17 July, 2015

Portnoy's Complaint

BY Philip Roth
Book Information1/1/0/US/RH/1969/?  •  220x150x35  •  544

"Portnoy's Complaint", published by Random House in 1969, a decade after Philip Roth's first book "Goodbye, Columbus", made Roth a literary celebrity. The book is a monologue by Alexander Portnoy, as he filled his psychanalyst with details of sexual frustration and misadventure, sometimes in anger, others in despair, and always with coarse expletives. Literary wise, Portnoy reminds me of Holden Caulfield, the angry and equally foul-mouthed protagonist in JD Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", except that Portnoy is funnier like Howard Wolowitz of "The Big Bang Theory". Incidentally, Portnoy and Wolowitz were both Jewish and suffered from some degree of overdue Oedipus complex. But don't pick this book up expecting Wolowitz-like humour; the book is far more explicit in its sexual aluusions, including detailed description of masturbation and the crazy things one can use to aid the process.

This is the first edition first printing with first state dust jacket that was clipped but should otherwise show $6.95. The First Edition Point (FEP) website mentions that all the first edition dust jackets they encountered were clipped, and speculates a wrong first printing of the price. The book is bound in dark blue cloth board with gold lettering, and has red topstain . The copyright page should read "First Printing". This copy is a VG+ one with a VG dust jacket due to chippings along the top edge, compensated by a NF book that is very clean with no marking or foxing.

There is a signed limited edition of 600 copies, numbered and signed by Roth, although FEP suggests that this limited edition is not the actual first edition; I think that's splitting hair. Regardless, if you want an authentic signed book, the limited edition is the one to go for, but be prepared to pay a premium. The signed limited edition lists for above $500 compared to about $100 for the trade edition shown here. 
















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