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.
With a new Afterword by the author for the 25th Anniversary edition.
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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.From the Back Cover:
"Roth is the bravest writer in the United States. He's morally brave, he's politically brave. And Portnoy is part of that bravery." —Cynthia Ozick, Newsday
"Deliciously funny...absurd and exuberant, wild and uproarious... a brilliantly vivid reading experience."-- New York Times Book Review
"Simply one of the two or three funniest works in American fiction." — Chicago Sun-Times
"Touching as well as hilariously lewd.... Roth is vibrantly talented...as marvelous a mimic and fantasist as has been produced by the most verbal group in human history." —Alfred Kazin, New York Review of Books
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