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Victim (Penguin Modern Classics)

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0141188836
ISBN-10: 0141188839
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Saul Bellow's dazzling career has been marked with numerous literary prizes, including the 1976 Nobel Prize, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. His work includes Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, Mr Sammler's Planet, Seize The Day and the essay To Jerusalem and Back. He died in 2005.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188836
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,403,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. E. Whitlock on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the story of Asa Leventhal, a magazine editor living alone one summer in 1940s New York while his wife is away taking care of her widowed mother. One night he is accosted in a park by Kirby Allbee, a slight acquaintance whom he has not seen for several years. The anti-Semitic Allbee has visibly come down in the world, and holds Leventhal responsible.

A parallel plot concerns Leventhal's sister-in-law who is alone in Brooklyn with her two sons. While Leventhal's brother pursues business interests in Texas, Leventhal attempts to act as a surrogate father.

This is a book about responsibility, community, maturity and Jewish/Christian relations in America. We see Leventhal transformed from an insecure, self-absorbed, blame-shifting individual, to a self-confident and compassionate man of action. There are some deft touches of humor, and the evolving relationship between Allbee and Leventhal is complex and fascinating.

I strongly recommend this book.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Saul Bellow's novel, The Victim, first got under my skin about fifteen years ago. It is not an easy book to read, but not because it isn't well written or well conceived. The style of writing here is very clean, particularly in comparison to later works by this same author, and the plot is both very simple and very tight, maybe too tight for readers who prefer to luxuriate in a more leisurely unfolding of events. It seems to me that what makes the novel somewhat difficult is Bellow's nearly claustrophobic presentation of Asa Leventhal's character and dilemma. He places his reader so close to his main character that at times the proximity becomes unbearable. But this is what makes The Victim such a compelling read. I can think of no modern American novel I would recommend more highly than this one.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J.E.Robinson on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am a Bellow fan and have read most of his novels.

Saul Bellow wrote two manuscripts in the early 1940s. One was so bad that he threw it out. The second was "Dangling Man" is probably his worst novel, or tied with "The Actual," but there are some good passages. However, in 1944, he got good book reviews from his first book, and more importantly the publisher liked the book, and it was enough to go on to another book. The present book is of course his second novel. It is slow in the first half back picks up steam as the story unfolds, and by the end is a good novel. It does not have the charm of the later works, but still it is good. It is not as famous as the later works such as "Herzog" but it is a solid well written effort and mostly entertaining.

In case you are new to Bellow, his novels reflect his life, his writings, and his five marriages during his five active decades of writing. He hit his peak as a writer around the time of "Augie March" in 1953 and continued through to the Pulitzer novel "Humbolt's Gift" in 1973. He wrote from the early 1940s through to 2000. His novels are written in a narrative form, and the main character is a Jewish male, usually a writer but not always, and he is living in either in New York or Chicago. Bellow wrote approximately 13 novels plus other works. Bellow progressed a long way as a writer over the five decades.

The early novels "Dangling Man" and "The Victim" were written 25 years before his peak. Those were heavy slow reads. "Dangling Man" is often boring, and Bellow was in search of his writing style in that period of the 1940s. Some compare his style in "Dangling Man" with Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By asphlex on April 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Surely this is not Bellow's best work, but it's deeply affecting nonetheless. Okay, I'll admit it: I'm an enormous fan of Mr. Bellow's and had this been written by another writer I was less familiar with, I perhaps would have gone the three star route (three and a half--but that isn't an option, so Saul gets rounded up), but there is still a lot to admire here. The prose is gorgeous and, while the story sometimes falls off track, anyone reading should be able to identify with one of the two main characters (or, in my own case, with both of them at different times). It deals with the struggles of the modern world and blaming your own mistakes and misfortune on others to keep up the thin stirrings of hope and an optimistic idea of the future. There is also a lot to say about conformity in a modern world (regardless of the 1947 date of publication, the focus on these elements seems to have become 'modern day timeless', lasting forever as the days and seasons change), and how we are dehumanized by the swift pace and grubbing filth and greed of inhuman business, automated people shuttling to and from whereever it is they for some reason need to be. The way these themes are expressed humanizes this sort of fear and explains the way many people feel as their lives settle down and the sky darkens, with an ominous future of nothing left to look forward to. Now if only Asa weren't so irritating (and believe me--I perfectly love unlikable protagonists, but this guy is kind of grating at times and you often find yourself wishing his nightmare could get worse and worse and worse and worse . . .)
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