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Henderson the Rain King ()


Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (21)

Eugene Henderson wants. In fact, a voice inside him keeps saying: I want, I want. But what's left to want when you're a blue-blooded American millionaire?  He wants more out of life and to escape death. So for some reason he goes off to Africa & finds a guide, Rimilayu, who takes him to two tribes; the Arnewi, who are plagued by frogs, & the Wariri, where he is befriended by King Dahfu.
In the allegedly "madcap & zany" adventures that follow Henderson learns about life & himself.

What he learned escapes me. I honestly didn't understand the point of this whole exercise. It mystifies me that this is considered a great book. I have read other Bellow stuff, like Seize the Day (1956) & Dangling Man (1944), and  while I didn't love them, I at least understood what he was trying to do.

There's a moment in Sophie's Choice when Stingo, Styron's alter ego, reads Dangling Man and has an epiphany where he realizes that the coming decades will be the domain of the Jewish novelist.  Sure enough, Bellow won the 1976 Nobel Prize Winner, placed two books on this list and has won three National Book Awards, but I have no idea why.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (D)

  

Websites:

Saul Bellow Links:

    Author Saul Bellow Dies at 89 (MEL GUSSOW and CHARLES McGRATH, 4/05/05, NY Times)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Saul Bellow (NY Times)
    -OBIT: Author Depicted Men's Spiritual Crises (Jon Thurber and Mary Rourke, April 6, 2005, LA Times)
    -OBIT: Author Saul Bellow dies at 89 (HENRY KISOR, April 6, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -OBIT: Saul Bellow, novelist who charted ironies of modern soul, dies at 89 (Gail Caldwell, April 6, 2005, Boston Globe)
    -OBIT: Saul Bellow chastised America for its own good: He was a prose master who could bring to life any environment with a realism not limited to the surfaces of life. (Roderick Nordell, 4/07/05, CS Monitor)
    -TRIBUTE: Saul (Leon Wieseltier, 04.14.05, National Review)
    -TRIBUTE: Big ideas and wandering fools: Saul Bellow (1915-2005): The great Chicago novelist created a unique imaginative universe that made sense of modern human experience of crisis and change, says Tom McBride. (Tom McBride, 7 - 4 - 2005, Open Democracy)
   -Saul Bellow (1915-) (kirjasto)
    -SHORT STORY: Mosby's Memoirs (Saul Bellow, 1968-07-20, The New Yorker)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR : Saul Bellow (NY Times Book Review)
    -AUTHOR PAGE : SAUL BELLOW (1915-) (The Guardian)
    -Saul Bellow Society and Journal
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of Ravelstein
    -ESSAY : Saul Bellow's Introduction to 'The Closing of the American Mind'
    -Choosing the Necessary:   Remarks by Saul Bellow to Padgett Powell's Graduate Class in Fiction Writing at the University of Florida,  Gainesville,  February 21, 1992
    -INTERVIEW : Saul Bellow seizes the day : A near-fatal dose of food poisoning has given Saul Bellow a new sense of urgency at 81. He talks to Desmond O'Grady about his latest novel (Electronic Telegraph)
    -INTERVIEW : The Full Bellow Treatment : At 84, novelist Saul Bellow has two new progeny: an infant daughter and a controversial novel. Friends say the new book is a paean to his friend Allan Bloom; foes say it's a malicious outing. (Sandra Martin, , April 29, 2000, Books Reporter)
    -INTERVIEW : Fathers and sons : Martin Amis discusses art, death and family relationships with his mentor and kindred spirit, Saul Bellow (Electronic Telegraph)
    -INTERVIEW : with Saul Bellow (Joanna Coles, September 10, 1997, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY : With Friends Like Saul Bellow : His support helped to make Allan Bloom a famous cultural conservative. But now that Bellow has written a roman á clef revealing that Bloom was gay (and possibly died from AIDS), his critics are crying betrayal. He fears they may be right. (D.T. MAX, April 2000, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY :   A Bellow Novel Eulogizes a Friendship (DINITIA SMITH, January 27, 2000, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : Bellow's betrayal blots his copybook : Nobel laureate forced to repent over the 'outing' of Thatcher's favourite author (Ed Vulliamy, and Vanessa Thorpe, April 23, 2000, The Observer)
    -PROFILE : The wordly mystic's late bloom : He is one of our greatest novelists and has a Nobel prize to prove it. Married five times, he describes himself as a serial husband. Now, at 84, after a near-fatal illness, he has produced a vibrant novel and a baby daughter. James Wood, April 15, 2000, The Guardian)
    -PAL: Perspectives in American Literature:  A Research and Reference Guide: "Chapter 10: Late Twentieth Century: 1945 to the Present - Saul Bellow (1915 - )"
    -Herzog: Essay Topics and Critical Commentary
   -MARTIN AMIS: Between the Influences of Bellow and Nabokov (Victoria N. Alexander, The Antioch Review Fall 1994)
    -Shame and Saul Bellow's "Something to Remember Me By" (Saul Bellow Journal)
    -ESSAY : Saul Bellow, Allan Bloom, and Abe Ravelstein (Robert Fulford, Globe and Mail, November 2, 1999)
    -ESSAY : Fictional characters and their real-life models (Sanford Pinsker, Special to N.J. Jewish News)
    -ESSAY : Poison Ivy (David L. Kirp, American Prospect)
    -ESSAY : Wrestling in the Halls of Academe (Michael Miner, Chicago Reader)
    -ESSAY : Death and the Men of Letters : Measuring Roth and Bellow by the Way They Handle the Final Question (MARK KRUPNICK, The Forward)
    -LINKS : Saul Bellow (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES : Allan Bloom (Upstream)
    -ARCHIVES : "Saul Bellow" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "Saul Bellow" (Mag Portal)
    -Mr. Bellow's Planet (from Commentary)
    -The Quest for the Self in Bellow's Henderson
    -Saul Bellow (from Nobel Prize Site)
    -INTERVIEW:  A CANDID TALK WITH SAUL BELLOW  (D.J.R. Bruckner, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY : The Great American Augie : Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976, but the great novel that set him on the course for the prize had been published 23 years earlier, in 1953. The peripatetic hero of The Adventures of Augie March spoke in an idiom entirely new to American literature--an astonishing mix of the high-flown and the low-down. (Christopher Hitchens , Wilson Quarterly)
    -ESSAY: Rereading Saul Bellow (Philip Roth, 2000-10-09, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: Finding Augie March: Saul Bellow’s first novels. (Joan Acocella, 2003-10-06, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY : So, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Cocteau walk into a bar ...  Unpredictable, startling and mysterious meetings (Robert Fulford, National Post)
    -ESSAY: Bellow at 85, Roth at 67 (Norman Podhoretz, Commentary)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Jonathan Wilson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein by Saul Bellow (complete review)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Barton Wong, Spintech)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein by Saul Bellow (Floyd Skloot, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Louis Menand, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein ( J. Bottum, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Saul Bellow's Ravelstein (J. Bottum, The Crisis)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Christopher Hitchens, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein  (Lorin Stein, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (George Walden, This is London)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (James Wood,  April 15, 2000, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Gary Giddins, Village Voice)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Mark Greif, American Prospect)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (The American Enterprise, Leon Aron)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (John Mullan, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Zachary Leader, Independent uk )
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (John Leonard, The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Stephen Mitchelmore, Spike)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (PAUL GRAY, TIME)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Chris Wood, Richmond Review)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (JOSHUA PERRY, Harvard Advocate)
    -REVIEW: of Ravelstein (Juliana Geran Pilon, Humanitas)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Bob Wake, Culture Vulture)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (The Gaping Void)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Cornel Bonca, Orange County  Weekly)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein  (ROBERT WEIBEZAHL, Book Page)
    -ESSAY : Robert Fulford's column about James Atlas & Saul Bellow (The National Post, December 12, 2000)
    -ESSAY : Bellow: the novelist as homespun philosopher by Robert Fulford (The National Post, October 23, 2000)
    -ESSAY : Stephen Moss assesses the critical response to Saul Bellow's long-awaited Ravelstein (The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of  It All Adds Up: A Non-Fiction Collection by Saul Bellow (Peter Conrad, The Observer)
    -REVIEW : of The Actual by Saul Bellow (Grey Gowrie, Electronic Telegraph)
    -REVIEW : of Editors: The Best from Five Decades Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford (George Walden, This is London)
    -REVIEW: Mr. Bellow's Planet: Trailing clouds of glory, The Actual caps a career of fictional soul-making (Hillel Halkin, Commentary)
    -REVIEW : of Collected Stories of Saul Bellow  (Paul Gray, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Collected Stories of Saul Bellow (Stephen Amidon, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW : of Saul Bellow's Collected Stories (Alex Clark, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Collected Stories by Saul Bellow (Jenny Shank, Rocky Mountain News)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow: A Biography by James Atlas (Richard Poirier, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow : A Biography of Saul Bellow (Frances Kiernan, SF Gate Books)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow : a Biography by James Atlas (Lawrence Rainey, Independent uk)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow: A Biography. By James Atlas (EILEEN BATTERSBY , Irish Times)
    -REVIEW : of JAMES ATLAS: Bellow: A Biography (Richard Stern, The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (James Wood, New Republic)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (Edward Neuert, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (Hywel Williams, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Saul Bellow (1915-) (kirjasto)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR : Saul Bellow (NY Times Book Review)
    -AUTHOR PAGE : SAUL BELLOW (1915-) (The Guardian)
    -Saul Bellow Society and Journal
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of Ravelstein
    -ESSAY : Saul Bellow's Introduction to 'The Closing of the American Mind'
    -Choosing the Necessary:   Remarks by Saul Bellow to Padgett Powell's Graduate Class in Fiction Writing at the University of Florida,  Gainesville,  February 21, 1992
    -INTERVIEW : Saul Bellow seizes the day : A near-fatal dose of food poisoning has given Saul Bellow a new sense of urgency at 81. He talks to Desmond O'Grady about his latest novel (Electronic Telegraph)
    -INTERVIEW : The Full Bellow Treatment : At 84, novelist Saul Bellow has two new progeny: an infant daughter and a controversial novel. Friends say the new book is a paean to his friend Allan Bloom; foes say it's a malicious outing. (Sandra Martin, , April 29, 2000, Books Reporter)
    -INTERVIEW : Fathers and sons : Martin Amis discusses art, death and family relationships with his mentor and kindred spirit, Saul Bellow (Electronic Telegraph)
    -INTERVIEW : with Saul Bellow (Joanna Coles, September 10, 1997, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY : With Friends Like Saul Bellow : His support helped to make Allan Bloom a famous cultural conservative. But now that Bellow has written a roman á clef revealing that Bloom was gay (and possibly died from AIDS), his critics are crying betrayal. He fears they may be right. (D.T. MAX, April 2000, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY :   A Bellow Novel Eulogizes a Friendship (DINITIA SMITH, January 27, 2000, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : Bellow's betrayal blots his copybook : Nobel laureate forced to repent over the 'outing' of Thatcher's favourite author (Ed Vulliamy, and Vanessa Thorpe, April 23, 2000, The Observer)
    -PROFILE : The wordly mystic's late bloom : He is one of our greatest novelists and has a Nobel prize to prove it. Married five times, he describes himself as a serial husband. Now, at 84, after a near-fatal illness, he has produced a vibrant novel and a baby daughter. James Wood, April 15, 2000, The Guardian)
    -PAL: Perspectives in American Literature:  A Research and Reference Guide: "Chapter 10: Late Twentieth Century: 1945 to the Present - Saul Bellow (1915 - )"
    -Herzog: Essay Topics and Critical Commentary
   -MARTIN AMIS: Between the Influences of Bellow and Nabokov (Victoria N. Alexander, The Antioch Review Fall 1994)
    -Shame and Saul Bellow's "Something to Remember Me By" (Saul Bellow Journal)
    -ESSAY : Saul Bellow, Allan Bloom, and Abe Ravelstein (Robert Fulford, Globe and Mail, November 2, 1999)
    -ESSAY : Fictional characters and their real-life models (Sanford Pinsker, Special to N.J. Jewish News)
    -ESSAY : Poison Ivy (David L. Kirp, American Prospect)
    -ESSAY : Wrestling in the Halls of Academe (Michael Miner, Chicago Reader)
    -ESSAY : Death and the Men of Letters : Measuring Roth and Bellow by the Way They Handle the Final Question (MARK KRUPNICK, The Forward)
    -LINKS : Saul Bellow (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES : Allan Bloom (Upstream)
    -ARCHIVES : "Saul Bellow" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "Saul Bellow" (Mag Portal)
    -Mr. Bellow's Planet (from Commentary)
    -The Quest for the Self in Bellow's Henderson
    -Saul Bellow (from Nobel Prize Site)
    -INTERVIEW:  A CANDID TALK WITH SAUL BELLOW  (D.J.R. Bruckner, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY : The Great American Augie : Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976, but the great novel that set him on the course for the prize had been published 23 years earlier, in 1953. The peripatetic hero of The Adventures of Augie March spoke in an idiom entirely new to American literature--an astonishing mix of the high-flown and the low-down. (Christopher Hitchens , Wilson Quarterly)
    -ESSAY : So, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Cocteau walk into a bar ...  Unpredictable, startling and mysterious meetings (Robert Fulford, National Post)
    -ESSAY: Bellow at 85, Roth at 67 (Norman Podhoretz, Commentary)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Jonathan Wilson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein by Saul Bellow (complete review)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Barton Wong, Spintech)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein by Saul Bellow (Floyd Skloot, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Louis Menand, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein ( J. Bottum, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Saul Bellow's Ravelstein (J. Bottum, The Crisis)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Christopher Hitchens, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein  (Lorin Stein, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (George Walden, This is London)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (James Wood,  April 15, 2000, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Gary Giddins, Village Voice)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Mark Greif, American Prospect)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (The American Enterprise, Leon Aron)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (John Mullan, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Zachary Leader, Independent uk )
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (John Leonard, The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Stephen Mitchelmore, Spike)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (PAUL GRAY, TIME)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Chris Wood, Richmond Review)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (JOSHUA PERRY, Harvard Advocate)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Bob Wake, Culture Vulture)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (The Gaping Void)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein (Cornel Bonca, Orange County  Weekly)
    -REVIEW : of Ravelstein  (ROBERT WEIBEZAHL, Book Page)
    -ESSAY : Robert Fulford's column about James Atlas & Saul Bellow (The National Post, December 12, 2000)
    -ESSAY : Bellow: the novelist as homespun philosopher by Robert Fulford (The National Post, October 23, 2000)
    -ESSAY : Stephen Moss assesses the critical response to Saul Bellow's long-awaited Ravelstein (The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of  It All Adds Up: A Non-Fiction Collection by Saul Bellow (Peter Conrad, The Observer)
    -REVIEW : of The Actual by Saul Bellow (Grey Gowrie, Electronic Telegraph)
    -REVIEW : of Editors: The Best from Five Decades Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford (George Walden, This is London)
    -REVIEW: Mr. Bellow's Planet: Trailing clouds of glory, The Actual caps a career of fictional soul-making (Hillel Halkin, Commentary)
    -REVIEW : of Collected Stories of Saul Bellow  (Paul Gray, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Collected Stories of Saul Bellow (Stephen Amidon, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW : of Saul Bellow's Collected Stories (Alex Clark, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Collected Stories by Saul Bellow (Jenny Shank, Rocky Mountain News)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow: A Biography by James Atlas (Richard Poirier, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow : A Biography of Saul Bellow (Frances Kiernan, SF Gate Books)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow : a Biography by James Atlas (Lawrence Rainey, Independent uk)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow: A Biography. By James Atlas (EILEEN BATTERSBY , Irish Times)
    -REVIEW : of JAMES ATLAS: Bellow: A Biography (Richard Stern, The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (James Wood, New Republic)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (Edward Neuert, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (Hywel Williams, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of Bellow by James Atlas (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)

Comments:

You know what? Scratch everything I had written up to now. Your site is great. It serves as a perfect example of puritanical contempt for and hatred of The Other. Keep on "living free or dying", OJ, and I will make sure to pray every day in my heart of hearts that your children grow up to be secularists!

- Rémi Labrecque

- Jul-08-2005, 09:32

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You can take the man out of France, not the France out of the man, eh?

- oj

- Jul-07-2005, 16:48

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Your condescending and presumptuous rebuttal further proves my point. I am not French but in fact a bilingual Canadian, who happens to have been raised as a Roman Catholic.

So way to go, big guy - you really know how to shut us non-believers up! The All-Seeing & All-Knowing Entity Upstairs has a spot in the front row of his golden chapel reserved just for you! Go get 'em, tiger! Do it for the King!

- Rémi Labrecque

- Jul-07-2005, 16:30

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Are any French not bitter about the hash their secular modernism has made of their lives?

- oj

- Jul-07-2005, 12:52

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Or maybe you have the breadth of taste of an Inquisition-era missionary who couldn't recognize truly brilliant writing if it licked your earlobe and called you Big Papa?

Here's a thought that occured to me: why don't you leave modern books to people who can appreciate them and keep your reductionist moralism for a Sunday column somewhere? I'm sure that your fellow parishioners are growing tired of Oprah's picks and that they are in dire need of fodder for their next book-bonfire.

Your insistence on reviewing material which obviously surpasses your stunted worldview is laughable. Have a nice life, and a hearty hip-hip-hooray to all of you who choose to go through life without the comfort of monotheistic blinders.

- Rémi Labrecque

- Jul-07-2005, 12:44

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This book is somewhat more significant -- and pernicious -- than your review would suggest. It is the mid-century equivalent of Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible. Henderson, steeped in neurosis, views Africa simply as a backdrop for the resolution of his incredibly trivial psychological ailments. The fact that the continent at the time of his visit consisted of newly formed countries desperately trying to construct a social fabric after decades of colonialization is of no concern to him. The globe-trotting Henderson discovers mysterious healing virtues among the primitive animist tribes -- though without inspecting them particularly closely, since he doesn't associate with anyone outside of tribal royalty. Quite a number of Western romantics have done the same, of course, not only in Henderson's day, but long before and ever since. And the harm they've inflicted on the very peoples they claim to admire is incalculable. Henderson's real-life contemporary, Dag Hammerskjold, operated on precisely the same assumptions, that white civilization had taken a wrong turn somewhere and that the wisdom of the Stone-Age cultures of Africa could set it right again. The results can be seen in Rwanda, in the Sudan, in Zimbabwe, in Nigeria, and in several other dismal locations too numerous to itemize.

- Josh

- Jun-16-2005, 20:15

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Mr. Labrecque:

The thought occurs that maybe you just have bad taste?

- oj

- Apr-12-2005, 16:17

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Thank you for consistently writing the most ill-informed, un-perceptive and close-minded reviews available on the Internet. You trash most of my favorite authors and novels, all because you don't "get" why they're so popular. Maybe you just don't "get" them - period. Seriously, I don't know what you do for a living, but you should stay out of the realm of literary criticism. I haven't even bothered to look up what books deserved an A+ in your rankings, but I'm sure that they would make my eyes roll.

Completetly pathetic. Makes my blood boil and my stomach turn to see you pass your ignorance off as discriminating taste. Go back to reading Grisham and Koontz!

- Rémi Labrecque

- Apr-12-2005, 15:35

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