Portnoy's Complaint Background

Portnoy's Complaint Background

Highly controversial and disputed, Portnoy's Complaint is a 1969 novel by Philip Roth which after its publication, sent waves of shock, outrage, and dissension through both critics and the public. The book is infamous for its extremely candid discussion on human sexuality, which includes detailed scenes of masturbation using entirely unorthodox objects.

The plot revolves around Alexander Portnoy, a young Jewish bachelor who has at times uncontrollable lust-driven tendencies. The story is a monologue of him speaking to his therapist, Dr. Spielvogel. Over the course of the story, Alexander touches upon his early sexual adventures, and later on his inner struggle between his moral compass and the impure urges of his libido.

The novel received mixed reviews by critics. Many criticized it for its graphic, even disgusting depictions of masturbation and other sex acts, but some revelled in its candidness in those topics. Nevertheless, the book has remained an eminent work of the 1960's literature era. Recently, TIME magazine included Portnoy's Complaint on its list of "TIME's 100 Best English Language Novels from 1923 to 2005".

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