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Henderson the Rain King

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,975 Ratings  ·  625 Reviews
"It blazes as fiercly and scintillatingly as a forest fire. There is life here; a great rage to live more fully. In this it is a giant among novels."(San Francisco Examiner)

Saul Bellow evokes all the rich colors and exotic customs of a highly imaginary Africa in this acclaimed comic novel about a middle-aged American millionaire who, seeking a new, more rewarding life, de
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Paperback, 330 pages
Published December 24th 2012 by Penguin Classics (first published 1959)
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Manny
Aug 14, 2015 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I enjoyed the book, I have trouble improving on this brief summary from onestarbookreviews:
A rich old man goes to Africa to find himself, only to get tangled up in one huge, extended metaphor with a lion.
Arun Divakar
Jun 20, 2012 Arun Divakar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There is a thriving trade in self-help books which have always baffled me. I could never relate to another person telling me Look, these are the steps you need to take to better your life & if you don't take them you are done for ! Well, no book will be so absolute in saying so but underlying all the sugarcoating there is this message loud & clear in most books of this genre. Then however comes the matter of literature where a clever author without even giving you the faintest clue tie ...more
Barry Pierce
Holden Caulfield goes to Africa.
Richard Hensley
If you can endure the narcissistic, misogynistic narrator-protagonist, if you can pretend to believe that every woman he meets wants to jump his bones, every guy wants to become his pal and no one anywhere wants to slap him silly, if you can abide the phony African setting, if you can shrug off the plot contrivances and force yourself to care about yet another privileged male’s midlife crisis, if you can avoid rolling your eyes out of socket at the “humorous” mishaps caused by the Rabelaisian he ...more
Cody
May 18, 2016 Cody rated it really liked it
Henderson is now one of the more memorable characters in literature for me. A deeply philosophical yet deeply flawed individual. He spends the majority of the novel trying to make amends for his shortcomings and quench what he considers a restless spirit. This novel is chock full of philosophical meanders. A personal favorite:

“What we call reality is nothing but pedantry…The world of facts is real, all right, and not to be altered. The physical is all there, and it belongs to science. But then
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Jason
Dec 17, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010, default
This novel is staggering. It is the story, which we have heard so many times, of a bellicose foreigner who goes to Africa in order to find himself. But something is amiss. This isn't just some person who has lost their way a little bit, but someone that while good intentioned at times is a drunkard and a lout, selfish and violent; while he wants to be a good person, he simply isn't. Then he decides to ditch the tourist Africa and find the true heart of it in order to understand and heal himself, ...more
Io?
Dec 11, 2013 Io? rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strepitoso Bellow. Con questo romanzo la mia mente è volata su su oltre le nuvole, compiendo le stesse piroette fanciullesche che orgiasticamente facevo quando divoravo Zanna bianca. E contemporaneamente è andata giù giù, dentro gli abissi chiaroscuri del mio io, lasciandomi una melanconia sottile.
Nathan Isherwood
read more saul bellow. philip roth does. i hate the word romp. so let's say this book is all about personal exploration. henderson is opinionated, an american bull. he's in africa. he's being ugly and how you'd expect him to be. but he's the only one giving revelations and you couldn't imagine it any other way. he's like a teddy roosevelt mid life crisis tour guide. henderson's a brute with color. it's a search for the meaning of life with your dickhead uncle who owns a brand new chrysler. the w ...more
lori mitchell
Jul 13, 2007 lori mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myfavorites
i loved, loved, loved this book.

this is the book that adam duritz from the counting crows named the song "the rain king" after...i've meant to read it for years and years and just now got around to it. i plan on buying a copy and picking it up once a year or so.

it's just really so enjoyable and really beautiful.

favorite excerpts:
"I had a voice that said I want! I want? I? It should have told me SHE wants, HE wants, THEY want. And moreover, it's love that makes reality reality. The opposite ma
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Betsy Robinson
Feb 24, 2016 Betsy Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is bawdy, spontaneous, poetic writing.

Eugene Henderson, an overblown, twice-married, millionaire pig farmer and violin player is having an existential crisis.
I want, I want, I want, I want, I want!
This is the geshrei that drives fifty-five-year-old Henderson into and through a spiritual quest in Africa. He doesn’t know what he wants, just that “everybody is working, making, digging, bulldozing, trucking, loading, and so on . . .” until it is a form of madness. (I think he would be right
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Jamie VW
Apr 01, 2013 Jamie VW rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I need to stop reading Saul Bellow.

In fact, 2/3rds through this book, I was announcing that I was swearing off all mid 20th century male writers. But I'll walk that back some and just come to the point where I announce that I have now tried Bellows three times and there is something that absolutely turns me off. I had thought that since I had read two minor works (cue Squid and the Whale joke), The Bellarosa Connection and Mr. Sammler's Planet, I should try one selected as part of the cannon. Ye
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Evandro
Feb 21, 2016 Evandro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eis um livro surpreendente. Não era o que eu esperava que fosse antes de começá-lo nem tampouco o que passei a esperar que fosse depois que iniciei a leitura. É sem dúvida uma obra-prima. Saul Bellow consegue obter uma mescla perfeita de ação e reflexão, de trama e devaneio. Os pensamentos dos personagens já dariam um grande livro, mas a estes ainda se somam suas peripécias e as reviravoltas da trama. Impressionante, carismático, divertido e profundo. A tradução portuguesa, da Livros do Brasil ( ...more
Vale
Oct 19, 2013 Vale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dice tu vuoi vivere, Grun-tu-molani. L’uomo vuole vivere.

In queste calde giornate di luglio, l’idea della fuga ritorna nella mia mente come un mantra. Ci sarà un altrove?

Un luogo diverso non solo nella lingua, nei costumi e nell’architettura, ma nelle persone e nei valori di cui sono portatori. Fatico sempre di più ad incastrarmi nel modus vivendi di chi mi circonda e la letteratura resta uno dei pochi luoghi inviolati in cui riesco a respirare.
Penso ad Enrico Baj perché nel saggio Ecologia del
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David
Dec 30, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rich white dudes on African safari, rain kings, lions
Huh — so, the plot of this book, I say to myself, having chosen it at random from Peter Boxall's 1001 Books list, is a rich white guy goes to Africa to learn the meaning of life from the noble savages. Oh, I can see that this will turn out well.

Saul Bellow is one of those Big Literary Dudes I've never read, but by reputation I was expecting him to be kind of like Philip Roth or J.M. Coetzee (who I did not love) — lots of manly wangsting to the tune of Fond Memories of Vagina.

Okay, let me dial do
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Stacie
Jul 14, 2009 Stacie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, 1001books
...in an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuitof sanity can be a form of madness, too.

This book is filled with little gems like these. This is, by far, my favorite Bellow. He plots out the self-exploration of a millionaire with wit and humor, a look at what it is to love and be loved, and most importantly, the difference between what it means to be and become.

We are all looking for the truth, but in that search do we become slaves to our own f
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Mitchel Broussard
Mar 01, 2011 Mitchel Broussard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-college
I imagine that chick from Eat Pray Love owes a lot to this book. Some rich and successful but oh-so-depressed dillhole decides to go to Africa because, you know, foreign countries have ALL the answers because they're SO mysterious!

I don't even feel like explaining. Henderson is a grade A asshole, even when he starts to "become" or whatever the fuck that means. I didn't care about him. I didn't care whether he "became" and I didn't care whether that baby tiger he takes home with him on the plane
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David
Sep 04, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Now I have already mentioned that there was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it got even stronger. It said only one thing, I want, I want! And I would ask, 'What do you want?' But this was all it would ever tell me.
I've never been to Africa. I'd love to though - if anyone wants to float me a one-way ticket to Ouagadougou, maybe a layover in Zürich to pick up some luxury essentials, I'
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Drew
So far I've only read this and Dangling Man, but I'm convinced that Saul Bellow is the most overrated American author of the 20th century. I will say this for it: the main character is complete, and very real-seeming. I almost feel like I've met him.

But that is just about the only good thing I can say about this book, apart from a few bits of all-right prose. It reads like I assume Eat, Pray, Love would, were I to actually read THAT: imperfect white person goes to a third world country in search
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Judy
This is the fifth Saul Bellow novel I have read. I started with his first, The Dangling Man (1944) and moved along. I don't know that he is currently read much (and I don't know why), but I just love his novels. I would think that an author who won three National Book Awards, a Pulitzer, and the Nobel Prize should be an American treasure.

Henderson is a character who could only have been created by Bellow. Larger than life, literally and figuratively, socially embarrassing, personally challenged
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Simona
Oct 22, 2013 Simona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Non è stato facile leggere questo libro: un po' perché lo stile di Bellow è a tratti ripetitivo e prolisso e anche perché dovevo abituarmi al suo stile.
Il protagonista di questo romanzo è Eugene Henderson, un uomo di 55 anni minato nel corpo, in quanto reduce di guerra e nell'anima, a causa dei suoi due matrimoni fallimentari. Eugene, decide a un certo punto della sua vita, stanco della ricchezza che possiede, di partire per l'Africa.
L'Africa che visita e che il lettore scopre con i suoi occ
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Elizabeth
Dec 11, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a struggle for me but I enjoyed it. I was not offended by the stereotypical depiction of Africa nor the bumbling, blustering, outrageous (self-described) Henderson but I don't know if I got much out of it except the fabulous word play and the idea of the spiritual hunger which ran through the book. The famous line "I want, I want, I want..." is one that certainly all have experienced. It was perhaps the juxtaposition of crude humor and lofty philosophical thoughts that left me a bit baf ...more
Erin
Aug 02, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who thinks the best is yet to come
I read this book a long time ago but I'll never forget Saul Bellow's description of the two types of people - be-ers and becomers. Some people are content where they are and know how to appreciate each day: being. Others are always looking for what's next, focused on change, struggling every day to figure out where and who they want to be: becoming. I felt like he was speaking to ME about this. It is a wonderful and bizarre story with some truly identifiable characters and sentiments.
Ahmad Sharabiani
464. Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow (1915 - 2005)
عنوان: سلطان باران؛ اثر: سال بیلو (بلو)؛ مترجم: عباس کرمی فر؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، اردیبهشت، 1363، در 480 ص، موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آمریکایی قرن 20 م
نوشته هایم را ویروسها اینورس یا حذف میکنند، نوشته بودم: کتاب نامزد دریافت جایزه پولیتزر شد، سا بیلو (بلو)، در سال 1988 برنده جایزه نوبل شد، و سپس برنده ی مدال ملی هنر در سال 1988
Gabriele
Jul 25, 2015 Gabriele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gabriele by: Fewlas
Da dove partire? Ah, sì, partiamo con il dire che Saul Bellow è uno di quegli autori che piacciono a me, uno di quegli americani che hanno aperto, spesso inconsapevolmente, le porte al postmodernismo, un po’ come John Barth o Philip Roth o DeLillo, gente che un giorno, subito dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, si è messa alla propria scrivania e ha iniziato a buttar giù storie che ritraessero i propri contemporanei, spesso da un punto di vista imparziale, a tratti volutamente cinico e/o umoristico ...more
C.
Jan 30, 2013 C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henderson The Rain King certainly provides food for thought. Eugene Henderson's macho character was modeled after another famous E. H. This E. H. was a boozer, went to Africa and carried his macho weight around like a club as does Eugene Henderson, and at times, wanted to blow his brains out. As many people of the day went off to Africa - however, notes Henderson, 'man goes into the external world, and all he can do with it is to shoot it?' Eugene just wants to set the record straight, with hims ...more
James
Told from the point of view of one of the more larger than life characters in literary history, Bellow's novel portrays a search for the kernel of life, the desire for the good. Henderson explores the further reaches of Africa (at least in his mind) and comes closer to understanding his own deepest desires. Searching to find these Henderson goes on safari to the Dark Continent in search of self, or Ernest Hemingway. The novel is full of satire, extreme characterizations, and raucous jokes. It is ...more
Vit Babenco
Jan 19, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Are the modern achievements of civilization good or evil? Isn’t it better to return to the primordial roots and become a part of a nature?
Henderson – “a giant shadow, a man of flesh and blood, a restless seeker, pitiful and rude, a stubborn old lush with broken bridgework, threatening death and suicide” – is tired of civilization and in search of human origins he runs away to Africa.
“All human accomplishment has this same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough
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James
Nov 25, 2012 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Reading this book quickly became a sort of dull, courtroom procedure of listening in my head to all the testimonials confirming and explicating the number of times I experienced literary deja vu while taking note of the heavy-handed, existentialist-laden themes that continuously cropped up throughout the narrative. Wanted to like it but felt dragged along into terrain that by this point is way too familiar.
Will
Jul 04, 2016 Will rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every now and then I hear Henderson referred to, usually by some inebriated moralizer, as racism-lite, and at least for younger readers the recent spanking Francine Prose gave the novel is still fresh. Bellow's Africa is obviously unreal and in some instances clearly not well thought out: King Dahfu struggles with simple declarative sentences ("I am please. Most significant.") before shifting to grammatically complex lyricism ("A dull will produces a very dull good, of no interest."). This is al ...more
Arukiyomi
Jan 01, 2016 Arukiyomi rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
Boy this took ages to read. Just couldn’t really get into it until the last 100 pages or so. Couldn’t really place my finger on why, but I think it was just too much of the Bellowesque introspection going on.

If you’ve read novels like Herzog, you’ll know what I mean. But whereas with Herzog, it all takes place in one continent, with Henderson, you find yourself kind of inexplicably in Africa for most of the novel. Quite why this is, even the protagonist finds hard to fathom. It’s almost like Bel
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Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He attended the University of Chicago, received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, and served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

Mr. Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man, was pu
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