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Humboldt's Gift CD-ROM – Jan 1 2008


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Product Details

  • CD-ROM: 2 pages
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; MP3 edition (Jan. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786162562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786162567
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 1.4 x 0.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 95 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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By productum on April 11 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bellow gives readers a diverse cast of characters, full of humanity. His baffled protagonist, Charlie Citrine, is on the downward incline of his sixth decade, a life of great accomplishment behind him. Citrine is being financially drained by a vengeful ex-wife and many others. Knowingly taken for a ride by a lusty younger woman, he consoles and distracts himself with a goofy pastiche of theosophical nonsense. Through it all he always makes the right decision, retaining his humanity, if not solving anything. By the end, probably nothing is resolved for Citrine, but grateful readers will be glad they took the ride with him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on Nov. 17 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As in Bellow's "Herzog" and "Seize the Day," the protagonist of "Humboldt's Gift" is a highly educated late-middle-aged man who's made a minor mess of his life but weathers the storm with any resources of which he can avail himself. Charlie Citrine, an Appleton, Wisconsin, native transplanted to Chicago, is an author and a briefly successful playwright who spends the novel reminiscing about his longtime friendship with the late poet Von Humboldt Fleisher, an eccentric genius and self-diagnosed manic depressive, and describing the people and events in his life that somehow seem to shape themselves around his relationship with Humboldt.
Humboldt once had a goal to raise the esteem of the poet's role in American society. In 1952 he believed an Adlai Stevenson presidency would allow the involvement of more intellectuals in government; when this hope crumbled, he sought and won an ephemeral poetry chair at Princeton, where he and Citrine concocted a strangely Sophoclean movie treatment about a doomed Arctic expedition and a man who became a cannibal. This was not the last of their show business aspirations; Citrine's play, "Von Trenck," based loosely on Humboldt's life and therefore vexatious to Humboldt, was a hit on the theater circuit and was made into a movie.
Citrine's dubious fortune attracts all kinds of problems with love and money. His ex-wife Denise is straining him over an uncomfortable divorce settlement; his new girlfriend, a much younger woman named Renata, takes advantage of him and leaves him stranded in Madrid to babysit her son. A simple poker night results in an undesirable association with a small-time gangster named Rinaldo Cantabile from which he can't seem to extricate himself.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Bellow book I've read and I finished feeling ambivalent about his talents.
Humboldt's Gift is the story of a successful writer, Charlie Citrine and his fascination with his friend the poet, Von Humboldt Fleisher. Woven within the text are his relationships with a mobster, several women, and an unreliable literary friend.
Citrine is an intellectual and a thinker. Interspersed throughout the story are philosophical thoughts and conjectures about life. Sometimes these further the story or provide more depth to a character, other times they seem like extraneous rambling.
The strength of the book is Citrine's strong and unique narrative voice and the portrait of literary and mob life in Chicago, New York and Europe of the 1970s.
What disappointed me about the book was that the lack of a strong story line made it difficult to continue reading. I felt the same story could have been told in a few hundred fewer pages.
Overall, not a terrible book, but not especially memorable.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The author was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature the same year. In reference to some of the other reviews, I would note that readers need to decide whether they want to read literature or to read brain candy. This novel is literature and requires some amount of concentrated thought. The author digresses and backtracks to fill in details of various characters. He also has a tendency to philosophize. It is past page 300 before you actually get to Humboldt's Gift. It took some effort to get into the novel but, once involved, it was worth the effort. Some parts are more interesting than others, especially the parts set in Chicago.
Charlie Citrine is a writer who is at a crisis point in his life. His ex-wife is trying to strip him of everything he has. He is in trouble with the IRS over past tax returns. Investments have gone bad. He is threatened by a hoodlum, who really wants Charlie to help his wife on a PhD dissertation. He is having some conflicts with his girlfriend. He is almost out of funds, but everyone thinks he is rich.
Charlie had been the protege of the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher. Humboldt had early success, than went downhill. He could be compared to Vincent Van Gogh, i.e., people were not buying his work; he was considered psychotic; and he died in poverty; but is now well regarded after his death. He was not as crazy as people thought, and he leaves a surprising legacy.
The novel is a story of Charlie turning his life around, and rebounding to new found fame. He has help from Humboldt from beyond the grave.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
this book is captivating only if you have loads of patience to go through all the intellectual material loaded in it by the author. it is not the kind which can be whole heartedly endorsed to everyone. the plot is about Charles Citrine a famous author- now in decline- and his poet-friend Von Humboldt and their internal struggles. like everyone else, Citrine too faces all the common problems of life. these are all encompassing interms of physical (hairloss), material (eluding success, lawsuits and money), emotional (ex-wife, gold- digging girlfriend, ambiguous friends), and intellectual (philistinism, deciline in arts, Humboldt's failure etc). but the most important quest for him is to define consciousness. he is forever struggling with this enigma. he is in search of an answer for the following mysteries of nature. what is this consciousness, is there a spirit and a soul, what do they mean, is there a higher form of consciousness like the spirit, does this consciousness remain after death and if so what are its consequences and so on. he is scared of a conscious entity after death but again if there is none, he argues the futility of a single life. these enquiries of his range from topics like meta-physics to mysticism and spiritualism. though Bellow may not have actually attempted to deal with this subject, it forms the most interesting part of the book. the rest is in the higher realms of intellectualism which one may neither follow nor comprehend. but one is helped in tiding over these parts by Bellow's typical humourous and satirical prose. if you are really hounded by the enquiries mentioned above, then this book will prove an interesting read.
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