Portnoy's Complaint

Portnoy's Complaint

Book - 1994
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Random House, Inc.
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.

Baker & Taylor
New York lawyer Alexander Portnoy, a young man dominated by a demanding Jewish mother, plays out a sexual revenge in fact and fantasy, in a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the popular novel. Reprint.

& Taylor

A New York lawyer, dominated by a demanding Jewish mother, plays out a sexual revenge in fact and fantasy

Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 1994
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed
ISBN: 9780679756453
Characteristics: 289 p. ; 21 cm


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Nov 13, 2018

I laughed out loud many times reading this, which is always fun when reading. This is the only book I've read by him, but the author has a rhythm to his writing here that makes it very pleasant to read. It moves along very quickly and feels very animated, despite being one long confession. These bibliocommons reviews don't seems to mention it, but I think this book will especially appeal to Jews and those who are Jewish-adjacent. But even if you're not Jewish, there are countless moments and themes in the book that are universal.

a book about a youth's masturbations. I guess someone had to write it.

Dec 08, 2015

Maybe it's because I took too much time to read this, and left it halfway through to read other books before coming back to it... but I was somewhat underwhelmed. I was annoyed at times by the narrator's whiny tone. On the other hand, Philip Roth can be really funny.

Oct 31, 2014

I know that this is deemed a 'classic', but I just couldn't get through it, which very rarely happens to me. I don't find it especially shocking, so that isn't the issue. Frankly, the problem is that it lacks a compelling story. After several weeks of forcing myself to get through it, I finally gave up!

Jun 27, 2014

After all the hype about this book I had expectations. I found I had to wade through a great deal of masturbating to find a story and I didn't find much of anything. How dare I give a bad review to a classic, well here it is.

Mar 06, 2013

A classic! Recommend.

Algonquin_Lisa Mar 10, 2011

Very much not my thing. A protagonist who spends the whole novel thinking about sex, and constantly practicing the "solo act," repulsed me. It's supposed to be funny. I didn't find it so.

Sep 02, 2010

Extremely probacative and sexual. If your reading this then your probably wanting this book because you heard it's scandalous and it is! But it gets boring sometimes..,


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