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Extended Audio Sample Humboldt’s Gift Audiobook, by Saul Bellow Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,408 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Saul Bellow Narrator: Christopher Hurt Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2007 ISBN: 9781455170265
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For years, they were the best of friends: Humboldt, a grand, erratic figure, and Charlie, a young man of frenzied and noble longings. But by the 1970s, 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 by leaving him something in his will.

Now Charlie is middle-aged and his days are cluttered with comic absurdities. A thinker, he longs to come from left field and knock them all dead. But his ex-wife has him enmeshed in lawsuits; he is held in thrall by a sexually-beguiling but unsuitable young woman; he has fallen into the hands of a neurotic mafioso; and his career seems to have ground to a halt. How the gentle but resilient Charlie comes to know how to triumph over his ever more ridiculous tribulations is the great discovery of Humboldt’s Gift.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A crazy mess of a novel and an abiding testament to the vital exuberance of Saul Bellow’s genius…Life bursts from the page.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Sharp, erudite, beautifully measured…[Bellow] is one of the most gifted chroniclers of the Western world.”

    Times (London)

  • “Bellow at his best…funny, vibrant, ironic, self-mocking, and wise, a thoroughly delightful novel on every score.”

    San Francisco Examiner

  • “This production is exceedingly well narrated by Christopher Hurt, whose narrator’s voice conveys the various moods of the main character, Charles Citrine, an aging Lothario, battling the aging process and his writer’s block.”

    AudioFile

  • “[Hurt’s] expression and inflection and his congenial voice make this book easy to listen to.”

    Kliatt

  • “Energized chaos…The novel sprawls in picaresque fashion.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Christopher Hurt’s reading of Humboldt’s Gift is close to perfection, and he deserves an award for his splendid performance. Listening to this recorded book enhances our appreciation of this masterpiece.”

    Allan Chavkin, Southwest Texas State University

  • Winner of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 1976 National Book Award Finalist
  • A 1975 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt Dietrich | 2/8/2014

    " Chicago is as much the protagonist of this story as is Saul Bellow's semi-autobiographical narrator, a successful writer whose multiple marriages are slowly depleting the trappings of his success. A great introduction to Bellow's work, "Humboldt's Gift" will have extra appeal for those with Chicago roots, who will appreciate his presentation of that city circa the early 1970s. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rianna | 2/5/2014

    " eh, it was ok. Yada yada, life sucks sometimes and all that, uh huh. It evoked my frustration at the main character so I guess it deserves something for that. However several times I fell asleep reading it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Justin | 2/2/2014

    " The main character is from Appleton, Wisconsin. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roxanne Russell | 1/20/2014

    " I enjoyed this story the same way I enjoy Dave Eggers- the absurdity of the narrator is both entertaining and my inner monologue familiar. The narrator is a Pulitzer Prize winner plus and his mentor is a manic depressive poet. The plot covers only a short period of contemporary time but relies on much reflection to times with the poet Humboldt in the past. A debt-ridden, business dealing, easy target for rip-off artists, Charles Citrine ponders his way through some strange and self-inflicted tortures. A very interesting character and great read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tea Coopz | 1/18/2014

    " I loved this book. I think it's especially enjoyable if you're a writer. Being from the suburbs of Chicago probably helped the book be more relatable than it might otherwise have been. I found the book to be both smart and funny, a great piece of social and literary criticism. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 1/17/2014

    " Book wasn't too bad...just not the type of book I really enjoy reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeff | 1/15/2014

    " It is brilliant in the parts where I can see it -- and most likely brilliant in the parts where I cannot. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mike | 1/14/2014

    " I need to create a shelf titled "didn't finish" because I just couldn't do it. Yeah yeah, "you just didn't get it." Not true, I saw this book as a great excuse for Bellow to slyly let us know that he's read every work by every great western writer in history, neat. Just couldn't trudge through it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara Mader | 1/9/2014

    " Hadn't read the whole thing since college. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dennis Meier | 12/17/2013

    " Here is the funny thing about most literary fiction--at least for me: I remember reading this book, and I enjoyed it, but I can't remember anything about the characters or the story. These stories don't rise above the static of everyday life in the way that speculative fiction does. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claire | 11/27/2013

    " It's been a long time since I read it but I remember thinking it was the best think I'd read in years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Naile Berna | 10/21/2013

    " Beautifully written. Saul Bellow surprises me with his humor. A book I definitely struggled to get through at times, yet it was a stimulating journey. I have a feeling I will read this book again in the coming years. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 AC | 7/7/2013

    " Though I read this book 30 years ago -- I adored it... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Edward | 3/10/2012

    " A timeless treatment of the human crisis of our time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim | 1/14/2012

    " This was definitely not my favorite "classic". There are interesting characters, big city alienation and philosophical meditations galore. However, the book really bogged down in places, for me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bea | 1/2/2012

    " I read this a long time ago and remember it annoying me greatly. Unfortunately, I don't remember why. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 10/8/2011

    " Dense consideration of life values and dying "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 10/8/2011

    " I thought it would never end! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andy | 5/8/2011

    " This book is tough going because it is do densely written, and has so many pauses for philosophical commentary. Worth every second! humor. interesting characters. interesting commentary on what was going on at the time the and in the place the story was set. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 3/6/2011

    " Yeah, well, okay. I enjoyed the sudden burst of energy that brings the book to a close, but can't say I'll ever feel the need to revisit it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nina | 2/12/2011

    " I'm on a Bellow kick now. Not much plot, but a heck of a lot of character. The author's passion and love of humanity come through, as well as his ability to laugh at the absurdity of it all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeff | 1/27/2011

    " It is brilliant in the parts where I can see it -- and most likely brilliant in the parts where I cannot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cadenza | 1/11/2011

    " I recently re-read this homage to poet Delmore Schwartz. As a Chicagoan, I loved the story, immediately recognized the characters and hope someone takes this on as a mini-series. It was such a pleasure to read a well crafted work functioning in real time and place. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandy | 1/9/2011

    " Well written but I don"t resonate with the "male menopause" novels. Bellow and Updike and Ford. They're good but in limited quantities. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lauri | 12/7/2010

    " could not get past 5 pages - too deep for me! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rianna | 12/6/2010

    " eh, it was ok. Yada yada, life sucks sometimes and all that, uh huh. It evoked my frustration at the main character so I guess it deserves something for that. However several times I fell asleep reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William | 12/6/2010

    " I would enjoy this immensely as a 50+y.o. heterosexual man. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gloriagloom | 11/18/2010

    " Lo stato dell'Arte. Dopo si può tranquillamente tornare ai geroglifici. "

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About the Author
Author Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow (1915–2005), author of numerous novels, novellas, and stories, was the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards. He also received the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, Bellow served as a war correspondent for Newsday. He taught at New York University, Princeton, and the University of Minnesota and was chairman of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

About the Narrator

Christopher Hurt is an accomplished narrator with a lengthy résumé of popular titles for Blackstone. A graduate of George Washington University’s acting program, he currently resides in New York City.