Humboldt's Gift (Penguin Classics)
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“I think it A Work of genius, I think it The Work of a Genius, I think it brilliant, splendid, etc. If there is literature (and this proves there is) this is where it’s at.” –John Cheever
Saul Bellow’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel explores the long friendship between Charlie Citrine, a young man with an intense passion for literature, and the great poet Von Humboldt Dleisher. At the time of Humboldt’s death, Charlie’s life is falling apart: 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.
This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
afraid to tackle you." "Who, that health fiend, with all the color in his face? For Christ sake he looks like an apple, with all that jogging five miles a day, and the vitamins I saw in his medicine chest. There were seven, eight people at the game. They could have bounced us. Your friend has no guts." I said, "Well, it wasn't a good evening. I was high, though you don't believe it. Nobody was rational. Everyone was out of character. Let's be sensible." "What, I have to hear from my bank about
something, and he's grown a dago mustache. He's only a confused big-mouth kid and a dropout. I shouldn't have let him and his cousin into the house. Now you forget this. They were playing gangster and they cheated. I tried to stop you giving him the check. Then I made you stop payment. I won't let you give in. Anyhow, the whole thing--take it from me--is over." So I submitted. I couldn't challenge George's judgment. Now Cantabile had hit my car with everything he had. The blood left my heart
there was always a rock, a sail, a funnel and Julius wasn't having any of that. Nobody cared to paint the pure element, the inhuman water, the middle of the ocean, the formless deep, the world-enfolding sea. I kept thinking of Shelley among the Euganean Hills: Many a green isle needs must be In the deep wide sea of Misery... But Julius didn't see why there needs must be anything in any sea whatever. Like a reverse Noah he sent out his dove brother, beautifully dressed, greatly troubled,
the game, and I don't dig you. When are you going to do something and know what you're doing?" Those last words he spaced, he accented vehemently and uttered into my face. Then he snatched away his coat, which I was still holding for him, the rich brown raglan with its large buttons. Circe might have had buttons like those in her sewing box. They were very beautiful, really, rather Oriental-treasure buttons. The last garment I had seen resembling this one was worn by the late Colonel McCormick.
tried to surmount the problems by forcing boredom itself to yield interest. This insight I owe to Von Humboldt Fleisher who showed me how it was done by James Joyce, but anyone who reads books can easily find it out for himself. Modern French literature is especially preoccupied with the theme of boredom. Stendhal mentioned it on every page, Flaubert devoted books to it, and Baudelaire was its chief poet. What is the reason for this peculiar French sensitivity? Can it be because the ancien