Saul Bellow: Humboldt's Gift

(603 words)

Humboldt’s Gift (1975) represents a distinct change in tone and focus from Mr. Sammler’s Planet which preceded it. It is a comic novel that portrays the spiritual plight of Charlie Citrine, a Chicagoan with a taste for low pursuits, gangland excitement, pneumatic young women, and a poetic gift he has almost lost. This “Chicago condition”, which has destroyed his poet friend, Humboldt, engages Charlie in the same kind of dialectal contest fought by Joseph and Tu As Raison Aussi in Dangling Man; or, Tommy and Tamkin in Seize the Day, or Henderson and the lioness in Henderson the Rain King, and by Herzog and the modern philosophers in Herzog. On the surface it is a …

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Cronin, Gloria. "Humboldt's Gift". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2003
[, accessed 03 July 2015.]

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  1. Jewish American Writing