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Portnoy's Complaint (Vintage Blue) by Philip…
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Portnoy's Complaint (Vintage Blue) (original 1969; edition 1995)

by Philip Roth (Author)

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6,5491391,091 (3.62)218
," . . [a] comic masterpiece, a glittering virtuoso performance. It is laughing-out-loud funny . . ." - Wall Street JournalUnabridged on audio, read by Ron Silver and directed by the author, Philip Roth Portnoy's Complaint is the famously outrageous confession made to his analyst by Alexander Portnoy, the Huck Finn of Newark, who is trust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet held back at the same time by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood. Thirty years after it was first published, Portnoy's Complaint remains a classic of American literature, a tour de force of comic and carnal brilliance, and probably the funniest book about sex ever written. It was recently designated one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century by the Modern Library judges."An American masterpiece." -Life… (more)
Member:Colesa
Title:Portnoy's Complaint (Vintage Blue)
Authors:Philip Roth (Author)
Info:Vintage (1995), Edition: New e., 272 pages
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Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)

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» See also 218 mentions

English (121)  Italian (5)  French (4)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (139)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
274 pages that turn out to be a rant to a psychiatrist. I read this book a few pages at a time and really enjoyed it. I can't imagine sitting down and reading it in one fell swoop. Looking forward to seeing the movie now and seeing how they adapted the book to the screen. ( )
  bjkelley | Feb 18, 2021 |
"You can no more make someone tell the truth than you can force someone to love you."

First published in 1969, 'Portnoy's Complaint' is a long monologue, apparently to a psychiatrist, by Jewish American bachelor Alex Portnoy, . The psychiatrist says nothing until the closing line and is only purely a device to allow Alex to talk aloud. He recounts his Jewish childhood with his neurotic parents and subsequent relationship history in which he sought refuge in experimental sex from his own neuroses.

There are a few major themes in this novel. Identity is certainly one of them. Much of the book centres around what it means to be Jewish, even if most of it features Alex's attempts to avoid such a label. Guilt is another important theme. Alex is raised in a society which trains you to be obedient through arbitrary rules (often featuring food) so that you will obey them in later life but as he grows older, bruised by the consequences of these restrictions, Alex struggles to differentiate between which rules are valid and which are simply ridiculous.

Just like the therapist the reader isn't meant to engage with Portnoy's complaints and opinions merely to listen. Yiddish terms are scattered throughout the book and maybe these meant that I missed some of the finer points that the author was trying to make but whatever the reason after a while I found this a tedious ramble. I would by no means regard myself as a prude but the endless talk about masturbation in particular left me cold. Alex was so selfish that on one occasion he is amazed when a young woman is upset when he breaks up with her, because as far as he is concerned only his feelings count. I cannot say that I actually laughed out loud but did on occasions smile at the scandalous humour. But after a while I just wanted to shout at Portnoy to think about someone else for a change and was tempted to take a break from him.

I had been really looking forward to reading this book beforehand but found it a little hit and miss, a book in which the author simply tries to show just how clever he is and ultimately disappointing. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Feb 10, 2021 |
I decided to reread this novel, which I first read 30 years ago in high school. It doesn't read quite as well this time in light of 2021 values. For one thing, there's a disturbing sexual assault scene right at the end that would have been read very differently in the late 1960s; and there are many references to African Americans and other racial minorities that would never be written now.

But this book remains amazing. It's scandalously sexual- the whole book is about sex and Jewish neuroses related to sex. The book is one long rant by Alexander Portnoy, a 33 year old lawyer raised in Newark by his overbearing mother and constipated insurance-selling father, telling his therapist about his life up to then. We read all about his masturbation, early experiences with local girls, adult relationships with various gentiles, and life with his emasculating mother. It might be tough to understand without some knowledge about America in mid-Century America and Jewish culture in particular.

What's really amazing to me is that Roth writes about the milieu and the culture and the city in which he grew up, so the book obviously reads as autobiographical. And what a bearing of the soul! Roth's later Zuckerberg novels reference the fictional author Zuckerman's scandalous first book which caused his parents such anguish, and I can't believe this book didn't do the same to the real-life author's family. Roth fully commits to Truth (strange to say in a work of fiction, but it's a sort of Truth), damn the consequences. It's an act of courage.

But the Zuckerman novels are better- not as funny or as manic, but better written and less exhausting. ( )
  DanTarlin | Feb 5, 2021 |
Portnoy's complaint is a really insightful and funny book. Although for some reason I found it a bit hard to read much of it at once, it was still an enjoyable read. The way Roth talks about Portnoy's childhood is magically embarrassing. Portnoy is really a character to relate to. If you're a cynical pervert. I'd recommend it. ( )
  superpeer | Feb 1, 2021 |
Funny from beginning to end (often laugh-out-loud funny, and then laugh-even-more funny when reading bits of it aloud to your spouse) but with a core of awful lonely sadness. It reads like something between stand-up and eloquent but extemporaneous speech. This is my first Roth but not my last. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roth, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fontcuberta i Gel, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seemed to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise.
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," . . [a] comic masterpiece, a glittering virtuoso performance. It is laughing-out-loud funny . . ." - Wall Street JournalUnabridged on audio, read by Ron Silver and directed by the author, Philip Roth Portnoy's Complaint is the famously outrageous confession made to his analyst by Alexander Portnoy, the Huck Finn of Newark, who is trust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet held back at the same time by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood. Thirty years after it was first published, Portnoy's Complaint remains a classic of American literature, a tour de force of comic and carnal brilliance, and probably the funniest book about sex ever written. It was recently designated one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century by the Modern Library judges."An American masterpiece." -Life

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