an Introduction by Thomas Mallon.
The novel begins with two quotations.
What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? – Thoreau
Give me continence and chastity, but not yet. — Augustine of Hippo
The first epigraph points to the notion that Dubin has written a biography of Thoreau and also alerts the reader to the moral complexities that the novel explores. The second connects the novel with themes of promiscuity and spiritual struggle for which Augustine is famous.
William Dubin of Vermont is living the comfortable life of an accomplished writer. Though his marriage to Kitty is slightly timeworn, it is stable and loving. While researching the biography of D. H. Lawrence, he meets twenty-three-year-old Fanny and begins an affair with her. Predictably, the consequences of this act rock Dubin's life and invite the reader to draw parallels with similar events in the lives of the writers Dubin is researching.
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