The famous confession of Alexander Portnoy, who is thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet held back at the same time by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood. Hilariously funny, boldly intimate, startlingly candid, Portnoy’s Complaint was an immediate bestseller upon its publication in 1969, and is perhaps Roth’s best-known book.
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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