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More Die of Heartbreak (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437742
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Saul Bellow, the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and short stories, including The Adventures of Augie March and Humboldt’s Gift.

Martin Amis is a bestselling author whose many works include Time’s Arrow, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and, most recently, Yellow Dog.

Customer Reviews

The first half is slow, but then the pace intensifies in the second half.
J. Robinson
Benn Crader, a botanist, and his nephew Kenneth, another academic, struggle to reconcile intellectual achievement with unsatisfactory love and marital lives.
reader 451
First timers may not get the full kick out of this great book or want to re read after taking in the complex and wonderful plot.
An admirer of Saul

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By a reader on January 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This isn't the one to choose if you've never read Bellow. Seize the Day (think brevity) is the place to start. From there, Henderson the Rain King, Humboldt's Gift, or Herzog make the best long reads. Augie March is the most renowned, but a good 200 pages too long if you ask me. After that, Mr. Sammler's Planet rounds out the best of Bellow. Dangling Man and The Victim are quite different from the rest, and are most interesting (I think) as points of reference to watch the evolution of a great mind.

More Die of Heartbreak ranks with The Dean's December and Ravelston as books to read only if you've already fallen for Bellow. Or, I suppose, if you're interested in reading what a Nobel Laureate thinks about sex. (For there is no book in which he tackles the topic more directly than this). There are times when the author seems to lose even himself in the mad confusion that spills from Ken Trachtenberg's head. This, I believe, would be enough to drive impatient readers away from Bellow.

But More Die of Heartbreak, like all of Bellow's work, lifts the reader above the mundane. Its force doesn't come from plot, but observation. His gift is to take the ordinary, the accepted, and acceptable and expose it for something extraordianry, corrupt, or even contemptible. His success, I think, comes from a steadfast and good-natured optimism in the face of Western decline.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By An admirer of Saul on November 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A comedy on modern life and love with a plot that allows Bellow to explore his favourite themes on the role of higher culture in a world that worships the base;are we what we see or how we see the world?
It helps to know the plot a little beforehand,I re read after my first reading to fully re enjoy.
Ken is a Woody Allen type;the one when you're never sure if he's neurotic or the world around him is.He idolises his Uncle Benn,a genius in the world of fauna but a hopeless innocent outside it. Ken sees it as his role to protect his Uncle. Benn was cheated out of millions in a real estate deal by his Uncle Vilitzer, a powerful political figure,something that doesn't interest Benn until he marries in haste (without consulting Ken) into the grasping Layamon family who urge Benn to get his share as Vilitzer is on the way down in the political game.
Bear the above in mind and you'll enjoy this first rate tragi-comedy.
'More die...' is perhaps more for veteran Bellow readers-at times you feel the editor should have pointed out to Bellow that the rest of us are 10 leagues below his intellect and he might be getting a bit esoteric, but one of the things I've always loved about books by Saul Bellow is the way he makes you thirst to know what he knows;read what he's read.First timers may not get the full kick out of this great book or want to re read after taking in the complex and wonderful plot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 on June 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
'He wanted a statement about the radiation level increasing. Also dioxin and other harmful waste. It's terribly serious, of course, but I think more people die of heartbreak than of radiation.' Such is the premise of Saul Bellow's masterpiece, written at the probable height of his creative power and on a par with Herzog and The Dean's December.

In a refined and richly substantiated extemporisation, Bellow takes a sounding of the place of romance in contemporary life and makes the case that it remains of central if problematic concern. More Die of Heartbreak remains hugely current, and relevant. Modern fears and distractions continue to lay siege to the arguably paramount realms of sentimental and private fulfilment. Our world is even more so one of technicians and specialists, isolated in mutually inaccessible spheres. For this is what Bellow portrays: the difficulty of love when surrounded with the complexities of professional specialisation, money, sex, cultural doubt, moral and social flux. Also just the difficulty of love.

Benn Crader, a botanist, and his nephew Kenneth, another academic, struggle to reconcile intellectual achievement with unsatisfactory love and marital lives. The uncle marries the glamorous social climber Matilda Layamon in a second wedding, to find himself forced into a financial suit that will destroy his ties to his own family. Kenneth strives to fill the gap left by a painful break-up. Nothing much more happens in this ironic, rambling portrayal of floundering individuals who philosophise as they go. And to be fair, this is not for fans of action or quick-paced plots. But if you like reading Kundera or Philip Roth (who is a later writer and seems to me to owe much to Bellow), you will enjoy this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on March 24, 2015
Format: Paperback
'Genius though he might be in the vegetable kingdom, his high-level seriousness could be harrowing.'
This is the narrator's opinion about his uncle, a scientific grande in the botany field. To explain the book title: the uncle once answered a journalist's question about environmental issues with this quip: more people die of heartbreak than of radiation.

The nephew himself is an assistant professor of Russian Literature at the same Midwestern university as the uncle. The nephew's main job is looking after uncle. He has his own skeptical views about the modern world. The essence of the individual is depression. When you are down, you call a number, that will talk you out of suicide, or pray with you, or talk you into a sexual climax. The number can be found all over the public space.

Is this a novel of ideas? Well, lots of those are mentioned, but it is really a novel about sex. How do we manage our needs in the light of our options, and specifically in view of this damned aging process. Uncle is actually quite the ladies' man. Many of his abrupt overseas research trips turn out to be escape trips. He is running from this or that woman's possessiveness. Women do that to him. They threaten to acquire him.

Now uncle has been acquired. He marries a daughter of wealthy people, which draws him into all kinds of financial schemes. Uncle isn't used to think in those terms.
The in-laws are not much older than uncle. Nephew compares this marriage to Churchill's joke about the empire: acquired in a fit of absent-mindedness. However, nephew doesn't buy this concept. 'The secret motive of the absentminded is to be innocent while guilty'.
And this is why I like reading Bellow, despite all the BS that he flashes past us. Among the waste, there are quite a few gems.
Let me close with this one for today: '...it would be against my rule of truthfulness to conceal the fact that I am fond of preposterous people.'
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More About the Author

Saul Bellow won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel HUMBOLDT'S GIFT in 1975, and in 1976 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 'for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.' He is the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, for THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, HERZOG, and MR. SAMMLER'S PLANET

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