Portnoy's Complaint

Portnoy's Complaint

by Philip Roth

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Overview

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

The groundbreaking novel that propelled its author to literary stardom: told in a continuous monologue from patient to psychoanalyst, Philip Roth's masterpiece draws us into the turbulent mind of one lust-ridden young Jewish bachelor named Alexander Portnoy. 

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.

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: 24,451
Product dimensions: 5.17(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.62(d)

About 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 twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He 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.” 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. 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. He died in 2018.

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. 29 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 3 months ago
I was taken a abac a number of times by the rage about his Jewish experience and antisemitic remarks.Brilliant,insightful and very funy.
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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