2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Possibly not the best Bellow to start with,
This review is from: Mr Sammler's Planet (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is the first novel by Bellow which I've tackled.
I singled it out from the others because the basic subject matter seemed the most approachable of any of the novels.
I found the book a bit of a struggle. For one things there are many difficult but beautiful passages describing the main character's thoughts. These reminded me of Robert Musil in The Man Without Qualities - a book which I never finished. These passages are there to illustrate Sammler's high intelligence but they can be overwhelming.
There is social criticism in the book early on, embedded within Sammler's thoughts. Especially early in the book, this social thinking seems to foreshadow, say, the editorial line of City Journal or the approach that would be put into practice by Mayor Giuliani. Interesting to come across that line of thought from a book published in 1970.
I like books with a strong sense of time and place. I did not quite get enough of that sense from this.
Bellow clearly has a masterly ability to weave characters and themes together. So I finished the book with a great respect for him but with the nagging feeling that I'd started in the wrong place.
It is possible that a second reading of the novel would bring it to life so I hesitate to give it less than 5 stars.