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"What Bellow is trying to do with the novel form is, of course, immensely ambitious and very difficult. In HERZOG, he brought it off by the letter device and the fine madness of the hero. Charlie Citrine is an interesting study in the competing urges of the flesh and the spirit, money-making and truth-seeking, but he is over-indulged by his creator. The novel would have been vastly improved by ruthless cutting; as it stands it is chiefly memorable for its many comic moments, superb descriptive snapshots of Chicago and brilliant mimicry of lawyers, businessmen and crooks. And that, it must be said, is a lot to be grateful for."
David Lodge, Times Literary Supplement, 10/10/75Review:
"...HUMBOLDT'S GIFT by Saul Bellow is a very funny novel--a kind of Felix Krull in reverse, with society as the confidence man; a fierce energetic comedy about postwar Jewish intellectuals trying to come to terms with American popular culture....Richard Gilman, in these pages, found the book guilty of lacking an 'ineluctable vision.'....Anatole Broyard in the daily Times seemed to feel that Bellow had insulted the late Delmore Schwartz (the von Humboldt Fleisher of the title)..., had turned his back on high culture, and had mindlessly succumbed to the 'anthroposophical' meditations of his narrator....Vivian Gornick in The Village Voice saw little in the novel but male chauvinist piggishness....Somehow, some way, the outsider has got to be elected, if not captain of the American team, then at least head cheerleader. This passion has never been so hilariously rendered....Everybody who is anybody, including a few grumpy friends of mine, has a walk-on part and a pratfall in HUMBOLDT'S GIFT."
John Leonard, New York Times Book Review, 9/7/75
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