The demagogue is usually sly, a detractor of others, a professor of humility and disinterestedness, a great stickler for equality as respects all above him, a man who acts in corners, and avoids open and manly expositions of his course, calls blackguards gentlemen, and gentlemen folks, appeals to passions and prejudices rather than to reason, and is in all respects, a man of intrigue and deception, of sly cunning and management.
The Humbling is not vintage Roth, despite its compelling premise. The bizarre series of episodes -- mostly sexual encounters with women -- which make up this short novel don't play to Roth's strengths. (. . . ) The Humbling disappoints because it avoids these universal implications, and veers off into a baroque world of the unique and fantastic, never quite deigning to make its world concrete or to give its characters the honour of an independent will.