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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 fur 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.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099399018
ISBN-10: 0099399016
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jan-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This is the book that put onanism on the literary map; but much more than that, it is a riotous account of adolescence under the smothering eye of a Jewish mother. Roth has gone on to write deeper works but none half as exuberant. First published in 1969. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » There are two voices in Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth's quasi-autobiographical tour de force, though both voices are the voices of the hero. The truer one is best represented by the remarkable section called "Jewish Blues." Here the theme is adolescent rage, middle class New Jersey misery, and filial ambivalence ("a Jewish man with parents alive is a 15-year-old boy, and will remain a 15-year-old boy till they die!"). The tone is at once nostalgic and embittered, rollicking and sad, and the juxtaposition of domestic conventions with the wild masturbatory fantasies of young Alex Portnoy, achingly accurate in every respect, including the highly colored one of the "castrating" Jewish mama, often equals the pathetic brilliance of some of the short stories of Gogol and Babel, besides being, in its rather idiosyncratic way, a closer look at the "generation gap" than anything that has yet appeared in print. The other voice, while rarely losing its original verve, (this is, without doubt, the most "inspired" of Roth's performances), is much less authentic or agreeable: thirty-three-year-old Alex, hot shot lawyer in the Lindsay administration, self-deprecating slob and non-stop lecher, seems not so much a Roth creation as another of those porno-kvetching heroes familiar to readers of Bruce Jay Friedman, replete with bargain-sale displays of fellatio and cunnilingus, as well as an uncomfortable succession of shikses headed by "the Monkey," a votary of East Side Kama Sutra. The affair with Mary Jane, which occupies more than half of the book, is hysterical yet mechanical, private yet desperately unaware, appropriately exhausted on a note of "poetic justice" - Alex becomes impotent, and in Israel. Masterful in parts, phony in others, but obviously a "hot" best-seller. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Philip Roth

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, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has 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." Recently Roth received PEN's two most prestigious prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award 'for a body of work...of enduring originality and consummate craftmanship' and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose 'scale of achievement over a sustained career...places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.' Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013.

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