Henderson the Rain King

ISBN: 0140189424
ISBN 13: 9780140189421
By: Saul Bellow

Check Price Now

Genres

1001 1001 Books Africa Classics Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Literature Modern Library 100 Novels

About this book

Henderson has come to Africa on a spiritual safari, a quest for the truth. His feats of strength, his passion for life, and, most importantly, his inadvertant success in bringing rain have made him a god-like figure among the tribes.

Reader's Thoughts

Quân Khuê

Cuốn này, sau chừng 100 trang đầu, tôi tự hỏi mình có nên đọc tiếp. Nhưng cũng vào lúc tôi đang băn khoăn thì nhân vật chính, Henderson - một triệu phú người Mỹ, đột nhiên quyết định đi sang châu Phi. Những chuyến đi châu Phi luôn hứa hẹn những điều kỳ thú, nhất là khi Henderson quyết định tránh xa những dấu vết văn minh để đi off the beaten track vào những nơi xa xôi, hẻo lánh, lạ lùng nhất. Trước chuyến đi châu Phi, thành tích đáng kể nhất của Henderson là bắn hụt một con mèo (tất nhiên phải trừ quả huân chương trong chiến tranh thế giới thứ hai). Chuyến đi châu Phi của Henderson đầy ắp những sự kiện đáng ghen tỵ cho bất cứ tiểu thuyết phiêu lưu nào: làm nổ tung một bồn nước đầy ếch nhái bằng một quả bom làm từ đèn pin và dây giày, ngủ cùng với xác chết, đột nhiên bị lột quần áo và tung hô hay gầm gào cùng với sư tử. Thế nhưng, lẽ dĩ nhiên Ông hoàng mưa không chỉ là một tiểu thuyết phiêu lưu. Cái tiếng nói trong đầu Henderson thôi thúc ông rời khỏi cuộc sống vô vị dấn thân vào cuộc phiêu lưu để tìm hiểu bản thân mình muốn gì hẳn là tiếng nói mà đôi khi mỗi chúng ta cũng nghe thấy nhưng thường bị lờ đi. Và những đoạn đối thoại giữa Henderson và vị vua sư tử minh triết Dahfu thực sự là thức ăn thượng hạng cho tâm hồn, tha hồ cho ta vừa ăn vừa chiêm nghiệm cuộc sống.

Kim Godard

If you enjoy philosophy, this is a book for you. Ditto if self-discovery, Don Quixote-like tilting at "windmills," allusions, and personal growth are interests of yours. Personally, this book is readable simply because Bellow is a master of the metaphor. As a taste of what you'll find, one of his best; he's describing a cemetery with its headstones: "each of the dead having been mailed away, and those stones like the postage stamps death has licked." See? Good book.

Elizabeth

This was a struggle for me but I enjoyed it. I was not offended by the stereotypical depiction of Africa nor the bumbling, blustering, outrageous (self-described) Henderson but I don't know if I got much out of it except the fabulous word play and the idea of the spiritual hunger which ran through the book. The famous line "I want, I want, I want..." is one that certainly all have experienced. It was perhaps the juxtaposition of crude humor and lofty philosophical thoughts that left me a bit baffled. I think I need a class on this book. I am committed to read 5 books per year off the Modern Library list and this was number 5. (I just made it).

Moses Kilolo

My previous attempts at reading Bellow were not that interesting. For some reason I could not go into the spine of the Humboldt's Gift, and Herzog was some tough material for me. Could be I was not really ready for him or his kind of writing. But that has now changed with my reading of Handerson the rain King, and I plan to attempt Bellow again some time soon. The man Handerson is a wild and funny one, but very deep and weird in his own sense. He does not settle for what society seemingly lays in his path, and he now has to flee to Africa. As he confesses towards the end of the book, in search of wisdom, or a way of life or whatever it is that Americans leave their land to look for in remote places. His trip is in most part not very interesting. He goes through all sorts of trials and meets Itelo the first King before he meets Dahfu, the second King, who teaches him a lot. Basically, the essentials of life! Great book to learn a lot from, especially about fear, and why we should be like lions.

Jamie

Well. This book took work. It was beautifully written, but it was dull. It was fast-paced, but it seemed to take years to get through it. The first hundred pages or so are very expository – the titular character talks about his reasons for going to Africa, but it takes a very long time for him to actually get to Africa. It’s plodding. And then suddenly the opposite happens: he gets to Africa, and in single paragraphs so many things happen that you get a little distracted. It’s hard to focus. Where many writers would describe all the actions in detail, Bellow tacks in a sentence and then just moves on. Henderson walks through a village and notices things around him, almost as though he’s narrating it a little stream-of-consciousness. The important thing to note is that it’s NOT stream-of-consciousness, so you’re stuck back with the lady at the hut while Henderson has moved over to the man with the cow.What did I like? I like that Henderson has a little Don Quijote in him. I like how he’s clearly a parody of the white savior. And then we get to the part that I loved: the sentences. The turns of phrase. The whole reason to read this book.There isn’t really a need to describe the plot of this book. Though there is plot to be had – and a frickin’ ton of it – it’s not the reason why you read this book. You've got the rich guy, the African village, pigs, frogs, lions, kings, wives, etc. Instead, I plowed through this book for the sentences, for the phrases that literally made me stop in awe of Bellow’s descriptive power.For instance, two of the more amazing sentences: "He was always so gleaming. His very blood must have been like furniture polish." Also, when describing a cemetery, specifically the headstones: "each of the dead having been mailed away, and those stones like the postage stamps death has licked." Bellow writes the most perfect similes and metaphors I've ever read.The most amazing passage, however, is Henderson’s prayer. Though it’s not really spelled out, we can work under the assumption that he’s a non-believer, but he feels compelled to offer up a prayer in the hopes that it will actually help him in the battle he faces. And he proceeds to say this, which has to be the funniest and in a way the stupidest prayer ever uttered: “Oh, you… Something, you Something because of whom there is not Nothing. Help me to do Thy Will. Take off my stupid sins. Untrammel me. Heavenly Father, open up my dumb heart and for Christ’s sake preserve me from unreal things. Oh, Thou who tookest me from pigs, let me not be killed over lions. And forgive my crimes and nonsense and let me return to Lily and the kids.” If that “for Christ’s sake” doesn’t kill you, well… this isn’t the book for you.

lori mitchell

i loved, loved, loved this book. this is the book that adam duritz from the counting crows named the song "the rain king" after...i've meant to read it for years and years and just now got around to it. i plan on buying a copy and picking it up once a year or so. it's just really so enjoyable and really beautiful. favorite excerpts:"I had a voice that said I want! I want? I? It should have told me SHE wants, HE wants, THEY want. And moreover, it's love that makes reality reality. The opposite makes the opposite.""Sometimes I think it is helpful to think of burial in a relation to the earth's crust. Four thousand five hundred miles more or less, to the core of the earth. No, graves are not deep but insignifigant, a few mere feet from the surface and not fear from fearing and desiring. More or less the same fear, more or less the same desire for thousands of generations. Child, father, father, child doing the same. Desire the same. Upon the crust, beneath the crust, again and again and again. Well, Henderson, what are the generations for, Please explain to me? Only to repeat fear and desire without a change? This cannot be what the thing is for, over and over and over. Any good man will break the cycle. There is no issue from that cycle for a man who do not take things into his hands."

Cindy

Henderson The Rain King certainly provides food for thought. Eugene Henderson's macho character was modeled after another famous E. H. This E. H. was a boozer, went to Africa and carried his macho weight around like a club as does Eugene Henderson, and at times, wanted to blow his brains out. As many people of the day went off to Africa - however, notes Henderson, 'man goes into the external world, and all he can do with it is to shoot it?' Eugene just wants to set the record straight, with himself, because he's grown too fat and feels disgusted, with everything.It's not that Eugene doesn't have everything, because he does. He's inherited a lot of money from his father's estate, he has a wonderful old family home where he raises pigs. He has a wife (second) and lots of children who he rarely bats an eye to. He also strives to play the violin, the same one his father played. But he is a blustery, miserable, drunken sod who yells and carries on - owing to the craving that he is constantly in want.Eugene Henderson decides finally that he has to go to Africa or die in bed. Those are his options. Africa is a wake up call as travel is to live and experience things that one is not accustomed to. He of coarse blunders his way around and is always searching for a foothold. He wants answers and he wants someone to see him for who and what he truly is. And he wants his life to have meaning and purpose. The second African tribe he settles in with (after botching the visit to the first tribe), he makes a good friend in King Dahfu. The king is also in transition trying to abolish some of the old, superstitous ways of his tribe as he is educated and does not rely on superstition alone as the tribe tends to-however, he walks a very fine line.I found this book to be full of little gems such as the allusion to Walt Whitman (Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe!) -"Being. Others were taken up with becoming. Being people have all the breaks. Becoming people are very unlucky, always in a tizzy. The Becoming people are always having to make explanations or offer justifications to the Being people. While Being people provoke these explanations...Enough, enough. Time to have become. Time to be. Burst the spirit's sleep..." I like this sort of thing.Eugene's character grows, he tries to get passed becoming and he realizes the importance of things he took for granted and he also comes to terms with the past and with his own imperfections as a human being. This is a funny book at times, but it wasn't hilarious to me because I realized that much of Eugene's blunders come from his good intentions and from pain itself, but of coarse much of it all is self inflicted and comes from an over inflated ego. At times, Eugene reminded me of Ignatius Reilly with his blowhard, blustery ways of blundering. But throughout the book, I liked him. He does have a good sense of humor.I really enjoyed this book, might not be for all, but if you enjoy a work that speaks for the ages, this is one. Saul Bellow seeks to answer the spirit's call and awaken the soul in the midst of mediocrity, boredom, and uncertainty in an age of material possesions and he does a fine job of it throughout his entire oeuvre. Any one of his books can turn into a soul searching adventure and he does have a magical, rhythmic way with words

Richard Hensley

If you can endure the narcissistic, misogynistic narrator-protagonist, if you can pretend to believe that every woman he meets wants to jump his bones, every guy wants to become his pal and no one anywhere wants to slap him silly, if you can abide the phony African setting, if you can shrug off the plot contrivances and force yourself to care about yet another privileged male’s midlife crisis, if you can avoid rolling your eyes out of socket at the “humorous” mishaps caused by the Rabelaisian hero against the noble savages he pursues, then occasionally you will find some perceptive observations in this novel. Eventually the narrator will reveal a spark of humanity. Once or twice he will treat women as though they’re almost human. And some of the author’s descriptive flourishes will evoke genuine pleasure. But Bellow here wants it both ways: he wants to parody the Hemingway-esque hero type and he also wants page after page philosophical babble to be taken seriously. I couldn’t do it. Over and over again I set this book aside never wanting to look at it again; I read review after review trying to appreciate what others saw; I forced myself to continue in an effort to understand its critical acclaim; but I'm still baffled.

Francesco Fantuzzi

Caspita!Ho capito che, insieme a H. Boell, Bellow sarà uno degli autori che leggerò integralmente, con tanto di rilettura di Herzog. Capisco che Bellow possa essere stato particolarmente legato a questo romanzo, dato che contiene la vita al suo interno, in tante sue manifestazioni e rifratta in mille colori. Un'esistenza che spesso ci è incomprensibile, ma che si disvela, brano a brano, nelle esperienze, negli incontri più varii, e che magari, nella sua enorme complessità, non giungeremo mai ad afferrare nella sua interezza, consapevoli, tuttavia, che a questa ricerca non rinunceremo.

Arun Divakar

There is a thriving trade in self-help books which have always baffled me. I could never relate to another person telling me Look, these are the steps you need to take to better your life & if you don't take them you are done for ! Well, no book will be so absolute in saying so but underlying all the sugarcoating there is this message loud & clear in most books of this genre. Then however comes the matter of literature where a clever author without even giving you the faintest clue ties a blindfold around your eyes and walks you along telling you the story of a character & a quest. At some point (s)he pulls the blindfold off you & cries There, you see where our character is right now ? Then and only then do you realize the importance of the word self-discovery. Precisely what Saul Bellow does in this book !There is no patronizing in the words, no hollow advise on quick fixes you need to follow to discover the meaning of life. There is however a series of nerve wracking ordeals through which the guinea pig of a character named Eugene Henderson has to go through. Eugene is the oddball scion of an illustrious American family which counts State Secretaries, Scientists, Scholars & Lunatics among wealth and a solid ancestry. Eugene however is a totally different beast altogether, he is from rind to core a mass of confusion.When confronted with situations or emotions that threaten to get the better of him, he reacts in the only way best known to him : violence. He tries to find an inner meaning & solace in a lot of totally unconnected areas : Music, Sex, Soldiering, Alcohol, Farming but each tend to be a bigger disaster than the one preceding it. Eugene to me was very much akin to what a gorilla would have been in a glass factory. Leaving behind such a trail of shattered things, he escapes to Africa. It is among two of the most isolated of tribes : The Arnewi & The Wariri that the rest of his life story is penned.One amusing character I found in the tale was of King Dahfu of the Wariri. Eugene's interactions with the King give way to some of the most mind boggling & quote worthy prose in the book. The eccentric intelligence of the King rubs off on Eugene and the first tentative roots of transformation take hold in his character. Of significant presence for the principal protagonist is also the prophecy of Daniel on Nebuchadnezzar for at all phases in life, Eugene is closely linked to the lives of animals around him. The prose is extremly powerful and moving. While retaining the touch of a master wordsmith, Bellow creates extremely witty monologues especially in the earlier half of the book. This is easily a favorite for me !

Jamie VW

I need to stop reading Saul Bellow.In fact, 2/3rds through this book, I was announcing that I was swearing off all mid 20th century male writers. But I'll walk that back some and just come to the point where I announce that I have now tried Bellows three times and there is something that absolutely turns me off. I had thought that since I had read two minor works (cue Squid and the Whale joke), The Bellarosa Connection and Mr. Sammler's Planet, I should try one selected as part of the cannon. Yet Henderson the Rain King just further cemented my distaste for his plot lines. I can admire the man's prose at certain points, but it is his characters and flow that just turns me off.There is a certain narcissism that oozes from his protagonists. I find this a problem with Roth and Updike too (see why I was in a rage yesterday?) In reading Henderson, I just find myself overwhelmed by the use of “I” as a way of telling a story. Apart from the main character who is fleshed out and where the reader is stuffed into his mind, there is very little of three-dimension in this book. The landscape feels flat, the other characters seem paper thin, the African culture, stereotypical or not is bland and even the eventual spiritual growth (from a pig to a lion! Or other such force fed ideas) seems like it will wash away shortly after the book ends. Increasingly, I look to fiction as an exploration of interaction, whereas Bellows seems much more caught up in inner turmoil and self-centered reflection. It also is often disturbingly misogynistic – or at the very least devoid of any sort of compelling female perspective. Women – and in this book, different cultures as well – are props, jokes or unimportant.My other issue with this book is with its humor, which hardly makes up for the irritating drip of the I pronoun. The book reminds of Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater in its description of a wealthy scion’s escape from expectations and descent into madness. Vonnegut used it for a societal critique, while Bellows used the tale as almost a celebration of what it is to be a man, searching for manliness, with a gloss of goofiness to blunt the edges of his masculinity theme. It doesn't help that Conrad in all his inelegance did it so much better - though Bellows does try to replace "the horror" with Henderson's "I want".The quote that really ties up the nauseating quality of Henderson and his paper world is from page 197 - "I did treat everything in the world as though it was a medicine." It is a moment of clarity in an otherwise uncritical, opaque book. I feel used by the end, the reader as an antibiotic, sharing in all the minute miseries of a white privileged man. Frankly, I'd rather share in the life of someone else.

Vale

Dice tu vuoi vivere, Grun-tu-molani. L’uomo vuole vivere.In queste calde giornate di luglio, l’idea della fuga ritorna nella mia mente come un mantra. Ci sarà un altrove?Un luogo diverso non solo nella lingua, nei costumi e nell’architettura, ma nelle persone e nei valori di cui sono portatori. Fatico sempre di più ad incastrarmi nel modus vivendi di chi mi circonda e la letteratura resta uno dei pochi luoghi inviolati in cui riesco a respirare. Penso ad Enrico Baj perché nel saggio Ecologia dell’arte scriveva che "il degrado ambientale", nasce da un "inquinamento che è mentale, prima ancora che territoriale". L’uomo è incapace di comunicare poiché replica un falso sé. I rapporti sono oggetti: si vende, si compra, si sostituisce. I valori civili? Non in questo mondo in cui anche l’uomo diviene ciò che di più accessorio esista.Cosa c’entra Bellow?Permette di respirare a pieni polmoni e ci conduce nel cuore dell’Africa, alle radici del nostro essere uomini per un’archeologia del sentire.Il protagonista della vicenda si chiama Eugene Henderson ed è un uomo di cinquantacinque anni, benestante e “quasi” appagato dalla sua esistenza. Non totalmente appagato, infatti, decide di partire per l’Africa alla ricerca di verità sulla vita e sul vivere. Bellow, con la sua prosa icastica, delinea un viaggio a cui è impossibile sottrarsi sin dall’inizio, sin da quando la vecchia donna del popolo Arnewi riconoscerà negli occhi di Henderson la brama di cambiamento: tu-molani … tu vuoi vivere perché Henderson sa cosa vuol dire giacere sepolti in se stessi in un dolore muto.In Africa Henderson scoprirà la grammatica dei sentimenti umani, quelle regole di base che permettono per asindeto una comprensione senza ambiguità: un cuore che batte d’amore, di qualsiasi natura esso sia, necessita solo di una mano che lo ascolti battere. E’ qualcosa di reale, le parole sarebbero orpelli. L’intera gestalt del romanzo è costruita intorno alla ricerca dell’autentico, anche se brutale, “sentire umano”. Cosa dovevo dire a questo signore? Che l’esistenza mi s’era fatta odiosa? Potevo forse dirgli che il mondo, il mondo intero, si era posto contro la vita, era ostile ad essa, ma che tuttavia io ero vivo e che mi era impossibile accettare quello stato di cose? Che qualcosa in me, il mio grun-tu-molani, si opponeva e mi rendeva impossibile ogni acquiescenza? E non potevo dire neppure: “Vede, ogni cosa si è fatta così terribile e complicata, ecco, e noi non siamo altro che strumenti di quel che succede in questo mondo”. E neppure: “Io son fatto così, star fermo mi fa star male, e mi debbo muovere”. E neanche: “Sto cercando di imparare qualcosa, prima che tutto quanto mi sfugga”.La grandezza di questo romanzo risiede nella sua capacità di declassare a "insignificanti" tutte le manifestazioni umane di autocelebrazione. Aiuta a pulire la mente dal vuoto che ci circonda e urla incessante.

Judy

This is the fifth Saul Bellow novel I have read. I started with his first, The Dangling Man (1944) and moved along. I don't know that he is currently read much (and I don't know why), but I just love his novels. I would think that an author who won three National Book Awards, a Pulitzer, and the Nobel Prize should be an American treasure.Henderson is a character who could only have been created by Bellow. Larger than life, literally and figuratively, socially embarrassing, personally challenged as a husband and a father, and richer than Croesus, he moves through life leaving a wake of disaster.Due to various events including having become bored of being a pig farmer, Henderson decides to go to Africa, looking for adventure and personal redemption. He finds both, his well-intentioned but calamitous antics among the natives affording him access to tribal royalty.As I read on, enjoying every page, I began to see that simmering below the picaresque and the improbable was satire of the highest order. Is this the year I learn to understand and appreciate satire? It keeps popping up in the most unexpected novels and I have learned that it must be tastefully done or it drives me mad.So in 1959, Bellow published a novel that spoofs the mid-life crisis, the search for personal fulfillment, the African safari, and the American can-do attitude. At the same time, Henderson actually resolves his mid-life crisis, finds personal fulfillment, has the best ever safari (yes, there are lion hunts), and refines his American bull-headed ways.How did he do that?

Nick Jones

I read The Adventures of Augie March some 20 years ago and since then have been fully convinced that Saul Bellow is the finest English language novelist of his generation. He is the only one I know of who seems to sum up his age: his work calls for a multiplicity of responses that reflect the multiplicity of his times. Even when his characters seem trapped in some sort of spiritual impasse, the world around them teams with meaning. There is an energy in his world, one that is created through the dynamism and richness of his prose. Yet, for some reason, I’m not sure how much a like him. Some of my uncertainties I can identify – I can forgive male writers who fail to create strong women characters, but Bellow’s women tend to be monstrous: there seems to be an underlying misogynist terror of women in his work – but others I cannot put my finger on...I am just left with a certain disquietude. Henderson the Rain King is one of his most famous and admired works, written in the late 1950s when he is generally regarded to be at his peak, yet, while finding it astonishing in its parts, the work of a great writer, overall I think it is an unsatisfactory work...the failed work of a major writer. Written in first person, the prose is colloquial, lacking obvious literary finesse, and reflects the larger than life central character, dynamic, unruly, unsettled, like a bull in a china shop: it feels as though he is always shouting at us and the world. Typically for Bellow, Henderson’s life is at an impasse. Despite his privileged background and success as a war hero, his life seems aimless, his first marriage has broken down and his second seems rocky, he is alienated from his children and almost on a whim he became a pig farmer...and now a failing pig farmer. His and the book’s way out of this impasse is to have him head for Africa. He comes across one tribe who are peaceful and seemingly wise, but Henderson inadvertently brings disaster upon them. A second tribe are a tougher bunch, more macho, and here Henderson fits in better, is befriended by the king and becomes the ‘Rain King’. But there are dangers. This Africa and the Africans are no more ‘real’ than the South Americans in Voltaire’s Candide: the story remains about Henderson and his development, Africa is a land of symbolisms...at least I presume it is...I am just unsure what the symbolism is. Without a grasp of this the book just seems a series of picturesque adventures, a character of bravado, egotism and the occasional uncertainty, rushing through situations, sometimes successful, sometimes endangered, sometimes a failure. By the end I am unsure that anything has been accomplished, although it feels as though we are being bullied into feeling a certain optimistic hope, but I find it imposed and a little sentimental. It is all vivid and dynamic, but I have no sense what it is all doing...but that might be my failure.

David

Huh — so, the plot of this book, I say to myself, having chosen it at random from Peter Boxall's 1001 Books list, is a rich white guy goes to Africa to learn the meaning of life from the noble savages. Oh, I can see that this will turn out well.Saul Bellow is one of those Big Literary Dudes I've never read, but by reputation I was expecting him to be kind of like Philip Roth or J.M. Coetzee (who I did not love) — lots of manly wangsting to the tune of Fond Memories of Vagina.Okay, let me dial down the snark. If you read Henderson the Rain King with your PC glasses off, it's actually a better book than I was expecting, with a certain exuberance and joie de vivre that endeared it to me. I'm pretty sure "joie de vivre" isn't actually what Saul Bellow was going for, as the protagonist is actually a rather depressive fellow, a middle-aged divorcee whose wife and kids don't understand him, a World War II combat veteran with scars of the sort that that generation never admits to, running off to Africa because despite being rich and comfortable, he can't get no satisfaction, a decade before Mick and the Stones. Actually, Henderson's constant internal refrain is I want, I want, I want, and he spends the entire book trying to figure out what it is he wants.But there is something I liked about that big galoot Henderson, despite the fact that he goes stomping around Africa like the blundering big-nosed American he is. He loves and respects the Africans he meets, referring to them unselfconsciously as "savages" but meaning it in a nice way, and otherwise never displaying any racial prejudices. Is he a great big schmuck? Yes, especially after his attempt to "help" the first tribe he meets goes disastrously wrong. Like the big impervious dumbass white man he is, he walks away unscathed, feeling very, very bad about it. He finds another tribe, becomes a friend and confidant of the king, becomes the Sungo, the Rain God, in an improbable feat that had me rolling my eyes (okay, seriously? You're gonna go there, Mr. Bellow?), but as it turns out, the tribe has been playing their own game all along, using the clueless white guy as an instrument in their machinations since he so kindly presented himself as a useful fool. That being said, just as Henderson has genuine affection for the Africans, in his oblivious, patronizing way, they have genuine affection for him — even if they are willing to literally throw him to the lions, should it come to that.Most of the book, though, is taken up with the inside of Henderson's head, which is a more interesting place than it has any right to be thanks in large part to Saul Bellow's writing. "Sometimes a condition must worsen before bettering," he said, and he began to tell me of diseases he had known when he was on the wards as a student, and I tried to picture him as a medical student in a white coat and white shoes instead of the velvet hat adorned with human teeth and the satin slippers. He held the lioness by the head; her broth-colored eyes watched me; those whiskers, suggesting diamond scratches, seemed so cruel that her own skin shrank from them at the base. She had an angry nature. What can you do with an angry nature?Ah, why can't any SF authors write a space opera with prose like that?So this is a book about dudely dissatisfaction, yes, and it is kind of hard to feel sympathy for a millionaire who goes gallivanting off to Africa, deliberately seeking out the untouristed Africa and disappointed that there is so little untouristed Africa left. (As the first tribe he meets out in the hinterlands apologetically explains to him — in English — "We are discovered.") Bearing in mind this was written in the late 50s. Yet I did feel sorry for poor Henderson, and I even liked the guy. He makes a study of his own suffering, but he also tries to do right, ineptly but sincerely. And Saul Bellow paints him in big, bold colors, very much alive, very much complicated, an ultimately puny and comic human figure despite his vigorous strength and enviable wealth.My rating wavered between 3 and 4 stars, so I give it 3.5, and will round to 4. I didn't love it, but would not be averse to reading another of Bellow's works.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *