Portnoy Down Under

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Philip Roth’s third novel, Portnoy’s Complaint (1969), hit the trifecta: it was scandalous, it was critically acclaimed, and it was a bestseller. These qualities made it a potent weapon for challenging the strict system of censorship then in place in Australia—as Penguin Books Australia realized in 1970, when it decided to publish Portnoy’s Complaint, spurring trials that continued for three years. This paper draws on archival sources and interviews to argue that Portnoy’s publication in Australia upended the system of uniform censorship, emboldened publishers and activists to further defiance, drew public attention to censorship, and proved critical to the dismantling of the censorship system that followed in 1972–73.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41–62
Number of pages22
JournalPhilip Roth Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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