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Portnoy's Complaint

Portnoy’s Complaint is a 1969 novel by American writer Philip Roth. Widely considered to be his breakthrough work, the novel continues to attract controversy due to it frank, occasionally comic, graphic treatment of sexuality and masturbation. Paper Masters will compose a custom written research paper on Portnoy’s Complaint that follows your guidelines.

Portnoy's Complaint

Portnoy's Complaint - A Monologue

Portnoy’s Complaint is structured in the form of a monologue, a continuous narrative related by the main character, Alexander Portnoy, to his psychoanalyst, Dr. Spielvogel. Roth decided to use the vehicle of psychotherapy in order to delve into intense, intimate sexual detail and coarse language. The novel also explores one of Roth’s major literary themes: the post-War Jewish-American identity. Like many of Roth’ novels, critics are divided as to how much of Roth himself is part of the makeup of Alexander Portnoy.


Portnoy's Complaint and Controversy

The novel’s 1969 publication generated a fair amount of controversy and the work has been subject to periodic banning by libraries for the following 2 reasons:

  1. The frank discussions of sexuality and masturbation
  2. Many Jewish intellectuals have objected to the irreverent portrayal of the Jewish identity

Despite the controversy, the book remains one of Roth’s most popular works and has been included on several lists of the best books of the 20th century. It was also adapted into a Hollywood motion picture in 1972.

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