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HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow Kirkus Star


by Saul Bellow

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1959
ISBN: 0143105485
Publisher: Viking

The National Book Award winner's first full length novel since The Adventures of Augie March is as bursting with life and energy as that fascinating book and has an even more absorbing hero. Augie was an observer, moving on the edges of other people's lives. Henderson involves himself in life over and over again- with disastrous results to others. A huge man in every way- in body, mind, emotion, spirit, strength, suffering, love of life- and a bum and an American millionaire to boot, Henderson at fifty-two is still driven and leaves his second wife and their twins and his children by his first wife. He heads into the heart of uncivilized Africa. His experiences with two dissimilar tribes and particularly with the king of the second, Dahfu, bring him to terms with his own nature and to an understanding of reality.... In spite of enthusiasm for the book as a whole, there may be certain reservations about a series of episodes- supposedly central to the final revelation in which Dahfu expounds his belief in the influence of animals over humans- and tries to have Henderson absorb the aura of a lion. This all seems a partly comic, partly pathetic, partly preachy enigma. Nevertheless, this is a powerful, funny and moving book that shouldn't be missed by anyone seriously interested in the American novel.