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Portnoy's Complaint (1969)

by Philip Roth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,7071411,102 (3.62)228
," . . [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)
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» See also 228 mentions

English (124)  French (4)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
Meh. I finally read this from Boxall's list. The NY Times Book Review called it, "A deliciously funny book, absurd and exuberant, wild and uproarious." I found it unfunny and annoying. I can see how it was shocking for it's time, for me now, it is shocking in it's treatment of women. ( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
Interesting book about Alexander Portnoy and his complaint, actually should be, complaints. There are very many, his parents, religion, sex, his sex life all being told to his doctor. I would imagine that when this book was published it was probably very controversial with its free flowing talk of sex.

One problem that I have with this book is the use of Yiddish words with no definition for those who are not familiar with the language. ( )
  foof2you | Aug 22, 2021 |
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth (1994)
  arosoff | Jul 10, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
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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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