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Cover image for Humboldt's gift
Format:
Title:
Humboldt's gift
Author:
ISBN:
9780670386550

9780436039508

9780140189445

9780143105473
Publication Information:
New York : Viking Press, 1975.
Physical Description:
487 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
Charlie Citrine, suffering from steadily worsening troubles with women, career, and life in general, receives unexpected aid and comfort in the form of a belated bequest from his onetime friend and mentor, the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher.
Local Note:
65031 No'85-gift.
Genre:
Holds:

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Library
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FIC BELLOW
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FIC BEL
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Summary

Summary

Two twentieth-century literary masterpieces from the Nobel Prize winner
Saul Bellow's Pulitzer Prize?winning novel explores the long friendship between Charlie Citrine, a young man with an intense passion for literature, and the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher. At the time of his death, however, Humboldt is a failure, and Charlie's life is falling apart: his career is at a standstill, and he's enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce, infatuated with a highly unsuitable young woman, and involved with a neurotic mafioso. And then Humboldt acts from beyond the grave, bestowing upon Charlie an unexpected legacy that may just help him turn his life around.


Summary

A chronicle of success and failure, this work is Bellow's tale of the writer's life in America. When Humboldt dies a failure in a seedy New York hotel, Charlie Citrine coping with the tribulations of his own success, begins to realize the significance of his own life.


Author Notes

Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, Canada on June 10, 1915. He attended the University of Chicago, received a Bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology from Northwestern University in 1937, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at several universities including the University of Minnesota, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, New York University, and Boston University.

His first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944. His other works include The Victim, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, More Die of Heartbreak, and Something to Remember Me By. He received numerous awards including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Humboldt's Gift, the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, and three National Book Awards for fiction for The Adventures of Augie March in 1954, Herzog in 1964, and Mr. Sammler's Planet in 1970. Also a playwright, he wrote The Last Analysis and three short plays, collectively entitled Under the Weather, which were produced on Broadway in 1966. He died on April 5, 2005.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, Canada on June 10, 1915. He attended the University of Chicago, received a Bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology from Northwestern University in 1937, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at several universities including the University of Minnesota, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, New York University, and Boston University.

His first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944. His other works include The Victim, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, More Die of Heartbreak, and Something to Remember Me By. He received numerous awards including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Humboldt's Gift, the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, and three National Book Awards for fiction for The Adventures of Augie March in 1954, Herzog in 1964, and Mr. Sammler's Planet in 1970. Also a playwright, he wrote The Last Analysis and three short plays, collectively entitled Under the Weather, which were produced on Broadway in 1966. He died on April 5, 2005.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, Canada on June 10, 1915. He attended the University of Chicago, received a Bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology from Northwestern University in 1937, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at several universities including the University of Minnesota, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, New York University, and Boston University.

His first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944. His other works include The Victim, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, More Die of Heartbreak, and Something to Remember Me By. He received numerous awards including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Humboldt's Gift, the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, and three National Book Awards for fiction for The Adventures of Augie March in 1954, Herzog in 1964, and Mr. Sammler's Planet in 1970. Also a playwright, he wrote The Last Analysis and three short plays, collectively entitled Under the Weather, which were produced on Broadway in 1966. He died on April 5, 2005.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

As a critic once observed: ""The language is the character and the action. To say that Herzog is written in the first person would be like saying that Genesis is written in the first person. The voice is the whole case; it contains everything."" Even if, as now, we sometimes stop listening. And even if--to take it a step further--the character is always to a large degree Bellow, while the action (let him describe it) is ""cantankerous erroneous silly and delusive objects actions and phenomena."" In two words, energized chaos. Humboldt, he of the gift, was a ""culture-Jew,"" poet, trickster, genius with a passionate gift of gab and intellectual grandiloquence. He was also a noble man who had attained prominence in the '40's only later to decline not only in terms of fame but physically. Humboldt, with his gin, pills, and his own innate highs and lows of increasing intensity, was institutionalized in Bellevue toward the end and finally dropped dead, alone, in a seedy hotel. His protege, heir and bloodbrother is Charlie Citrine who tells this so-called story: Citrine who wins a Pulitzer and also knows the ""glory and gold"" which attend success; Citrine who has been divorcing his wife for a beautiful girl who pussywhips him; Citrine who becomes involved with a second-string underworld godson and all kinds of manipulative shenanigans; Citrine who gyrates all around the world; Citrine who is left the ""gift""--an outline for a movie script which will net a great deal of that gold. Throughout of course there are some of Bellow's central concerns: the sense of destiny which is never far from the abyss; that ""for self-realization it's necessary to embrace the deformity and absurdity of the inmost being (we know it's there!)"" and Humboldt knew better than anyone that it is there; that light--light which is talent or inspiration or gift--receding in the last years when ""the dark turned darker"" and death becomes an almost daily presence. Bellow writes continually in the recognition of approaching death--both seriously and less so. There's a marvelous piece on our burial malpractices down to ""short sheeting"" with the legs up. But Humboldt/Citrine/Bellow, however well he talks, talks too much. The novel sprawls in a picaresque fashion without the humor of Herzog or the humanity of that nice Mr. Sammler. Still if one is left with ""a kind of light-in-the-being"" that can overcome the terminal terror, it will represent underachiever Humboldt's great achievement. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus Review

As a critic once observed: ""The language is the character and the action. To say that Herzog is written in the first person would be like saying that Genesis is written in the first person. The voice is the whole case; it contains everything."" Even if, as now, we sometimes stop listening. And even if--to take it a step further--the character is always to a large degree Bellow, while the action (let him describe it) is ""cantankerous erroneous silly and delusive objects actions and phenomena."" In two words, energized chaos. Humboldt, he of the gift, was a ""culture-Jew,"" poet, trickster, genius with a passionate gift of gab and intellectual grandiloquence. He was also a noble man who had attained prominence in the '40's only later to decline not only in terms of fame but physically. Humboldt, with his gin, pills, and his own innate highs and lows of increasing intensity, was institutionalized in Bellevue toward the end and finally dropped dead, alone, in a seedy hotel. His protege, heir and bloodbrother is Charlie Citrine who tells this so-called story: Citrine who wins a Pulitzer and also knows the ""glory and gold"" which attend success; Citrine who has been divorcing his wife for a beautiful girl who pussywhips him; Citrine who becomes involved with a second-string underworld godson and all kinds of manipulative shenanigans; Citrine who gyrates all around the world; Citrine who is left the ""gift""--an outline for a movie script which will net a great deal of that gold. Throughout of course there are some of Bellow's central concerns: the sense of destiny which is never far from the abyss; that ""for self-realization it's necessary to embrace the deformity and absurdity of the inmost being (we know it's there!)"" and Humboldt knew better than anyone that it is there; that light--light which is talent or inspiration or gift--receding in the last years when ""the dark turned darker"" and death becomes an almost daily presence. Bellow writes continually in the recognition of approaching death--both seriously and less so. There's a marvelous piece on our burial malpractices down to ""short sheeting"" with the legs up. But Humboldt/Citrine/Bellow, however well he talks, talks too much. The novel sprawls in a picaresque fashion without the humor of Herzog or the humanity of that nice Mr. Sammler. Still if one is left with ""a kind of light-in-the-being"" that can overcome the terminal terror, it will represent underachiever Humboldt's great achievement. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus Review

As a critic once observed: ""The language is the character and the action. To say that Herzog is written in the first person would be like saying that Genesis is written in the first person. The voice is the whole case; it contains everything."" Even if, as now, we sometimes stop listening. And even if--to take it a step further--the character is always to a large degree Bellow, while the action (let him describe it) is ""cantankerous erroneous silly and delusive objects actions and phenomena."" In two words, energized chaos. Humboldt, he of the gift, was a ""culture-Jew,"" poet, trickster, genius with a passionate gift of gab and intellectual grandiloquence. He was also a noble man who had attained prominence in the '40's only later to decline not only in terms of fame but physically. Humboldt, with his gin, pills, and his own innate highs and lows of increasing intensity, was institutionalized in Bellevue toward the end and finally dropped dead, alone, in a seedy hotel. His protege, heir and bloodbrother is Charlie Citrine who tells this so-called story: Citrine who wins a Pulitzer and also knows the ""glory and gold"" which attend success; Citrine who has been divorcing his wife for a beautiful girl who pussywhips him; Citrine who becomes involved with a second-string underworld godson and all kinds of manipulative shenanigans; Citrine who gyrates all around the world; Citrine who is left the ""gift""--an outline for a movie script which will net a great deal of that gold. Throughout of course there are some of Bellow's central concerns: the sense of destiny which is never far from the abyss; that ""for self-realization it's necessary to embrace the deformity and absurdity of the inmost being (we know it's there!)"" and Humboldt knew better than anyone that it is there; that light--light which is talent or inspiration or gift--receding in the last years when ""the dark turned darker"" and death becomes an almost daily presence. Bellow writes continually in the recognition of approaching death--both seriously and less so. There's a marvelous piece on our burial malpractices down to ""short sheeting"" with the legs up. But Humboldt/Citrine/Bellow, however well he talks, talks too much. The novel sprawls in a picaresque fashion without the humor of Herzog or the humanity of that nice Mr. Sammler. Still if one is left with ""a kind of light-in-the-being"" that can overcome the terminal terror, it will represent underachiever Humboldt's great achievement. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.