Portnoy's Complaint

Portnoy's Complaint

4.2 29
by Philip Roth
     
 

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Portnoy's Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933- )] A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature. Spielvogel says: 'Acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus are plentiful; as a consequence of the patient's "morality,

Overview

Portnoy's Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933- )] A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature. Spielvogel says: 'Acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus are plentiful; as a consequence of the patient's "morality," however, neither fantasy nor act issues in genuine sexual gratification, but rather in overriding feelings of shame and the dread of retribution, particularly in the form of castration.' (Spielvogel, O. "The Puzzled Penis," Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, Vol. XXIV, p. 909.) It is believed by Spielvogel that many of the symptoms can be traced to the bonds obtaining in the mother-child relationship.

With a new Afterword by the author for the 25th Anniversary edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Roth is the bravest writer in the United States. He's morally brave, he's politically brave. And Portnoy is part of that bravery." —Cynthia Ozick, Newsday

"Deliciously funny...absurd and exuberant, wild and uproarious... a brilliantly vivid reading experience."--New York Times Book Review

"Simply one of the two or three funniest works in American fiction." —Chicago Sun-Times

"Touching as well as hilariously lewd.... Roth is vibrantly talented...as marvelous a mimic and fantasist as has been produced by the most verbal group in human history." —Alfred Kazin, New York Review of Books

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 25th-anniversary edition of Roth's classic novel features a new afterword by the author. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This is the first audio recording of this work, tying in with the 30th anniversary of the novel's publication. Author Roth both chose the reader, actor Ron Silver, and supervised the taping. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Josh Greenfeld
...(If) by this definitive outpouring into a definitive vessel of a recurring theme, thus guilt (screaming,strident, hysterical, hyperbolic, hyperthyroid) has been successfully expiated, and future American-Jewish novels will be all the quieter, subtler, more reflective and reasoned because of it, then this novel can truly be judged a milestone. Books of the Century, The New York Times review February, 1969

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679756453
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/20/1994
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
95,651
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Connecticut
Date of Birth:
March 19, 1933
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955

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Portnoy's Complaint 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Easily the funniest -- and one of the most gratifying -- books I've ever read. Having avoided it for many years (it was published when I was a kid) because I remembered the adults in my (American Jewish) family reacting so adversely to it, I finally gave it a try when I was in my 30s, and I couldn't stop laughing. If I'd read this book as a young woman, it would have saved me 20 years of therapy, because there, on every page, was the kind of neurosis that so many (I'd wager) American Jews -- and possibly American immigrants in general -- experience, and why/how they experience it, and how it gets passed on. It's not just about sex; it's about all the familial (particularly) and social forces that work on us to make us the way we are, and how we're stifled, suffocated. And it's done with incredible humor. It's also a gutsy book, because it paints such an honest, if unflattering, picture, which exposed Roth to the (unwarranted) wrath of mainstream American Jewry. As for the assaults on Roth's (and his narrator's) personality, the accusations of misogyny, etc. -- all beside the point. This book, along with Roth's others, is funny, sharply intelligent, right on point, and a great read. As a reader, that's all that matters to me. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Roth's story of Alex Portnoy is hands down one of the most amazing books you'll ever read. It's a book of flow, a tide you never want to get off. I can't begin to explain how amazing it is: the story of a young Jewish man battling libido and his mother's eternal guilt.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is one of the funniest books ever written. As a woman it has also helped me to understand some of what men may be experiencing (or maybe not!) Anyway, I laughed so hard I cried.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this in secret in high school. Much too controverdial in its first publication for a 16 year old to be caught with. But it saved me! With certain sexual practices still taboo and not for proper conversation, i read this savoring every sexusl experience not for their ability to excite but to supply me with the realization that others masturbated a d loved it and lived for it. I was not alone. Guilt was not necessary anymore. I didn't do it with my fsmily's dinner as Portnoy so hystericslly did: a raw piece of liver thta he uses and washes off and returns to the refrigerator. Classic scene. I was absolved and thankful. Lent it to some eager friends who also read this locked in the bathroom. We shyly talked and came to the understanding with enormous relief that we all enjoyed this taboo practice. I asked if anyone ever confessed to Father McKey when he heard our confessions. We agreed it would kill the old man and we knew before reading Portnoy we were headed for hell. Our friend Jim was caught by his father. His punishment was brutal. This didn't stop us. Portnoy was our god now. We bragged about doing it and like Portnoy aimed for the light bulb. Thanks to Mr Roth for liberating us.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This work is a classic of American literature, and the funniest book I have ever read.I have read almost all of Roth's work and this is in my judgment still the best, the most profoundly moving and the most painfully funny . There is much beauty and truth in this book in its depiction of American Jewish life , and family relations. I do not think Roth is really guilty of the charge of Jewish self - hatred, but rather that he tells a painful truth about what he loves and hates and is closest to. I first read and reread this book years ago, when it first came out, 1968 I believe, in another world and with a different mind - set and religious feeling than I have now.Much of the vulgarity in the book disturbs me today in a way it did less than , but this I think is secondary to the great poetic power of Roth 's writing , and his revealing aspects of experience in a way no one had been able to write of them before. This is an American classic and a book people will be reading and enjoying many years from now.