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Mr Sammler's Planet (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Saul Bellow , Stanley Crouch
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 Oct 2007 Penguin Modern Classics
Mr. Artur Sammler, Holocaust survivor, intellectual, and occasional lecturer at Columbia University in 1960s New York City, is a "registrar of madness," a refined and civilized being caught among people crazy with the promises of the future (moon landings, endless possibilities). His Cyclopean gaze reflects on the degradations of city life while looking deep into the sufferings of the human soul. "Sorry for all and sore at heart," he observes how greater luxury and leisure have only led to more human suffering. To Mr. Sammler-who by the end of this ferociously unsentimental novel has found the compassionate consciousness necessary to bridge the gap between himself and his fellow beings-a good life is one in which a person does what is "required of him." To know and to meet the "terms of the contract" was as true a life as one could live.

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Mr Sammler's Planet (Penguin Modern Classics) + Humboldt's Gift + Henderson the Rain King (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (25 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188812
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


?Bellow's oeuvre is both timeless and ruthlessly contemporary.? (Bryan Appleyard, "Sunday Times", London) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Saul Bellow's dazzling career as a novelist has been marked with numerous literary prizes, including the 1976 Nobel Prize, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. His other books include The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, Mr Sammler's Planet, Seize The Day and The Victim. Saul Bellow died in 2005.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Though few readers and critics would care to argue on the quality of Bellow's `The Adventures of Augie March' or `Humboldt's Gift', `Mr. Sammler's Planet' is a text which inspires much more disagreement. The novel's focus is the experiences of Artur Sammler, a Holocaust survivor living in the liberal New York of the late 1960s. Unable to escape his memories of the old world, and to find any comfort in the Jewish faith, Sammler lives with one foot in New York and one in wartime Poland, a character both highly intellectual and erudite, but also hugely frustrated and confused. Sammler appears to work as a mouthpiece for Bellow, and nearly every opinion we get in the novel is Sammler's, to a point where the narration seems almost first person. Sammler's reactionary tone, which is generally agreed to also be that of Bellow in this novel, has provided derision and frustration from many critics, who see Bellow's depiction of the Columbia students to be over-exaggerated and insulting, and the same of both the promiscuous Angela, and the Black thief, who is portrayed by Bellow as animalistic and purely physical. These portrayals, which have frustrated the majority of readers are an obstacle, but by no means destroy what is a fascinating and often illuminating novel.

From Sammler's recollection of an act of retribution in his escape from Auschwitz, to Wallace's lunar dreams and Sammler's struggle to unpack his own guilt, provide hugely thought provoking moments, often written with a beautiful, sparse language, and evoke some of the biggest questions and issues of the ouvre of an author known for his challenging of major themes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more of an essay than a novel 17 Oct 2010
Bellow's earlier work - Augie March, Henderson the Rain King and Herzog - shows that he was one of the great novelists of our time. This book, however, is more of an essay than a novel. Written at the time of the US moon-shot, Artur Sammler reflects on his planet at the time of a giant new step for mankind. He lives in a decaying New York and he is a Holocaust survivor. So his report on his planet is not great - though he does recognise that things weren't great at the time of Julius Caesar either.

Sammler's benefactor is dying; his benefactor's children are ungrateful; Sammler himself has troubles with a pickpocket, and with his daughter and son-in-law. He reflects quite a bit on HG Wells and his world view. And on Meister Eckhardt, whom he is reading and with whom alone he feels an intellectual affinity. He stops to have a very long intellectual conversation in which he sums up his view of life in Chapter 5.

This is not without interest - but at the end of the day, more of an essay than a novel - and a book that is very much of its time.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Jewish Masterpiece 19 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Three days of the life of a seventy-odd-year-old Polish Jew in New York. He is going to witness everyday life in New York, recollect his life in England where he was a university professor up to 1939, remember his moving back to Poland in 1939 to solve some family inheritance, his being caught by the Germans with his wife and a great number of other Jews (one year after the Crystal Night, which makes it crazy of him to have gone back), being blinded in one eye by a German rifle butt, forced to dig their mass grave, lined up in front of it, shot and pushed into the grave, covered up with earth and then his crawling out of it, joining the partisans in some forest, escaping their anti-Jewish purification at the end of the war by surviving in a Polish vault in a cemetery, and finally his being sheltered in the Salzburg Displaced Persons Camp and recuperated from there by some cousin, a rich doctor in New York. With only one good eye he is going to live, see and observe life and become the gathering mind of western culture while filtering his vision through it. Thus he will refer to some one-hundred-and-sixty authors, philosophers, artists and works of art in these three days. One will emerge very strong, H.G. Wells whom he had known personally in the late 1930s and whose theories on the Moon he will reminisce and cross with the theories of an Indian scientist, Govinda Lal, who is technically thinking the migration of humanity towards other planets. He will observe the other members of his family. Read more ›
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A highwayscribery Book Report 14 Dec 2010
"Mr. Sammler's Planet," makes the case for sticking with an author's big hits before delving into their more exotic offerings.

Saul Bellow, of course, is/was a famous writer whose big triumphs were "The Adventures of Augie March" and "Herzog."

highwayscribery decided upon "Mr. Sammler's Planet," thanks to its being mentioned in a column by David Brooks of the "New York Times."

In "Children of the '70s," Brooks sought to put a damper on recent enthusiasms for 1970s New York as a dangerous, but freewheeling and artistically sympathetic urban landscape that, on balance, was much better than the white flight and capital disinvestment that characterized it.

highwayscribery, who grew up in that New York, indulged just such a flight of fancy in his post memorializing the recently deceased downtown poet, Jim Carroll.

Brooks noted in his piece that, when the city tried slum clearance on the upper West Side, "Crime did not abate. Passivity set in, the sense that nothing could be done. The novel, 'Mr. Sammler's Planet,' by Saul Bellow captured some of the dispirited atmosphere of that era -- the sense that New York City was a place of no-go zones, a place where one hunkered down."


"Mr. Sammler's Planet," to the extent that it is about anything, fleshes out the post-Holocaust relationships between Jewish folk in New York: their mutual aid toward one another and the friendships forged by their unique and tragic recent history.

It is, briefly, about a pick-pocket Sammler watches and with whom he later experiences an unfortunate encounter. It is about the pending death of a close friend and benefactor.
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