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The Actual Paperback – 27 Jun 1998


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Paperback, 27 Jun 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (27 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140253033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140253030
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,168,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A mature distillation of Mr. Bellow's work . . . a gem." -"The New York Times" " The work of a great master still locked in unequal combat with Eros and Time."-"The New York Times Book Review" " [A] wonderful book . . . fully worthy of a place in its author's vastly esteemed oeuvre."-"Chicago Tribune" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Saul Bellow’s dazzling career has been marked with numerous literary prizes, including the 1976 Nobel Prize, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. His work includes Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, Mr Sammler's Planet, Seize The Day and the essay To Jerusalem and Back. He died in 2005. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. J. Walsh on 23 July 2007
Format: Paperback
Harry Trellman is the narrator and the story is essentially one of recuperating a long lost love, of making amends over lost opportunities. In between the reader is introduced to various characters from a morally dubious world and is treated to various wry observations from Harry.

As others have already pointed out, not much happens in this novella. It's the first work I have read by Bellow and really isn't the best introduction. The narrative is clevery woven together and it is well written. However, upon finishing it, one is left with the distinct impression that there really was not much point to it.

There are a few glimpses which suggest a far more interesting novel could have been written if it had been fleshed out a little more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Aug 1997
Format: Hardcover
Although Bellow (as usual) manages to navigate a perfect course through the nebulous region between material, modern life and the life of the mind, he leaves us with what I thought was a curious, romantic ending. Ironic as a wedding proposal at an ex's disinterment may be, I'm not sure how Trellman was finally able to participate outwardly in the emotional world he seemed able only to observe and catalog. There's certainly some value in understanding the meaning of this final puzzle in what is a rich, engaging read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phil O'Sofa on 11 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback
My Penguin edition of this short novel has a quote on the cover from some Daily Telegraph reviewer telling us that this is 'an apoplectically funny book'. I don't know how the poor fellow gets through his days - he must spend all his time creased over with mirth if he found this so hilarious. Presumably he has to avoid anything remotely close to comedy for fear of laughing his head off.

I don't think I've ever read a book I'd describe as 'apoplectically funny', and if I have it certainly isn't this one. This little tale about nothing much - a sort of reminiscence by a man getting on in years about a lost love - is mildly amusing in places, and really that's about it. There's no plot as such, and not much of a story - the funeral of a mutual friend brings Harry together with his old flame Amy, the only woman he ever loved. They talk.

Bellow writes well as always, but this is pretty lightweight stuff - rambling and repetitive and even then only a hundred pages. It would never have been published if he wasn't an established writer. If you want Bellow at his best, try 'Herzog'.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Aug 1997
Format: Hardcover
In The Actual, Bellow touches on the major intellectual themes of the late twentieth century: materialism, capitalism, existentialism, nihilism, and postmodernism. Bellow once again, consciously or unconsciously, tells a great story placed in the philosophic world of actuality, where the individual, the particular, the personal triumphs over modernism's desire to subsume the part into the whole. Bellow uses the romantic genre to discuss these themes while flashing the caution light of pragmatism. A pragmatism that says existentialism can be nihilism, materialism creates numbness, captialism demands consumption, and love becomes a carnival unless anchored in the heart and objectified in an "other".
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By A Customer on 2 July 1998
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to be able to sit down and read this book last night, but found myself an hour later with the book finished before I felt that it had started. There were a few good lines, but nothing that made me want to stop and reflect. It would have made a good first section of a novel, but the characters never developed enough for my taste.
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