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Mr. Sammler's Planet (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 6, 2004
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About the Author
His first two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day (1956); Henderson the Rain King (1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970); Humboldt's Gift (1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December (1982); More Die of Heartbreak (1987); Theft (1988); The Bellarosa Connection (1989);The Actual (1996); Ravelstein (2000); and, most recently, Collected Stories(2001). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up, a collection of memoirs and essays.
Bellow's many awards include the International Literary Prize for Herzog, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."
Stanley Crouch’s books include Notes of a Hanging Judge, The All-American Skin Game (Nominated for the National Book Award), and a novel, Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome. He has received the Whiting Writer’s Award and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award.
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Top Customer Reviews
The narrative is simple: a close third person point of view brings us inside Mr. Sammler's head as he interprets and analyzes the events in his life: his dying nephew, a pick pocket who assualts him, greedy relatives, a missing manuscript, and his Holocaust experience. There are long philosophic digressions, sometimes humorous, sometimes didactic, that can frustrate, confuse, and enlighten the reader, all within the space of a single paragraph. This density of thought is one of the supreme challenges of Bellow, but as an ardent fan (who only "gets" a mere fraction of what he's talking about), the payoff is exponentially greater than the effort I put in. The only narrative flaw I find is in the dialogue between Sammler and Dr. Lal. It's structured in a Platonic form--reminiscent of the final chapter in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man--and the section seems forced and stilted compared to the rest of the novel.
Bellow's prose is as strong as ever. We return to New York City in the late 1960s, much filthier and more violent than the setting of Seize the Day.Read more ›
Bellow achieves the perfect balance of interior monologue and narrative in Sammler, in which we see the world through the eyes of the erudite elderly man, who, though constrained by his own reserved demeanor, sees the world with his eyes, his mind, and his heart. At a loss, often, to express himself, Sammler filters the world through his intellect. And yet, the truths he knows are intuitive, and he realizes that value in life is found through making and acknowledging the human connection and bond, and living up to the spiritual and moral truths of the "human contract." This is a book about how important it is to love, to connect with other frail, imperfect, crazy humans, how to come to terms with the messiness of life, and make peace with the contradictions between intellect and religion/spirituality.
Living in New York on the charity of relatives, Sammler struggles, and succeeds in, maintaining his dignity in spite of the seemingly depraved surroundings of the city and in spite of his precarious financial and physical conditions. Observing the world around him, Sammler poses many questions about the values that drive us, noting poignantly that bragging about one's vices has become virtue, and that honor, "virtuous impulses," have somehow become shameful.
Yet, the book also has an engaging plot, one that serves the message of the book, and Sammler's many family relationships are amusing and touching at once.Read more ›
There are many ways to read Mr. Sammler's Planet, and though it probably detracts from gaining some of the meaning of the work, I choose to read it as part historical document and part philosophical treatise. As a document of the 1960's and 70's, it is a lamentation by Bellow at seeing an environment of what he considers adolescent intellectual arrogance blossom up all around New York coupled with a hedonistic sexual revolution which, though not necessarily condemnable is certainly not commendable. Sammler's New York is a mad house of crime, vice, and utter-ridiculousness. For him, one who saw society fall apart at the seems with disastrous consequences for his life--Bellow's narrative reveals very early on that Sammler should in all actuality be dead--New York is very close to being a modernized Sodom or Gomorrah, but a long ways away from having fire and brimstone rained down upon it. It is only redeemed by being almost stupidly infantile.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970) was fairly interesting until about a quarter of the way to the end when Saul Bellow puts a tranquilizer dart into the plot with an extended... Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Buzalka
Despite being well written, Saul Bellow just doesn't do it for me. I find his books very boring, but hey he's not award winning for no reasonPublished 9 months ago
I originally read this in 1970 while in college. I especially liked Mr. Sammler's (Saul Bellow's) observation on life in NYC at a time when it was all falling apart around them. Read morePublished 16 months ago by James Wolfe
A tedious novel without plot nor caracters, full of appaling dialogue, naive pseudo-philosofical mumbo-jumbo and stupid generalizations on the Woman, the Black People, the Space... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Nosferatu
This book vastly lowered my estimation of Saul Bellow, which was based primarily on the quality of the novella, Seize the Day. Like Seize the Day, Mr. Read morePublished 18 months ago by JMH
To some people, experience seemed wealth. He never wanted such riches.
Mr.Sammler is a cultured, civilized, preoccupied septuagenarian in New York in the 1960s. Read more
I read Augie March and Mr. Sammler's Planet...these works are very life affirming, beautiful works. I cannot wait to read more of Bellow's works.Published on January 27, 2014 by Todd Edwards
Arthur Sammler, an intellectual Polish Jew, friend of HG Wells and survivor of the holocaust, lives in New York, a patriarchal figure to his nephews and nieces and wayward daughter... Read morePublished on December 16, 2013 by An admirer of Saul