The Actual
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The Actual : A Novella

3.26 (1,126 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Harry Trellman doesn't belong. Not in the Chicago orphanage where he is sent by his mother, not in high school (too brainy), not even on the streets. Human attachments? Yes, he has them, but they are like everything else in his life, singular and irregular. People who know him say that he "drowns his feelings in his face, " and that he has a Mongolian "masked look." But though Harry stands apart, he has always been a most keen observer, listener, recorder and interpreter, and none of this is lost on the Chicago billionaire, Sigmund Adletsky, who takes Harry into his "brain trust." He retains Harry to advise him. They discuss ordinary things - they gossip together. Old Adletsky has set feelings aside while he amassed his vast fortune. The old man is so apt that he divines the secrets behind Harry's mask, and brings him together with the one person Harry has loved dumbly for forty years. Amy Wustrin has not exactly stood apart from the sexual revolution while waiting for Harry to come wooing. Far from remaining the static object of his fantasy, she has moved about in the real world, from one marriage to another, from rich to broke, from hot high-school girl to correct matron. Still, in Amy, Harry sees what he calls his "actual." Harry has had his opportunities with Amy, but it is not until he finds himself at the cemetery with her for the exhumation and reburial of her husband that he feels free to speak out.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 80 pages
  • 127 x 190.5 x 17.78mm | 90.72g
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0143105841
  • 9780143105848
  • 798,734

Review quote

"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
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About Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow was praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose. Born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, he was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines.
His first two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day (1956); Henderson the Rain King (1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970); Humboldt's Gift (1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December (1982); More Die of Heartbreak (1987); Theft (1988); The Bellarosa Connection (1989);The Actual (1996); Ravelstein (2000); and, most recently, Collected Stories(2001). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up, a collection of memoirs and essays.
Bellow's many awards include the International Literary Prize for Herzog, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."
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Rating details

1,126 ratings
3.26 out of 5 stars
5 10% (113)
4 31% (348)
3 39% (439)
2 16% (182)
1 4% (44)
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