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Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

Portnoy's Complaint (original 1969; edition 1994)

by Philip Roth

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5,27099838 (3.65)176
Title:Portnoy's Complaint
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:Vintage (1994), Edition: international, Paperback, 289 pages
Collections:Your library

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Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)


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English (86)  Italian (6)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
"So. Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family's dinner."

This is just one of many hilarious, and brashly descriptive images from this book! Holy mackerel is it raw and uncompromising! It reads like a therapy session, 30 something Alexander Portnoy talking to Dr. Spielvogel. Alex has a constipated father, and overbearing mother, and an obsession with his penis, masturbation, and shikses/the goyim! (did I mention he's Jewish?) He has a wonderful sex partner in The Monkey, and quite an introduction to sex with Bubbles Girardi (his poor eye!). Basically, if you want to laugh, read this book! Oy vey! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jun 11, 2015 |
A rather unusual book........one that went along more easily than i would have thought had i known what i was diving into ahead of time. It is basically the ranting self-deprecating stream of consciousness rambling of a very Jewish young man to his therapist, feebly attempting to make sense of his chaotic, guilt-ridden life. Having, myself, grown up in a very middle-class, very WASP-y central PA neighborhood, my personal connection to anything Jewish was virtually non-existent....that was until i was fortunate enough to get accepted to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I was then confronted with an entirely different culture of Ivy League Jewish students that had obviously had a very different upbringing than I did, most from the Metropolitan New York/Long Island area. Habits, clothing, priorities, religious practices, accents, attitudes, food, and so much more that was completely new to me, so different in some respects that i definitely felt the odd man out. It was merely my complete ignorance; the dictionary definition type. I just did not know. And, of course, over time, it all eventually melded into that wonderful period of time known as my college years, some exciting times. I bring this all up because this very personal (actually, a little too personal, possibly!) account of growing up Jewish in a North New Jersey suburb opened my eyes to the basis of all those differences i experienced with my new college counterparts; actually made me say to myself....Ahhhhh, now i get it! And that new insight probably made me like this book more than i might otherwise have. Its mix of very funny humor, graphic explicit sexuality, pontification on religion and social justice, and a sharply accurate representation of growing up an adolescent male in a family setting is both fun, interesting and slightly off-putting. Roth's character (or are they caricature?) studies of his parents are certainly the best and funniest parts of the book. Again, odd, but worth it. ( )
1 vote jeffome | Apr 6, 2015 |
Scoppiettante e grottesco, questo libro assume ancora maggior valore se si pensa all'anno della sua pubblicazione, il 1967. R. non risparmia nulla e nessuno, sopratutto il protagonista, dalla sua critica acida al conformismo e alla ipocrisia, e cosparge tutto di osservazioni così emotivamente dettagliate che fanno stupire. Un grande scritto di liberazione dell'inconscio, per nulla catartico. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
"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."

Sounds intriguing? Published in 1969, Portnoy's Complaint is probably the breakthrough novel that made its author, Philip Roth, famous. It describes Jewish protagonist Portnoy growing up to sexual maturity and his sexual endeavors through adolescence and adulthood. All this is given in monologue by the protagonist. Both book cover and epigraph suggest that Portnoy relates his exploits lying on a psychologist's couch and receiving therapy. In the end, however, there is a punch line, which Roth actually captioned as such. I will of course not give it away here.

This book is filled with stories about sexual encounters and also includes somewhat graphic descriptions of the goings-on in Portnoy's sex life. While this might be a bit shocking to find in a book it is actually not very unusual for a postmodern novel published in the late 1960s. Roth's wit and the humorous way in which sex is depicted in Portnoy's Complaint add to a special and worthwhile reading experience. At several points in the reading process I found myself thinking 'No, he did not just write that.' This is one of the few books that made me laugh out loud while reading.

Now, who should read this book? People interested in a description of the hardships of growing up as a Jewish boy in 20th-century America. People who like wit and humor in a novel. People who liked other books by Philip Roth. People who want to read a story that is different from (almost) everything they have read before. People interested in the topics of sexual frustration and sexual desire. People interested in the oddities of growing up as a Jewish boy who discovers he has a penis.

On the whole, Portnoy's Complaint is certainly a very enjoyable read with an ending that makes you laugh even more. You certainly will not be bored. 4 stars. ( )
1 vote OscarWilde87 | Nov 28, 2014 |
I picked up this book completely ignorant of its content, When I realised it was a first-person Jewish introspection I was concerned it would be a tedious ramble, reminiscent of Jacobson's The Finkler Question. I was pleasantly surprised; I found this book hilarious. I thought the ending was weak, but enjoyed how Portnoy spent his time complaining about traits in his mother that he himself possessed. ( )
  martensgirl | Jul 21, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (26 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679756450, Paperback)

Along with Saul Bellow's Herzog, Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint defined Jewish American literature in the 1960s. Roth's masterpiece takes place on the couch of a psychoanalyst, an appropriate jumping-off place for an insanely comical novel about the Jewish American experience. Roth has written several great books--Goodbye, Columbus and When She Was Good among them, but it is perhaps Portnoy's Complaint for which he is best known.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:04 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Philip Roth's bestselling novel, which takes the form of a monologue featuring the confession of a comic character who is thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet at the same time held back by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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