Humboldt's Gift

  • by Saul Bellow
  • Narrated by Christopher Hurt
  • 18 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For years, they were the best of friends: the grand, erratic Humboldt and the ambitious young Charlie. But now Humboldt has died a failure, and Charlie's success-ridden life has taken various turns for the worse. Then Humboldt acts from the grave to change Charlie's life: he has left Charlie something in his will.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Book, Great Reader

This is a wonderful and compelling reading of a very good book: one that would be very easy to ruin with an unintelligent interpretation.

No, there is not a lot of "plot" per se and it is highly discursive: welcome to Bellow's world! There's a passage of several pages where Charlie considers the subject of productive inactivity from every possible angle, which struck me as almost a manifesto for the technique of the novel itself. Events in the outside world mainly serve to prompt ruminating, reflecting, and reminiscing.

But make no mistake: there is in fact a story, it features great, colorful characters, it's told in beautiful language, and it's very entertaining all the way through. It made me laugh out loud all the time. And finally, countless little plot threads that have meandered through the text for hours all get neatly tied up into a satisfying screwball ending.

But the book is not really about the destination. It's about the journey. The book is drenched with warm-hearted nostalgia, and a comprehensive generosity of spirit that is hard to find anywhere in the world, at any time. Charlie Citrine makes the world a bigger and friendlier place to be.

And again, this reader is probably the best possible reader they could have chosen for the part. I plan to give this book a second and third listen in the future. This definitely ranks up there with Ron Silver's reading of American Pastoral, George Guidall's reading of Zorba the Greek, and Donal Donelly's reading of Dubliners as one of the best audiobook performances I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
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- Scott

Rotten Audio Quality, Poorly Read

Herzog! Bam! Henderson the Rain King! Bam! The Victim! Bam! The Adventures of Augie March! Bam!

I seem to have fallen into a Saul Bellow groove. I've enjoyed (Very good to Great) every audio title until this one. I wasn't crazy about the narration but the reader is supposed to be jaded and snarky so I'll give Hurt a pass though I believe much of the Bellow philosophy of life is lost in the monotonous delivery.

I don't think this is Bellow's best but it's still got plenty of meat and a lot of it very tender and delicious near the ample bone. There's a bit of fat and a vein of gristle that makes the book a little dated---it's destined to be a period piece.

The biggest complaint is the awful, tin can like audio quality. I tried all the formats and it made no difference. I thought my ear buds were failing so I got new ones. This book just has lousy sound. If there was another version, read by someone else, I'd ask Audible for a credit. But, alas, there isn't and I may come back to this again so I'll keep it.

I wouldn't recommend it to you.

Chris Reich, The Business Physicist
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- Chris Reich

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-27-2007
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.