Portnoy Down Under

Patrick Mullins

    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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