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Humboldt's Gift

Humboldt s Gift For many years the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and Charlie Citrine a young man inflamed with a love for literature were the best of friends At the time of his death however Humboldt is a fai

  • Title: Humboldt's Gift
  • Author: Saul Bellow
  • ISBN: 9780141188768
  • Page: 173
  • Format: Paperback
  • For many years, the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and Charlie Citrine, a young man inflamed with a love for literature, were the best of friends At the time of his death, however, Humboldt is a failure, and Charlie s life has reached a low point his career is at a standstill, and he s enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce, infatuated with a highly unsuitable young womanFor many years, the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and Charlie Citrine, a young man inflamed with a love for literature, were the best of friends At the time of his death, however, Humboldt is a failure, and Charlie s life has reached a low point his career is at a standstill, and he s enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce, infatuated with a highly unsuitable young woman and involved with a neurotic mafioso And then Humboldt acts from beyond the grave, bestowing upon Charlie an unexpected legacy that may just help him turn his life around.

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      Published :2018-09-24T13:17:09+00:00

    1 thought on “Humboldt's Gift

    1. "Wrestling match between Vita Contemplativa and Vita Activa" Let’s be honest! Humboldt’s Gift is exhausting. It is a masterpiece, a brilliant study of a man fighting the world and his inner demons by withdrawing from active participation, but it leaves the reader frequently frustrated with the narrator, Charles Citrine, and his non-response to the problems he causes by contemplating life rather than living it actively. Using a similar idea to the one explored in Dangling Man, it goes further [...]

    2. I'm going to rave a little here. Do forgive me in advance. This is my second reading of this masterpiece. It was shortly after publication of Humboldt's Gift that Bellow won the Nobel Prize. That in itself usually doesn't mean much, mostly the literature awards are given out for political reasons these days, but I think in the case of Bellow Oslo got it right. From the start the storytelling is brilliant and it never flags. Charlie Citrine, a young man filled with a love of literature, writes to [...]

    3. Humboldt is a poet, once revered, eventually ridiculed; Charlie Citrine, the narrator, was his acolyte, friend and enemy. Citrine, of an inferior talent, enjoys much greater commercial success than Humboldt. This anomaly is the foundation for much soul searching about the relationship between the artist and commercial success in America. Humboldt fulfils society’s most cherished expectation of the poet – he goes nuts and dies ignominiously. In other words, he’s too delicate for this world. [...]

    4. In today's reality, if anybody wishes to taste life in America through the late thirties till the early seventies; the turbulent days and the scintillating nights associated with it; the glint and the glamour, the mirth and murder, affluence and privation going hand in gloves, I would recommend Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow. Told in the first person narrative choice, this mammoth novel is mostly a chronology of the author's reminiscences, some of which are dramatically hectic, painfully poignan [...]

    5. The labyrinthine mental processes of an exceptional man of letters-- challenging, uneven, extremely self conscious & in the end, of course, literary."I have snoozed through many a crisis (while millions died)" laments our Hero. Our overthinking, overcompensating, overwhelming hero. He's a regular Danish prince-- indeed most of his life is seen through a Shakespearean filter that has more to do with complications than tragedy or romance.There are amazing sentences and a wholly exuberant prose [...]

    6. Last night I dreamt that Saul Bellow was still alive, and that I met him. (Met him at the Chicago branch of something called the Hitler-Piedmont Bank--I know, I know, it was a dream, so it had to be a little fucked up.) I started to gush, but of all the phrases, characters and scenes of his that I admire, the only thing I praised was his description, in this novel, of Humboldt's mud-bespattered station wagon as looking like "a Flanders staff-car."

    7. Roman a Clef a Trois“Humboldt’s Gift” is generally recognised to be a roman a clef, in which the titular character is based on the poet Delmore Schwartz, an early friend and mentor of Saul Bellow.However, there are three levels at which the roman a clef operates within the novel itself.Firstly, Von Humboldt Fleisher accuses the narrator, Charlie Citrine, of using his life as the inspiration for his commercially successful play, “Von Trenck” (which was later turned into a film):“I don [...]

    8. I don't know what it is, but Bellow's books just go down easy for me. I can (and have) read them in one or two or five very long sittings, enjoying myself enough to just refuse to take my eyes off the page. There's something about his protagonists- the nervy, learned, spunky, earthy, thoughtful and hyper-attentive 30-40 year old males which seems to resonate with me over and over again. I seriously thought about making a special category on my bookshelves for "old-drunk-wannabe-writer" books (an [...]

    9. 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 a [...]

    10. It's interesting how passionate I get when I dislike a book. Maybe I feel ripped off? My expectations were high and that no doubt plays into it.The setup is interesting and has great potential. A man is on a quest to make sense of his life in a world that's lost its way. The theme: Culture, the arts, advanced learning and thinking, (the only raisons-d'être for man's existence don't you know) are being quashed by modern society and its trappings. From the get-go, there are quotes or mention of z [...]

    11. Un romanzo come "Il dono di Humboldt" è difficile da riassumere perché non ha una vera e propria trama. Necessita di tempo per essere assimilato, capito e vissuto.E' un lungo stream of consciousness, un flusso di coscienza di pensieri, di sensazioni, sentimenti e poesia. E' un lungo e denso monologo interiore, in cui i dialoghi sono brevi o quasi del tutto inesistenti.E' un compendio di rapporti umani, di bellezza, di poesia, di letteratura, quella vera, pura e salvifica. E' l'arte che si fa c [...]

    12. This is the first Bellow I have read and I enjoyed the experience. It concerns Charlie Citrine, a chap in his 50s, a writer and intellectual who has an ongoing divorce, an unpredictable girlfriend, an acquaintance in the mob who decides he quite likes Charlie, various bloodsucking lawyers, friends who want money for hare-brained schemes and his relationship with his old mentor (now dead), the poet Von Humboldt Fleischer. It is an erudite book with lots of ideas in play and Bellow has great fun w [...]

    13. (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called literary "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay #38: Humboldt's Gift (1975), by Saul BellowThe story in a nutshell:In good Postmodernist fashion, Saul Bellow's 1975 Humboldt's Gift is a semi-autobiograp [...]

    14. Il tuo successo è sempre il successo del denaroCi ho messo un po' a mettere insieme tutti i pezzi, dopo la lettura di questo romanzo certamente interessante ma tutt'altro che semplice.Tanti personaggi turbinano per seicento pagine nel flusso di pensieri solo in apparenza sconnessi di Charlie Citrine, uomo di lettere e commediografo di successo. Tanti episodi interessanti, tanti aneddoti divertenti, tante trovate geniali, tanti ricordi, moltissime profonde riflessioni. Ma ad una prima impression [...]

    15. è andata così. stavo lì a trastullarmi incurante di ogni tassonomia delle priorità narrative, indulgendo a prescindibili libri e lasciando la mia frequentazione di bellow ferma a un datato, piacevole ma non risolutivo augie march e a un recente, quello sì fulminante, herzog. finché un bel giorno il dio delle letture con qualche costrutto, titillato da un torneo virtuale tra romanzi ammmericani, ha deciso di fare di me una donna onesta. e scagliando quaggiù una saetta (ZOT!) ha messo in te [...]

    16. There is not much need for me to review this book, as it is well known, and as I already wrote substantial reviews of Herzog and Sammler's. As a young man, when I read this, I adored it (5-stars); this time, I saw also its flaws (4-stars).All the threads of Herzog, Seize the Day, and Sammler come together here in near perfection 'near'. A picaresque comedy, Charlie Citrine is throroughly modern, and romps through the latter part of the 20th century, trying valiently like Harry Houdini ( -- Harry [...]

    17. Un'onda che tutto travolge. Impetuosa, ruggente, una tragica e comica nona sinfonia di Beethoven trascritta in forma di romanzoyoutube/watch?v=tpGSz[stringo con forza questo cordone ombelicale, e ti ringrazio] I voli pindarici di Citrine sono i Miei voli pindarici)i suoi castelli di carta sono i Miei castelli)il suo rimorso per non avere avuto il coraggio di attraversare la strada e incontrare Von Humboldt Fleisher è il Mio rimorso per non aver trovato quel coraggio)Ci parla a tutti noi Bellow, [...]

    18. When Charlie Citrine’s, lover Renata said “When you get to the story let me know, I’m not big on philosophy,” she hit the bullseye. I have never before read a more pretentious glob of self-indulgent philosophizing, high-brow name-dropping, and conceited intellectualism. You realize a novel isn’t working when you catch yourself frequently checking how many pages remain. I kept at it only out of respect for Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, as the author of the master [...]

    19. Ogni testa è un tribunaleCharles Citrine è una figura emblematica di un sacco di cose: intellettuale statunitense, ebreo russo di origine (Tzitrin), brav’uomo spolpato dall’ex-moglie, preda degli avvocati, amante appassionato ma superficiale di donna giovane e bella. La lettura del libro mi ha suggerito il detto: “ogni testa è un tribunale” e quella di Citrine soprattutto, perché per tutto il libro ragiona sull’estetica, la filosofia steineriana, sui suoi rapporti con le donne, con [...]

    20. This novel is divided into sections of uneven length, each section probably best described as a chapter, unnumbered. The narrative is in the first person, told by the writer Charlie Citrine, the erstwhile friend and protégé of Von Humboldt Fleisher, a poet whose greatest fame occurred in the Thirties, after which the friendship shattered as Humboldt’s reputation declined and Charlie’s rose. The syntax, at the beginning, is simple declarative sentences, but it becomes far more florid during [...]

    21. I keep getting drawn back to Saul Bellow’s novels like a crazy-ass bee to a barren flower. I must love the disappointment, the confusion, the frustration. I’m a literature masochist. Bellow sees my eagerness, my dog-like enthusiasm, beckons me in closerd then smacks me on the nose. His novels are never truly satisfying; they almost enrage me. How could a man be so talented, such a great writer, and yet churn out such flawed books? In truth, I don’t know how to review Humbodt’s Gift. It d [...]

    22. I mostly loved this novel, but there were spots of tedium here and there. The novel starts out a bit slow-to-read, but as it gets into the action of the plot, the pace picks up. The story takes place over a short span of time, but the narrator Charlie Citrine frequently recollects his past, giving temporal depth to the story. The subject of much of his remembrance is his former mentor, Humboldt Fleisher, now deceased. Their relationship was rocky, ended badly, and Charlie seems to be working thr [...]

    23. I realize that most of the online reviews for this book are raves and so my 2 star review is abberant, however if I am honest that rating is higher than I actually want to give. I am at a loss for reviewing it, but will give it a shot.1. I have been a reader my entire life and have multiple degrees and yet this book made me feel stupid. Mr Bellow wrote this with so many odd mechanisms and intentionally poor grammar. Not using commas throughout the book where words were written in list form drove [...]

    24. When the idealism and pragmatism collide those are the ideals that get shattered.“In The Ark we were going to publish brilliant things. Where were we to find such brilliancy? We knew it must be there. It was an insult to a civilized nation and to humankind to assume that it was not. Everything possible must be done to restore the credit and authority of art, the seriousness of thought, the integrity of culture, the dignity of style.”It is better to be rich and healthy maintains the pragmatic [...]

    25. I almost gave up on this book because it was so annoying and I found no pleasure or interest whatsoever in any part of it including any of the characters, but I finished it for my brother. I guesss I'm glad I did, so that I can add it to my list and write a review having known that I did read the whole book and didn't miss anything in the last half that would change my opinion of the book. I didn't learn anything and was confused at times. This book was just not for me.

    26. What a shallow author. He longs for a world that never was and is a wanna be for the ways things aren't. The story is decent enough but the author really wrote the book to muse philosophically on the nature of life and to offer philosophical insights on the nature of mortality and offer a refutation to the Myth of Sisyphus. This is where he fails miserably. A good author should be able to dazzle you with his wit while baffling you with his bullshit. This author (or his characters) are incredibly [...]

    27. "There are two graves left.You wouldn't want to buy mine, would you? I'm not going to lie around. I'm having myself cremated. I need action. I'd rather go into the atmosphere. Look for me in the weather reports.""Moreover I was convinced that there was nothing in the material world to account for the more delicate desires and perceptions of human beings.I met to write a full review but too much time has past to write a good one, this is just a book about an author that fears culture and arts are [...]

    28. I enjoyed the first half of this book. Then it slowed down. And then it felt like a different story: a few hundred pages of any ol' thing, issues repeatedly discussed by the angst-ridden narrator (the appearance of a diaphragm peaking out of a woman's luggage, for example) and then finally we are treated to the explanation of the title. Tighter editing would have helped, and did we really need lines like, "In my private vocabulary she was a little 'nole me tangerine'"? Lots of intellectual refer [...]

    29. The country is proud of its dead poets. It takes terrific satisfaction in the poets’ testimony that the USA is too tough, too big, too much, too rugged, that American reality is overpowering. And to be a poet is a school thing, a skirt thing, a church thing. The weakness of the spiritual powers is proved in the childishness, madness, drunkenness, and despair of these martyrs. Orpheus moved stones and trees. But a poet can’t perform a hysterectomy or send a vehicle out of the solar system. Mi [...]

    30. This was a fascinating typical Bellow novel about a self-centered neurotic middle-aged male from Chicago. I felt it was less satisfying than Herzog or Augie March despite moments or brilliance. I know it is considered one of the Great Novels of Bellow amd I enjoyed the characters and their existential questioning of the meanings of life and sex, but I found the narrative less compelling that the aforementioned classics by this spectacular author.

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