The Victim
Saul Bellow
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The Victim

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  894 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Bellow's second novel features Asa Leventhal, sub-editor of a trade magazine, and he is a natural victim; a man uncertain of himself, never free from the nagging suspicion that the other guy might be right. So when he meets a down-at-hell stranger in the park one day and finds himself being accused of ruining the man's life...well, he half-believes it. And because he half-...more
Paperback, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1970 by Signet (first published 1947)
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Sentiva oscuramente che il disordine e la confusione facevano parte del prezzo che era costretto a pagare per il proprio riscatto.

Leventhal, ovvero: la redenzione attraverso la sofferenza, ovvero: il novello Giobbe.

La storia di un ebreo americano che vive a New York e che si trova a dover affrontare l’afa dell’estate senza la moglie. Gli fanno visita i fantasmi del passato mascherati da Allbee, una vecchia conoscenza che gli imputa la colpa della propria rovina. Leventhal vittima di uno stalker...more
It's impossible to please everyone. Hopefully, there isn't a soul on this earth that doesn't realize that, even if it takes them a while to do so. An obsession with appeasing people in life is, in my opinion, one of the most vain and futile preoccupations that a person can have. For every individual, there is bound to be at least a handful of people that they will be despised by. It rarely takes very much either. We make judgements based upon someone's image, ideology, dietary preferences, habit...more
Who is the victim?...and of what?...even after having finished reading this novel I'm not sure. What I'm sure of is that it is a wonderful novel.

I loved the complexity of the protagonist, and the ambiguity of it in life, it's hard to figure out who is guilty and of what. In that sense the novel felt philosophical at times. For the first fifty pages or so, things felt much too simple and the characters stereotyped but the rest of the book was excellent- it more than made up for it. P...more
It was impossible to tell, in starting out, what was going to happen. And it was unfair, perhaps, to have to account at forty for what was done at twenty. But unless one was more than human or less than human, as Mr. Schlossberg put it, the payment had to be met. Leventhal disagreed about “less than human.” Since it was done by so many, what was it but human? “More than human” was for a much smaller number. But most people had fear in them – fear of life, fear of death, of life more than death,...more
The way Bellow writes, the main character Leventhal is a living breathing sweaty presence as heavy as the New York summer humidity and the un-air-conditioned subway cars that pervade this novel. Bellow writes in a precise, descriptive manner, and the tension rarely flags, so it is difficult to turn away from a character (and thus from the novel itself) who otherwise would be too rancorous and unlikeable to endure.

Leventhal is, essentially, angry: at other people who are disloyal or disrespectful...more
Feb 12, 2008 Matthew rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of Saul Bellow
There are some authors who could write about almost anything and I would follow along quite eagerly. Unfortunately, Saul Bellow is not one of those authors.

The victim is a story about Asa Leventhal and his unexpected acquantance, Kirby Albee, who accuses Leventhal of deliberately ruining his life. While the premise was promising, I was disappointed with where it went. The implicit threat that Albee represents is never really carried through, despite the fact that there were myriad oppurtinities...more
Chiara Pagliochini

Asa Leventhal è un ebreo che vive a New York, socialmente ed economicamente ben piazzato. Quando la moglie lo lascia per trascorrere qualche settimana fuori città, Asa comincia ad avvertire una schiacciante sensazione di pesantezza e solitudine. Ad aggravare il tutto subentrano complicazioni di salute del nipotino Mickey e gli allarmismi della cognata Elena, che in assenza del fratello Max ricadono sulle sue spalle. Ma, giacché l’abitudine ci insegna che se qualcosa va male potrà andare solo...more
Jul 19, 2009 Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: All; Fans of Americana
Recommended to Tyler by: Author's Reputation
For the same reasons I liked Mr. Sammler's Planet and Seize the Day, I like this earlier novel of Saul Bellow’s, too. Each is a thinking novel, and each imprints Bellow’s distinctive touch.

The plot centers on the fallout from a job interview. The hero, Asa Leventhal, is beset by a man who lost his job because of something Leventhal once did during an interview. Leventhal had no idea this would happen. He looks back on that interview one way. But as he asks around, he discovers that other people...more
Here is what I posted, a few minutes ago, about the novella THE VICTIM is based upon: "THE ETERNAL HUSBAND is the model for Saul Bellow's novel, THE VICTIM. Having read and liked THE VICTIM, I decided to read Dostoevsky's novella. I read it in the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky. Dostoevsky's masterpiece is not only the model for Bellow's book, it is the blueprint. Bellow's genius was to introduce the theme of antisemitism into Dostoevsky's story of a Christian sinner and his Christian nem...more
As I was reading this book, I enjoyed the writing and was intrigued by the progression of events. However, once I finished it, I didn't grasp the whole of the book. I felt disappointed.

But then I realized that I couldn't stop thinking about it. I think everyone can think of a time in their life, even to a minor extent, when they could relate to Leventhal and understand the inner torment and paranoia that he goes through.

What would you do if a stranger outrageously accused you of ruining his li...more
Yet another literary plot which would've been nullified by the existence of air conditioning.

Bellow's muscular rpose was as strident as ever. My wife read this a few years ago and pointed out how Edward Albee's Zoo Story has a similar plot device: oh, the antagonist is also named Allbee in Bellow's novel.
While the book was not a bad read, it didnt succeed in holding my attention too well. I had to continuously make myself read it, which is not really a positive judgement to make on a book.
A profoundly disappointing book. I don't even feel enough to vent about it - just apathetic, willing to let it fade out of memory.
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Having read Humboldt's Gift and proudly declaring myself a lifelong fan of Saul Bellow I feel like I am crashing back to earth with this novel. Kafkaesque is normally used in positive way but in this novel I feel could be applied negatively (as in you are not sure what is the problem and who is supposed to be the victim) Bellow's writing is very good and descriptive, he captures the inferno hot New York brilliantly. The issue however is the story. Asa Leventhal meets somebody (Albee) who blames...more
I had a hard time getting into this book, and when I eventually finished it, I felt like I must have missed something. The story itself was decent -- Allbee, believing that Asa Leventhal deliberately got him fired, hounds Leventhal for some kind of assistance, though the two men seemingly hate each other. Allbee presents quite a few anti-Semetic views, which was difficult to take.

One thing that really bothered me about the way this book was written is that Bellow would describe a gesture or a bi...more
Mark R.
As a newcomer to the writings of Saul Bellow, I probably could have picked a better introduction than "The Victim." I came across the book at a library book sale, bought it for fifty cents because I recognized the author's name, and while it's a good novel, and is worth more than fifty cents, it didn't drawn me in or get my interest as much as I'm led to believe some of his other books might.

In "The Victim," Asa Leventhal is left on his own for a few weeks while his wife takes care of some famil...more
Who is the victim? Asa Leventhal, his brother Max, Albee, Mary, or all of them? In a labirenth of scenes, you face with lots of ordinary, and at the same time important things in man’s life, what makes you thinking about your responsibilities. All above his brother’s family problems, his wife's brother, and... Leventhal meets Albee whom he can’t remember but has had a big roll in his life! One goes through an unimportant situation which unbelievably changes important things in other's lives!
Every sentence in this 1947 novel by Saul Bellow is rich and worth savoring. As I was following the plot I kept wanting to slow down and read whole paragraphs over again. The setting is so much a part of the tone of the character Leventhal's state of mind. Most of the time it is a stifling NYC August without air conditioning. I really don't know how people survived from the descriptions in this book. Leventhal is an interesting main character. He is very average. His nemesis is a man named Albee...more
Again a book on the theme of anti-semitism, but here is merely a fragmentary presentation without force, about which is woven a plot of a kind of Dostoyevskian nightmare quality. When Asa Levinthal is held responsible by Kirby Allbee, (whom he knew but casually and disliked because of his strong anti-semitism) for the loss of his job, Asa reluctantly finds himself in the role of his brother's keeper. Alcoholism was at the root not only of the loss of the job but of the subsequent break with his...more
Philip Lane
I loved this though I can see it is not the most pleasant reading. It felt to me like a very humdrum realistic version of Kafka. Leventhall has a very ordinary life in New York but starts to feel things becoming too much as his wife has left for a few weeks, he is called on to help out with a sick nephew and an acquaintance starts to blame him for losing his job. It has happened to me when problems have cropped up in my private life and my professional life at the same time. It all starts gettin...more
What a crazy, weird book. I absolutely flew through this, because I'd been meaning to read it forever, and had started a while back and put it down, so I basically just caught the main plotlines and characters and missed a lot of the intricacies, though it seems a fairly simple book. But what an intriguing setup! Has that kind of Kafkaesque inevitability to it. But yeah, the protag/antag setup was just so interesting, nothing I've really read before. Totally a unique book, while also being just...more
This is only middling in comparison to Bellow's other works. There are fine ruminations here on what people owe to one another, but the story, brief as it is, plods, and Leventhal - bereft of the intellectual charm of Bellow's other protagonists - is not a particularly compelling man to follow, though his conscience at least makes him more sympathetic than we might expect of such an overwrought character. And Albee's run-ins with Leventhal, which mostly drive the story, tend to be variously taxi...more
Book 13/2010

I'm bored. I finished yesterday and I'm still bored. I didn't care the slightest bit about any of the characters. The dialogue was bad. The plot was nonexistant.

But then again, I feel socially awkward criticising both a Nobel Prize winner and a dead writer, so I shall stop. I didn't really have much to say except "I didn't give a damn".

One kinda-sorta-strong-point: I really wanna go to all those wicked, dark and filthy spots now. Can we say this book made me fall in love with NYC? Ye...more
Ronald Wise
Bellow's second novel, first published in 1947. An interesting story of Asa Leventhal, a Jewish man in New York City, dealing with negative stereotypes that surface in his brother's marriage to an Italian woman, and the appearance of a former acquaintance who blames his ruin on Asa and a Jewish conspiracy. Bellow is very adept at describing how stress and self-doubts can translate into rather distasteful outward behavior. Some of the scenes from this book were eerily reminiscent of some past roo...more
Dexter Hartunian
Read this for one of my English classes. I found it funnier than most the class. The two main characters reminded me of Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey in the film Due Date. While most people found Kirby creepy, I found him amusingly awkward. I had to write a little essay about it, and I mostly focused on the business themes I found in the story, such as networking. Also, there was a lot of material in here about the advantages of being an extrovert and how that was becoming more valued than...more
Paul Lizarraga
A great introduction to Bellows and pretty impressive early novel. The story is intriguing right away yet the ending doesn't live up to suspenseful build up which makes up the majority of the novel. The plot revolves around the character of Asa Leventhal who is being followed by the unusual alcoholic character of Albee. Bellows description of the backdrop, 1940's summer in New York, helps to set the mood of tension to the story. The sudden abruptness to the story hints of bellow's commitment to...more
Não tem tanto insight quanto o Bellow mais típico, mas é muito bom. O que também é atípico é o cenário - Nova York, ao invés de Chicago. E tem o gosto bom das reminiscências da segunda geração dos imigrantes, com seus casamentos entrecruzados, de italianos e judeus.

De resto, gira em torno do anti-semitismo invejoso que marca alguns goys, e do orgulho não-declarado, disfarçado e menosprezado, de alguns judeus. Peca um pouco no final, com uma espécie de "...anos depois..." - mas nem isso fica muit...more
Oct 21, 2007 daniel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: your grandfather.
Shelves: fiction
i'm not sure what to say about this one. for one thing, it's utterly boring. yet it's penetrating and deep as well. after fifty pages i was ready to cast it aside, but bellow is a fantastic writer and he paints his protagonist with such human strokes that i felt compelled to see him through.
in the end, though, the character and his context are of such a different era from my own that i found it difficult to sympathize with him. or resent him, for that matter. and one or the other (or both) was...more
I had to force myself to finish this book, mostly because the main character, Asa Leventhal, really annoyed me. He's a Jew working for a trade magazine in New York and happily married, when suddenly a man he knew slightly years ago appears and accuses Asa of ruining his life. This book combines two of my least favorite tropes: someone forcing themself into another person's life; and the person who feels like everyone around him judges and criticizes him when he himself is very judgmental and cri...more
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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...more
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