Read The Victim by Saul Bellow Online

the-victim

Leventhal is a natural victim; a man uncertain of himself, never free from the nagging suspicion that the other guy may be right. So when he meets a down-at-heel stranger in the park one day and finds himself being accused of ruining the man's life, he half believes it....

Title : The Victim
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140189384
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Victim Reviews

  • Jimmy
    2019-01-11 00:00

    It's impossible to please everyone. Hopefully, there isn't a soul on this earth that doesn't realize that, even if it takes them a while to do so. An obsession with appeasing people in life is, in my opinion, one of the most vain and futile preoccupations that a person can have. For every individual, there is bound to be at least a handful of people that they will be despised by. It rarely takes very much either. We make judgements based upon someone's image, ideology, dietary preferences, habits, etc. Have you ever found yourself despising someone merely based on the way that they open a door (and I mean literally, opening a door)? I'm trying to avoid a vague ethical discourse here, but this idea seemed to be lying beneath the more obvious moral of Saul Bellow's, the Victim. The protagonist, Asa Leventhal lives a modest existence working for a small paper in New York. In the midst of a brutally hot summer, while his wife is out of town, he is confronted by a man from his past whose life he had supposedly ruined. The man's name is Kirby Allbee, who had once arranged an interview with a prominent newspaper, and assertively accuses Leventhal of not only getting him fired from his job, but also his subsequent divorce, which was also followed by his wife's death. What follows is a subplot involving a personal family tragedy for Leventhal while being pursued by Allbee who is seeking out some sort of moral reparation. The problem is that even if the reader finds Allbee's convictions solid, it's difficult to ignore how much of a loathsome character he is. Leventhal's faults are minor in comparison. Allbee is an anti-semitic, self-pitying, drunken asshole. There is very little to like about him. One wonders how Leventhal could possibly even consider the guilt that he should feel here. However, he has such a difficult time imagining how anyone, even Allbee could find him responsible for something as serious as the single-handed destruction of a life. Leventhal is obviously not to blame here, but he is a man that is easily lead into psychotically obsessive guilt. Allbee just takes advantage of this.Given the premise, I was expecting this sort of hellish, Dostoevskian parable. Bellow's characters seem to find a resolution that is somewhat more peaceful. I found Allbee's accusation to be somewhat uninspired. He's just blaming Leventhal for his shortcomings. Bellow, for the most part pegs him as the bad guy, as any anti-semitic character in life and in a Bellow novel should be pegged. This is what makes Bellow's first two novels seem like an extension for his outrage at the world as he saw it in the forties, which I think he expresses tastefully enough.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-01-07 23:42

    I had never read any Saul Bellow books before, but I picked this one up from a large 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list, which is one of the many sources from which I pick books. They tend to be quite different from my usual science fiction fare, and that's partly why I like them. It's good not to get too settled into one genre.Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Jim
    2018-12-30 17:10

    Bellow's second novel was written shortly after the war when reports of the extermination camps and the war-crime trials of Nuremberg were under way. Bellow doesn't address these topics directly, but his protagonist, Leventhal, finds himself "persecuted" by a fallen, moneyed WASP, and generally surrounded by christians who subtly and not so subtly treat him as a lesser person. Bellow shows great skill in trying to deal with bigotry and anti-Semitism without turning the novel into a political tract. Leventhal has find minor success among the Gentiles, but there is a constant background fear of being cast out or blacklisted by the Christians who control his livelihood.An interesting read for Bellow fans.

  • Ivana
    2019-01-01 23:01

    Who is the victim?...and of what?...even after having finished reading this novel I'm not sure. What I'm sure of is that it is a wonderful novel.I loved the complexity of the protagonist, and the ambiguity of it all...like in life, it's hard to figure out who is guilty and of what. In that sense the novel felt philosophical at times. For the first fifty pages or so, things felt much too simple and the characters stereotyped but the rest of the book was excellent- it more than made up for it. Perhaps that fifty pages are an introduction of some kind...and there's a reason why the introduction is slow( or what could be a good word for it maybe "not revealing")- because it really grabs your attention once the things start to open up. There is not a character that did not feel real by the end of the story, it is like that they gained life with every page. There is something else that I really liked and that's the descriptiveness of the writing. It suited the story. This is the first novel I've read by Saul Bellow, but I doubt it will be the last because from what I've seen he's a very gifted writer.

  • AC
    2019-01-02 19:08

    I ended up skimming a lot of this. Early Bellow does not appeal to me. Too writerly and dull. Never would I have imagined how you would have got from this to Moses Herzog!

  • Matthew
    2019-01-14 20:02

    There are some authors who could write about almost anything and I would follow along quite eagerly. Unfortunately, Saul Bellow is not one of those authors. The victim is a story about Asa Leventhal and his unexpected acquantance, Kirby Albee, who accuses Leventhal of deliberately ruining his life. While the premise was promising, I was disappointed with where it went. The implicit threat that Albee represents is never really carried through, despite the fact that there were myriad oppurtinities for him to cause real harm to Leventhal. At the sime time, I found it extremely difficult to care about Leventhal, who is unbelievably acommodating towards Albee and inexplicably hostile to every one else. His insecurity renders him unable to act, and this might, at least, have made him interesting if it were not for the fact that when he does find the courage to send Albee away, there is not even the slightest suggestion of what changed in him or why. Stylistically, Bellow is as solid as ever. His descriptions are vivid and occasionally even moving. Unfortunately, his dependable writing did not, for me, carry the story and I will have very shortly forgotten The Victim. From a lesser author, I might have thought the book passable, but I expect more from the author of Henderson the Rain King, and I was disappointed.

  • F.R.
    2019-01-01 00:46

    Alienation is the theme here. Yes, we’re also in the realm of existentialism, and without a doubt it’s an examination of polite anti-Semitism after the Second World War, but a sense of alienation is all pervading – and that’s both the book’s triumph and its major flaw. The loneliness of the protagonist, Leventhal, a man who is assailed from all sides and who can’t seem to connect on a meaningful level with anybody (except maybe his wife, who is elsewhere for nearly all of the novel), is beautifully captured. Even though the character’s initial passivity makes it, in the early chapters, a less than welcoming read, we slowly gain an understanding of this man and feel frustrated on his behalf at his inability to connect. Empathy is created and the book slowly turns itself into a page-turner. But it’s also a flaw as a sense of frustration is – let’s be honest – not something you really want from a book. Without a doubt it’s beautifully written, conjuring a version of New York in a summer heat-wave (and a married man alone within it) that’s oppressive and glamour-less and a world away from the contemporaneous ‘The Seven Year Itch’; but it’s an alienating book about an alienated character and whereas it's successful in presenting that alienation, an alienating novel is not one you're ever going to love.

  • Frederick
    2018-12-25 17:46

    Here is what I posted, a few minutes ago, about the novella THE VICTIM is based upon: "THE ETERNAL HUSBAND is the model for Saul Bellow's novel, THE VICTIM. Having read and liked THE VICTIM, I decided to read Dostoevsky's novella. I read it in the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky. Dostoevsky's masterpiece is not only the model for Bellow's book, it is the blueprint. Bellow's genius was to introduce the theme of antisemitism into Dostoevsky's story of a Christian sinner and his Christian nemesis." Before reading THE ETERNAL HUSBAND I posted my review of THE VICTIM. Here it is: While there are many peripheral characters in this, the second of Saul Bellow's published novels, THE VICTIM is essentially a two-character drama. I have a feeling Ed McBain/Evan Hunter got the inspiration for CAPE FEAR from this. (By the way, the novel which became the movie CAPE FEAR has a different title, but it should not be difficult to look up.) Bear in mind, of course, that Bellow is not writing a thriller, but a meditation on antisemitism.Briefly, the plot involves the reappearance in the life of Asa Leventhal, a moderately successful New York businessman, of Kirby Allbee, a man who, years before, at a party, had aimed antisemitic remarks at Leventhal. Allbee is back, accusing Leventhal of deliberately offending a man who gave Leventhal, at Allbee's recommendation, a job interview. Allbee, having been fired from his job after Leventhal's job interview, stalks Leventhal years after the fact, saying Leventhal owes him something. This could have been a Noir thriller. Indeed, it has surface similarities to a lot of potboilers of the era. (This novel was published in 1947.) But Bellow, who, in letters, referred to this as an apprentice work, nevertheless, invests it with an unstinting realism. Leventhal's visits to Staten Island to see his abandoned sister-in-law and his nephews show a world recognizable today, from the simple logistics of travel(you take a train to the Ferry, the Ferry to the dock, then a bus to the stop) to the sense of foreboding one gets walking around a neighborhood which is not your own. In short, Bellow is patient with details and uses them to create a mood.I have not read Dostoevsky's THE ETERNAL HUSBAND, but James Atlas, in his biography of Saul Bellow, points out that it is a source for THE VICTIM. I plan to read it, but I can't think Bellow is not almost as deep as Dostoevsky here.One chapter, placed at just the right spot in this novel, is a set-piece. Chapter 10 consists of Asa Leventhal's accidental encounter with a group of friends and associates as they eat in a cafeteria. He is called over to their table and the reader is treated to a conversation about Benjamin Disraeli, the Yiddish Theater, the movies and the importance, in an actor, of being neither less nor more than human. I think Bellow's model here is the James Joyce of Dubliners. Five different threads of conversation are treated at once, colleagues in creativity are grouped (musicians being the artists in Dubliners, actors being the artists in THE VICTIM.) The chapter could have been removed. Bellow's publisher asked him to remove it, in fact, and Bellow, a la Joyce, wrote back that it was not the publisher's place to insist on that. This is the chapter that makes this a masterpiece. It is a deep book either way, but it is celestial at that juncture. NOTE WRITTEN AFTER FINISHING THE ETERNAL HUSBAND: Even the set-piece in THE VICTIM reflects what amounts to a set-piece in THE ETERNAL HUSBAND. While Dostoevsky's scene advances the plot and the Bellow scene doesn't, both have a discussion of how to be human while producing art -- singing, in Dostoevsky's book and acting in Bellow's -- and both discussions are in scenes in both books showing the protagonist suddenly enjoying himself in lively company. Saul Bellow matched Dostoevsky almost point-for-point in THE VICTIM.less

  • Adrian
    2019-01-20 23:00

    The way Bellow writes, the main character Leventhal is a living breathing sweaty presence as heavy as the New York summer humidity and the un-air-conditioned subway cars that pervade this novel. Bellow writes in a precise, descriptive manner, and the tension rarely flags, so it is difficult to turn away from a character (and thus from the novel itself) who otherwise would be too rancorous and unlikeable to endure.Leventhal is, essentially, angry: at other people who are disloyal or disrespectful to him; at suspected blacklists and the arbitrary spitefulness of those who hire and fire, and thus can squash other men like bugs; at the casual anti-semitism of co-workers and aquaintances; at his own seeming impotence to change any of this. Leventhal, summed up in one line from the novel: "You couldn't say you were master of yourself when there were so many people by whom you could be humiliated."Into this cauldron steps Allbee (all being?), a hobo (essentially) who believes Leventhal has ruined his life. Allbee is Leventhal's nemesis, a walking and talking version of his deepest fears, all his frustrations with the universe embodied in one man. Allbee has no more than a thread of a case when it comes to placing responsibility for his own failures on Leventhal, but Leventhal's character flaws let this thread turn into the solidest of foundations. Leventhal, in short, knows on some level that he himself is responsible for the awfulness of AllBee(ing), if not for the character Allbee in particular. Allbee is just a symptom.This line could almost serve as a description of the tension that lasts through almost the entire book: "It came into his head that he was like a man in a mine who could smell smoke and feel heat but never see the flames."There are only a few spots in the book where this tension dies. In one scene his friend Harkavy invites him to lunch with several older, successful Jewish men. A long discussion of Hollywood actresses ensues. Perhaps the author thought it was amusing. But up to this point it had appeared that Leventhal, who was definitely not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, had had to rely almost exclusively on the goodwill of vaguely anti-semitic wasps for any professional promotion whatsoever. Now it turns out he did indeed have access to connections all along?

  • Kristen
    2019-01-07 20:01

    It was impossible to tell, in starting out, what was going to happen. And it was unfair, perhaps, to have to account at forty for what was done at twenty. But unless one was more than human or less than human, as Mr. Schlossberg put it, the payment had to be met. Leventhal disagreed about “less than human.” Since it was done by so many, what was it but human? “More than human” was for a much smaller number. But most people had fear in them – fear of life, fear of death, of life more than death, perhaps. But it was a fact that they were afraid, and when the fear was uppermost they didn’t want any more burdens. At twenty they had vigor and so were careless, and later they felt too weak to be accountable. They said “Just let me alone, that’s all I ask.” But either they found the strength to meet the costs or they refused and gave way to dizziness – dizziness altogether, the dizziness of pleasures before catastrophes. Maybe you could call it “less than human” to refuse; he liked to think “human” meant accountable in spite of many weaknesses – at the last moment, tough enough to hold. But to go by what happened in the majority of cases, it was the dizziness that was most typical and had the best claim to the name.

  • Duffy Pratt
    2018-12-23 00:08

    Here's a book about New York City in the summer without air conditioning. Spice it up with a touch of guilt and paranoia, then add a liberal helping of anti-semitism, and it makes for a stew that is squalid, dull, and a bit oppressive. I kept waiting for something to happen, something to break the malaise. But it never did, or when it did, nothing followed as a result, if that makes any sense. Bellow's writing is very strong, but not strong enough really to carry off a book filled with vaguely unpleasant people not doing much of anything.

  • Hadrian
    2018-12-26 21:48

    A profoundly disappointing book. I don't even feel enough to vent about it - just apathetic, willing to let it fade out of memory.

  • Frabe
    2019-01-17 19:06

    Secondo romanzo di Bellow (1947), non eccelso ma apprezzabile, con tocchi di classe. Incipit:Ci son notti in cui New York è calda come Bangkok. Come se l'intero continente si fosse spostato, fosse scivolato verso l'equatore, come se il grigio e cupo Atlantico si fosse tinto d'un verde tropicale e la gente per le strade fosse una folla scalmanata di fellah formicolanti tra gli stupendi monumenti del loro mistero che, con abbagliante profusione, spargono le loro luci nell'afa notturna senza interruzioni.Un passo (unico, arbitrariamente diviso in tre):Non puoi trovar posto per tutto nei tuoi sentimenti, o cedere alla pressione di ogni spinta come una porta girevole, la stessa per tutti, con gente che vi entra o ne esce a suo piacere.D'altro canto, se ti chiudi in te per paura di essere disturbato, allora diventi un orso nella sua tana d'inverno, o uno specchio avvolto negli stracci. E, come quello specchio, corri minor rischio di spaccarti, ma non puoi neanche splendere.E invece devi splendere. È qui il punto strano. Tutti vogliono essere ciò che sono fino in fondo. Se ti guardi attorno, è la cosa che più salta agli occhi. Nelle grandi imprese come nei delitti e nel vizio.

  • Chiara Pagliochini
    2018-12-30 22:47

    3,5Asa Leventhal è un ebreo che vive a New York, socialmente ed economicamente ben piazzato. Quando la moglie lo lascia per trascorrere qualche settimana fuori città, Asa comincia ad avvertire una schiacciante sensazione di pesantezza e solitudine. Ad aggravare il tutto subentrano complicazioni di salute del nipotino Mickey e gli allarmismi della cognata Elena, che in assenza del fratello Max ricadono sulle sue spalle. Ma, giacché l’abitudine ci insegna che se qualcosa va male potrà andare solo peggio, Asa viene anche avvicinato da Albee, un suo vecchio conoscente caduto in disgrazia. Albee accusa Leventhal di avergli fatto perdere il lavoro anni addietro e di essere stato l’indiretta causa della morte di sua moglie, da cui all’epoca si separò. Inizialmente Asa respinge le accuse, crede che Albee sia pazzo, lo prende per un ubriacone e uno stalker (diremmo noi). Solo in seguito comincia a sospettare che l’accusa sia più fondata di quanto non sembri. Certo, non era consapevole di aver rovinato Albee, se è accaduto l’ha fatto involontariamente, ma questo non lo esclude da ogni responsabilità. Un comune amico, interrogato sui fatti, dà ragione ad Albee. Tuttavia Asa non si persuade di essere colpevole, o almeno non colpevole di tutto ciò di cui è accusato. Qualsiasi cosa dica o faccia, non riesce a togliersi Albee di torno, tanto che alla fine è costretto a sovvenzionarlo finanziariamente e addirittura ad accoglierlo in casa propria. Aggiungiamo al tutto una propensione all’antisemitismo da parte di Albee e una pungente sofferenza di Asa alla questione antisemita e avremo creato una bomba a orologeria. Il romanzo è ben scritto, contiene ottimi spunti, si presta a molte interpretazioni. Non per questo mi ha entusiasmata o presa particolarmente. È un romanzo interessante, possiamo dire, ma che definire piacevole sarebbe eccessivo. Tema portante dell’opera è il rapporto tra vittima e carnefice, ambiguo fin dal titolo. Nel nostro caso, chi è la vittima e chi il carnefice? È Asa il perseguitato e Albee il persecutore oppure è l’opposto? Bellow non offre una risposta al quesito. Certe volte sospettiamo che Asa sia un paranoico e Albee solo uno sfortunato che non ha più niente da perdere. Un’altra volta condividiamo la rabbia di Asa e la sua insofferenza alla persecuzione. Ma chi sia vittima e chi carnefice non è chiaro affatto, perché i ruoli si scambiano di continuo. Personalmente, verso la fine, mi sono trovata a tifare per Albee, giacché il personaggio di Asa è così meschinamente umano che verrebbe voglia di prenderlo a testate. Altra tematica di rilevanza sociale è il rapporto tra ricchi e poveri. A livello teorico, dice Asa, il rapporto tra le due categorie è semplice: il povero rimprovera il ricco perché, per fortuna o abilità, questo possiede ciò che a lui manca. Ma il povero non rimprovera un ricco specifico: il povero si rivolge alla categoria “uomini ricchi” ed esprime la sua condanna senza una mira precisa. Una relazione diretta tra le due componenti, sostiene Asa, è impensabile quanto assurda. Come devo comportarmi io, uomo ricco, se un uomo povero bussa alla mia porta e accusa me, me nello specifico, me come singolo, di togliergli qualcosa? Cosa posso fare per lui? Come aiutarlo? Come capire se l’accusa che egli mi rivolge è fondata? E questo è proprio ciò che getta Asa nel pallone. C’è poi la questione del rapporto tra persecuzione e antisemitismo. Siamo nel 1947 e Bellow, proprio come Asa, è un ebreo americano, che non ha conosciuto le persecuzioni naziste. Mentre il loro popolo soffriva e veniva sterminato nei campi di concentramento, Asa e Bellow se ne stavano al sicuro in terra statunitense. Questa “non partecipazione” alla Shoa ha lasciato, negli Ebrei d’America, conseguenze psicologiche di vasta portata e, principalmente, un senso di colpa, il dolore per non aver condiviso la sorte del proprio popolo, un dolore che è anche sollievo, certo, ma che in quanto senso di colpa ha bisogno di essere espiato. Ed ecco così che Asa diventa lui vittima di una persecuzione personale, tutta sua, meno grave ma parallela a quella degli Ebrei d’Europa. È il suo stesso senso di colpa che lo rende particolarmente suscettibile alle battute antisemite di Albee. Albee si esprime per luoghi comuni, niente che possa essere davvero offensivo, ma Asa ne risente in modo traumatico. A metà romanzo lo vediamo esclamare:“Non vedo come puoi parlare in questo modo. Dici tanto per dire. Milioni di noi sono stati uccisi. Come la mettiamo con questo?”È l’unico riferimento alla Shoa in un libro scritto da un ebreo nel 1947. Milioni di noi sono stati uccisi. Quanta paura e quanta reticenza, quanta omissione di coscienza si annidano in una semplice frase, buttata là, una frase quasi involontaria. The Victim è tutto questo e molto di più (la mia ignoranza sulla questione ebraica merita sicuramente un approfondimento). Interessante, ripeto, ma non uno di quei romanzi che ti prende e ti resta nel cuore.

  • Jim Leckband
    2019-01-13 17:07

    "The Victim" is early Bellow and I miss the exuberance of character that explodes in his later novels. The plots of his novels are never anything special and the writing itself is not great enough (though very good). One discovery to me of his recent biographies is that Bellow found a lot of his novels in his life. So it is it not even "invention" that we get out of Bellow.It is character we read Bellow for. The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, Humboldt's Gift and so on. The main protagonist of "The Victim" is Abe Leventhal, and he is a surprisingly lifeless character - a victim of his own indeterminacy. He is victimized by Kirby Allbee, a drunk Caliban that at least spurs Leventhal into doing something.I believe there was an attempt of a correspondence between Leventhal/Allbee (a Jew and a gentile) to the recent Holocaust in the novel. Allbee is forever making comments about "you people" and so on, and Leventhal just seems to soak it up. The fact that Allbee seems to be victimized by an act of Leventhal that only a narcissist would think was intentional, seems correlated to the Nazis absurd feeling of victimization by the Jews. But as a whole, the construct just isn't convincing as I didn't believe Leventhal would be such a patsy. Maybe that was Bellow's point - don't be a patsy to bullies.The character of Allbee is closest to the characters Bellow later created, however distinctly unsympathetic. Bellow's later main characters were flawed but never to the extent of Allbee.

  • Tyler
    2018-12-31 21:49

    For the same reasons I liked Mr. Sammler's Planet and Seize the Day, I like this earlier novel of Saul Bellow’s, too. Each is a thinking novel, and each imprints Bellow’s distinctive touch.The plot centers on the fallout from a job interview. The hero, Asa Leventhal, is beset by a man who lost his job because of something Leventhal once did during an interview. Leventhal had no idea this would happen. He looks back on that interview one way. But as he asks around, he discovers that other people look at his actions that day much differently. Who’s right? What should be done about it now?In a Bellow trademark, the protagonist thinks through the implications of his acts:In Leventhal’s mind, this was not even a true injustice, for how could you call anything so haphazard an injustice? It was a shuffle, all, all accidental and haphazard. And somewhere, besides, there was a wrong emphasis.The story totes up the moral reckoning we all do randomly each day. But the book isn’t just about that; it has plot and color as well – specifically, New-York-in-the-forties color. And in this early work, too, it’s that crisp, clean American style that sets the book apart. I have yet to read a boring page written by Saul Bellow. The Victim is an engaging novel.

  • Emily
    2018-12-30 00:54

    Every sentence in this 1947 novel by Saul Bellow is rich and worth savoring. As I was following the plot I kept wanting to slow down and read whole paragraphs over again. The setting is so much a part of the tone of the character Leventhal's state of mind. Most of the time it is a stifling NYC August without air conditioning. I really don't know how people survived from the descriptions in this book. Leventhal is an interesting main character. He is very average. His nemesis is a man named Albee who is equally uninteresting on the surface. But the game that is played out is quite captivating. Lovely deep conversations pulsating with arguments and trying to find fundamental truths of being human were my favorite parts to read. Bellow's novel is intelligent and thought provoking. The climax is swift cutting the relationship between the two men like a knife. The conclusion is a little rushed is the only reason I did not give it five stars.

  • Philip Lane
    2019-01-20 23:54

    I loved this though I can see it is not the most pleasant reading. It felt to me like a very humdrum realistic version of Kafka. Leventhall has a very ordinary life in New York but starts to feel things becoming too much as his wife has left for a few weeks, he is called on to help out with a sick nephew and an acquaintance starts to blame him for losing his job. It has happened to me when problems have cropped up in my private life and my professional life at the same time. It all starts getting out of hand and paranoia starts to set in. I found it easy to read and could associate with Leventhall. We see into his thought processes and I was rooting for him. There is a dramatic climax and a bit of a twist at the end.

  • Paul
    2019-01-22 21:55

    What a crazy, weird book. I absolutely flew through this, because I'd been meaning to read it forever, and had started a while back and put it down, so I basically just caught the main plotlines and characters and missed a lot of the intricacies, though it seems a fairly simple book. But what an intriguing setup! Has that kind of Kafkaesque inevitability to it. But yeah, the protag/antag setup was just so interesting, nothing I've really read before. Totally a unique book, while also being just a straightforward narrative. Mostly just a great story, I guess. Will have to read it again some day.

  • Chuybacca
    2019-01-21 21:02

    As I was reading this book, I enjoyed the writing and was intrigued by the progression of events. However, once I finished it, I didn't grasp the whole of the book. I felt disappointed. But then I realized that I couldn't stop thinking about it. I think everyone can think of a time in their life, even to a minor extent, when they could relate to Leventhal and understand the inner torment and paranoia that he goes through. What would you do if a stranger outrageously accused you of ruining his life? What if you began to think that he was right?

  • Albert
    2019-01-11 18:04

    Saul Bellow is a clear-thinking, all-seeing, foot-in-the-Classics big male American writer. The book is a little noir-ish, but most of the interesting stuff is internal -- digressions, flashbacks, arguments, paranoia. Reading this is like being with an incredibly erudite being who is forced to live on earth.As a way into Bellow, this is your best bet. I feel his later work is an exaggeration of the internal stuff I named above.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-01-04 22:52

    Yet another literary plot which would've been nullified by the existence of air conditioning.Bellow's muscular rpose was as strident as ever. My wife read this a few years ago and pointed out how Edward Albee's Zoo Story has a similar plot device: oh, the antagonist is also named Allbee in Bellow's novel.

  • Lin
    2019-01-20 20:44

    While the book was not a bad read, it didnt succeed in holding my attention too well. I had to continuously make myself read it, which is not really a positive judgement to make on a book.

  • Nathan
    2019-01-07 20:49

    feels like Bellow wrote this in a week, in a good way, like because he's a genius or something.

  • Bob Newman
    2018-12-23 22:58

    the rise and fall of ambivalenceAsa Leventhal's wife is out of town. He's on his own. He works on a trade magazine in Manhattan and he's pretty secure there. But some time ago, when he was out of work, he went to ask for a job on a different magazine. A friend of a friend had recommended him. This second man, Allbee, had made some very anti-Semitic remarks at a party that Asa attended. At the interview, the boss dismissed Asa rudely. Asa became aggressive and told him off. Subsequently, Allbee lost his job and blamed Asa's behavior for the loss. But he was an alcoholic and rather unstable. A couple of years later, Allbee suddenly turns up, looking very seedy, and demands reparations. At the same time, Asa's nephew is sick and probably dying--a kid who lives on Staten Island. The father, Asa's brother, is down in Texas working. The mother is suspicious of hospitals and doesn't bring the kid there till it's quite late. Is she mentally unstable? Asa's mother had died in a mental institution. Allbee claims to be a victim, but he behaves like the Old Man of the Sea in the story of Sinbad. Asa can't get shed of him. The kid is definitely a victim. You can see that Asa could be a victim too. He isn't sure whether Allbee has a point or not. "Illness, madness, and death were forcing him to confront his fault" if he actually were at fault. He asks two friends, but they give very ambivalent answers or don't see his dilemma. In another of his novels of question and introspection, Bellow creates a masterpiece of subtle, varying emotion. The characters (at this particular point in their lives) are full of ambivalence, but harbor strong feelings nevertheless. THE VICTIM is a rich stew of philosophy and wondering in a most mundane story. There is no sex or violence, yet the story grips you. What about repentance and the wavering probability of change? Should you repent for something which you feel was not your fault? What do others think of your behavior? Should you be concerned about this? In Bellow's novels nothing has sharp edges. In the end, was all that doubt necessary? Brilliant.

  • Xenia Germeni
    2019-01-15 21:06

    Διάλεξα να διαβάσω Bellow γιατί τα γενέθλιά του συμπίπτουν με τα δικά μου. Ίσως και γιατί μετά από καιρό έφτασε η ώρα του...Το Θύμα είναι ένα σκοτεινό βιβλίο που εξελίσσεται στη Νέα Υόρκη με καύσωνα. Όλα φαινομενικά -κυρίως στο οπισθόφυλλο- έδειχναν να είναι απλά και όχι βασανιστικά. Κι όμως ο Bellow είχε άλλη άποψη, και μάλιστα παρα λίγο να με δυσκολέψει. Κι όμως απλά ο αναγνώστης πρέπει να βυθιστεί στο σκοτάδι και την ιστορία των ηρώων του Bellow. Η νουαρ περιγραφή της Νέας Υόρκης, ο Λέβενταλ, ο Όλμπι, ο άρρωστος ανιψιός, τα διαμερίσματα, οι περιγραφές των χαρακτηριστικών, οι ανάσες, οι εκφράσεις, οι ήχοι, τα συναισθήματα...όλα μα όλα είναι μελετημένα στην εντέλεια. Μέσα σε αυτό το πλαίσιο εντάσσεται και ο φιλοσοφικός στοχασμός, που διατρέχει ολόκληρο το κείμενο. Η έννοια της ύπαρξης και της αγωνίας. Θα τολμούσα να χρησιμοποιήσω το φιλοσοφικό όρο του ορόδοξου υπαρξιστή (αφού κινείται μέσα στα πλαίσια της αφήγησης και του προβληματισμού του Ντοστογιέφσκι), ωστόσο ο Bellow πάει ένα βήμα πιο μπροστά, καταφέρνοντας να μιλήσει για την ανθρώπινη κατάσταση του "σύγχρονου ανθρώπου" μέσα από πολύ απλούς και χειροπιαστούς ήρωες. Στο Θύμα ο Λεβενταλ, καταφέρνει να "θυματοποιήσει" ο ίδιος τον εαυτό του, μέσα από μια σειρά πράξεων, παραλείψεων, προσωπικών εμμονών και άγχους. Ακόμη και στο τέλος του βιβλίου αναρωτιέται : "Μισό λεπτό, ποιός νομίζεις ότι ρυθμίζει τα πράγματα ; ".

  • Gina Andrews
    2018-12-28 22:06

    A man, Asa Leventhal, meets an old acquaintance in a park in New York City. Kirby Allbee accuses Leventhal of ruining him by getting him fired. Leventhal denies this, but that doesn't put Allbee off. Allbee continues to make a pest of himself as Leventhal deals with a family crisis.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-20 19:48

    a little flat

  • Todd Zack
    2019-01-09 22:00

    Here we go. Leventhal IS Allbee (I'll be). You'll notice that Leventhal are never seen together, except near the end of the novel by Leventhals brother, Max (whom we are told he hardly ever see's and has a week relationship with). Leventhal is also Max. Therefore Max's children are really Leventhal's children. Max's wife is Leventhal's wife (ex-wife actually). The young boy who dies from an illness is Leventhal's own child. Look at what's happening here in this novel. When Leventhal first meets Allbee, we understand that both of their wives are not with them. Here is the first hint-Allbee (I'll be) is Leventhal's unconscious self, or his 'guilt complex'. Maria, Leventhal's wife, who is away visiting her mother, doesn't actually exist. She is a fantasy figure, perhaps the memory of an ex-girlfriend (the one who is alluded to at the very beginning of the novel). Leventhal is alone. Leventhal is in the process of becoming Allbee throughout the duration of the novel. One might say, "This can't be so, because other characters refer to Allbee as a differentiated person throughout the novel."But, this isn't so. Observe the aura of uncertainty, the ephemeral menace that's hang's over these scenes where Allbee is discussed. The characters (Williston ect) who discuss Allbee with Leventhal understand that when they are speaking about Allbee to Leventhal, they are talking to Leventhal about LEVENTHAL.Near the end of the novel, Leventhal gets drunk at a party. Nobody seems to find it odd that he throws back 4 glasses of wine in brunt succession and then proceeds to drink himself at a more leisurely pace into an abject blackout; thereafter spending the night at the home of his host. This is something Allbee would do, but certainly not Leventhal?Why does Leventhal feel such responsibility for Max's children? Why does Elena and her mother so dislike Leventhal when he, not Max, is the one taking care of the family during the childs illness?Because Leventhal IS Max, and Leventhal initially left the family to become a paranoid drunk...whose alter ego is Allbee (I'll be).After the final confrontation ('a suicide pact without my permission') we find Leventhal 3 years later with a pregnant wife, Maria.There is a final meeting with Allbee that only covers three or so pages of text. These three pages and the proceeding five if read carefully should make this much clear: Leventhal was a suicidal guilt ridden alcoholic who left his family. Allbee was his guilt complex, and his disease of alcoholism manifest as a split-personality. Maria, his wife, never existed until he banished Allbee 'I'll bee' from his life?The postcards from his 'wife' that Allbee found in Leventhal's bathrobe? Those weren't from Maria, but from the girlfriend that Leventhal admits to beating in an early chapter of the novel.Superb book. Very creepy and Kafkaesque.

  • PurringM
    2018-12-31 19:52

    Аса Левенталь, обычный офисный работник, у которого есть несправедливое начальство, жена в командировке, трусливый брат, невежественная жена брата и грызущий его изнутри еврейский вопрос, как-то днём идёт в парк и натыкается на старого знакомого Олби, который однажды в его присутствии нехорошо пошутил про евреев. Олби уверен, что после той его шутки Левенталь ему и отомстил: Олби теперь не берут ни на какую работу, жена умерла, все отвернулись и во всём этом виноват, конечно, Аса. Дальше история начнёт раскручиваться инфернальными кругами: Олби будет постепенно захватывать жизнь Левенталя, роясь по ящикам в его доме, преследуя, обвиняя и вытесняя примерно весь воздух, которым Левенталь когда-либо дышал.Аллюзия очевидна, но отличительная черта книги в том, что Левенталь не святой: он довольно противный еврей, готовый накинуться на другого человека, стоит ему заподозрить, что тот его не любит из-за его национальности. Он путается, оправдывается и бежит от ответственности, сам не понимая, где он жертва, а где тиран. И чтобы не стать последним, он до последнего избегает любых решительных действий, даже если ситуация напрямую связана с жизнями его близких. Здесь также будет итальянский фашизм, про который обычно все забывают и который нанёс непоправимый вред самому себе, здесь будут сплошь персонажи-конструкты, которым сложно сочувствовать, а ещё здесь будет Олби. Невероятной силы персонаж Олби, от которого страшно хочется отмыться и прямо из душа выйти в окно. Олби, куски про которого невозможно читать, но невозможно и не читать: он тянется за тобой, как тянучка, напоминая, что ещё ничего не кончилось. Олби, который считает себя жертвой, но сделает своей жертвой кого угодно."Жертва" же, конечно, название-перевёртыш, применимое здесь примерно ко всем: к Олби, который действительно стал жертвой — собственной жертвой, к брату Левенталя и его сыновьям — жертвам домашнего (итальянского) фашизма, и, конечно, к самому Левенталю."Жертву" я читала в качестве книги-на-ночь, и когда вчера вечером я поняла, что меня под подушкой ждёт это, я буквально ощутила огромное чёрное отчаяние, а потом залпом прочитала её всю — чтобы больше не чувствовать этого. Этот текст — огромная чёрная воронка, поглощающая не какими-то зверствами, а именно ужасом бытового фашизма. От которого невозможно сбежать, куда бы ты ни спрятался.