David Lentz's Reviews > Humboldt's Gift

Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
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's review
Jun 11, 2011

it was amazing

Transcendental. Profound. Scholarly. Challenging. Invigorating. Agile. A literary treasure. Citrine lives and breathes with the perspective of a real writer surging against great existential issues like Walt Whitman's ultimate question. Humboldt is brilliant, pitiful, hilarious and, ultimately, victorious from the grave. The gangster, Cantabile, is Citrine's cosmic foil: the Dionysius of Nietzsche to Citrine's Apollo. This is potentially a life-altering work: it can change your outlook on life and death. Bellow redeems late 20th century American literature with writing so rich it has bestowed upon him a mantle of immortality. He will be long remembered as one of America's most brilliant 20th century writers. This novel confirms Bellow's consistent gift for writing as evidenced by his prolific virtuosity in Herzog, The Adventures of Augie March and Henderson the Rain King. What a masterful literary legacy Bellow has left us! Bag the NY Times Best Seller List and Oprah's mind numbing, witless wonders and read Bellow. Hardly anything this substantive is likely to be created hereafter.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 11, 2011 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Rayroy What truely puzzles me is the so few people my age have heard of Saul Bellow, let alone read anything that isn't a graphic novel or the Hunger Games, a book with zombies or vampires or both

Rayroy that*

David Lentz Dear Con,
Please don't get me started on this subject: I could launch into a blue-in-the-face tirade which lasts for days on the virtues of your insight. It is utterly bewildering and equally futile to attempt to guide lovers of best sellers into authentically great literature. Believe me, I have tried both as a reader and an author. It is an endeavor which ends only in heartbreak for a true lover of literary novels to see so many worthy books go unread for lesser works. If you want to give it a go, Con, I want to wish you all of the luck in the world.

Rayroy I think with smart phones,instant gratification,that today's reader is less disciplined, less likely to read books that require that the reader reads free of distraction, in a room alone, today's books are wrote so you can multitask while reading them, the sentences are short and easy to understand, the pages fewer and the type much larger, thing is I think we are mulitasking ourselves towards death.

message 5: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith As familiar as this conversation remains, I find spirit in such: thank you both.

Sternej Rayroy. 'One the money' comment. Great books have become like Jazz, great works out there but nothing that's on the NYT bestseller list. Those are books as entertainment, which has it's place, but it's like comparing Taylor Swift to John Coltrane. I wonder where literature is going in the future.

message 7: by Lizzy (new)

Lizzy I have many of Bellow's books on my wish list, David, but there is always for me to read first. Your great review made me want to start right away, although I don't know where I will begin. Thanks for reminding me. L.

message 8: by Jan (new) - added it

Jan Absolutely wonderful review; I also truly enjoy and appreciate Bellow

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