Humboldt's Gift

  • by Saul Bellow
  • Narrated by Christopher Hurt
  • 18 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For years, they were the best of friends: the grand, erratic Humboldt and the ambitious young Charlie. But now Humboldt has died a failure, and Charlie's success-ridden life has taken various turns for the worse. Then Humboldt acts from the grave to change Charlie's life: he has left Charlie something in his will.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Worth the effort

On reflection, this was quite a remarkable book. At first, I really struggled to follow the narrative, as there were so many tangential strands of the story and I was in serious danger of giving up. However, I'm really glad I stayed with it and I would advise just relaxing and not worrying about trying to find the 'real' plot - just enjoy Bellow's flights of intellectual fancy and allow yourself to wallow in the sublime turns of phrase and the incredible descriptive depths he goes to. I think he won the Nobel prize for this book and you can understand why. It really does become utterly engrossing at times and, despite his oft atrocious over-intellectualising, Charlie Citrine (having to guess at spellings, is one downside of audible books!) becomes truly vivid and lifelike.
I'm not well-up on my regional American accents, but the reader did a great job and seemed to bring a genuine Chicago-feel to the whole novel. Different characters were effortlessly portrayed with only the slightest of vocal changes and the intricacies of the fairly taxing philosophising were navigated as well as possible.
All in all, I was genuinely saddened when the book came to its predictably unpredictable end. Beautiful.
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- Mike Bradburn

A Great Novel

I remember struggling with Saul Bellow at school - Henderson the Rain King, I think it was. So I approached this book with some trepidation. But it is excellent - I love that sharp fluid prose of the best American writers. The novel itself is what you would call multi-layered. The story itself is quite interesting but what really makes the book is the clever way the author juxtaposes the storyline with the philosophical musings of the two main characters; at the beginning I could not believe that the author was being so serious, but by the end the subtlety of the presentation became more clear. The contrast between the main narrator's serious approach to matters intellectual and the seemingly luckless course if his life, and how the two are eventually reconciled is done with great generosity of heart. I loved it.

The narration is beautifully paced and does a great deal to bring out what the book is about.

Warmly recommended.
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- Tom

Book Details

  • Release Date: 27-11-2007
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.