Henderson the Rain King Social Concerns

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Although Saul Bellow had established his position as an important American novelist with his previous four novels, Henderson the Rain King expanded his readership and firmed up his career as a comic writer.

In an interview with George Plimpton for the Paris Review and reprinted in Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews, third series (1968), Bellow refers to his earliest two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1948) as "literature of complaint" and in that commentary vows to embrace a more comic perspective in his future writings.

With Henderson's comic-epic style and snappy vaudevillian one-liners, Bellow emerges from the literature of complaint, in which characters like Tommy Wilhelm, the suffering hero of Seize the Day (1956), mournfully discover their marginal position in the contemporary American experience, both as Jews and as men discovering their psychological dependency. In only one earlier novel, The Adventures of Augie March (1953), is the hero, or...

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This section contains 2,204 words
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