Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow

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Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

Humboldt’s Gift is filled with references to literature and philosophy and, on the whole, focuses more on thinking than on action. Although Humboldt’s Gift took the Pulitzer Prize in 1976, critics have given it mixed reviews. Anatole Broyard, writing for the New York Times, gives a tepid review:

While the random contents of Saul Bellow’s mind make better reading than most novels, they do not make for a good novel in this case because they are not integrated into the action, such as it is.

Richard Gilman, in a more favorable New York Times review, compliments Bellow’s examination of American views on art and culture: “Its length is a function not so much of copious incident as of slow...

(The entire section is 239 words.)