30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Humboldt's Gift (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) (Paperback)
I think this is Bellow's materwork. An author who has always searched for evidence of the human soul in contemporary society, the questions Bellow raised in each of the novels leading to this point (Herzog particularly), finally find a resolution in this book, his last novel before winning the Nobel Prize.
This is a story of Charlie Citrine, a sucessful author who finds himself struggling for meaning while confronting the ghosts of memory, particularly in the relationship with his friend, mentor; and, at many points, antagonist, Von Humboldt Fletcher. Curiously, the novel is thrown into action and suspense through Citrine's dealings with a minor gangster, Cantible. The relationship, though, turns out to be one that brings Citrine back to the "here and now." Just as he is on the brink of being lost in transcendental wanderings, Citrine is snapped back to his resposibility by Cantible.
And, from such an unlikely source, the novel begins its reach towards resolution: to be fully human, Citrine must be spiritual but remain part of the world. Meaning and true spirituality come through compassion, empathy, caring. Once Citrine and the reader discover this, the novel reaches a resolution that marked the end of an era in many of Bellow's themes. This novel is simply a must for anyone who has enjoyed any of Bellow's earlier works, as well as for anyone who, like Chalie Citrine, struggle to find a place for the soul, the human spirit, in a world that seems to have forgotten such a thing may exist.
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Initial post: Mar 8, 2011 9:45:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 8, 2011 9:52:10 AM PST
My God, a reviewer that really 'gets' Humbolt. Your last paragraph is exceptional in its terse description of Bellow's purpose in writing Humbolt. Many thanks.
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