Henderson the Rain King

Henderson the Rain King

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"It blazes as fiercely and scintillatingly as a forest fire. There is life here; a great rage to live more fully. In this it is a giant among novels." (San Francisco Examiner)

A Penguin Classic

Saul Bellow evokes all the rich colors and exotic customs of a highly imaginary Africa in this acclaimed comic novel about a middle-aged American millionaire who, seeking a new, more rewarding life, descends upon an African tribe. Henderson’s awesome feats of strength and his unbridled passion for life win him the admiration of the tribe—but it is his gift for making rain that turns him from mere hero into messiah. A hilarious, often ribald story, Henderson the Rain King is also a profound look at the forces that drive a man through life.

This Penguin Classics edition contains an introduction by Adam Kirsch.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780886461591
Publisher: Durkin Hayes Publishing, Ltd.
Publication date: 06/28/1986
Edition description: Abridged
Product dimensions: 4.40(w) x 7.01(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Saul Bellow (1915–2005) is the author of nearly twenty works of literature, including Seize the Day, The Adventures of Augie March, The Victim, Herzog, and Humboldt’s Gift. He taught at the University of Chicago and Boston University. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976.

Adam Kirsch is a senior editor at the New Republic and a columnist for the Tablet. He lives in New York City.

Date of Birth:

June 10, 1915

Date of Death:

April 5, 2005

Place of Birth:

Lachine, Quebec, Canada

Place of Death:

Brookline, Massachusetts


University of Chicago, 1933-35; B.S., Northwestern University, 1937

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Henderson the Rain King 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Saul Bellow's book, 'Henderson the Rain King', he portrays many sides of a complex man. The main focus of the book tends to be on the drastic changes that occur to Eugene Henderson when he leaves the comfort of his million dollar artificial life in America, and ventures into the unspoiled regions of Africa. Leaving behind his crass attitude and all the miseries he brought upon himself and his family, he begins to have the signs of a midlife crisis and decides to venture into Africa. Once starting upon the journey in Africa, Henderson slowly begins to realize what he really wants to achieve in his life and comes out of the adventure with a greater sense of who he really is, and his new ambitions. The ending seems to just happen without revealing a key part of the story.

The setting of the book was what made all of the revelations possible for Henderson. After he goes away from the materialistic world he was raised in, he is forced into a new situation where money means nothing. In Africa, he is forced to be on the same level as the commoners as well as royalty. Seeing how other people live happily without everything he thought life is made up of, he realizes what he really wants to make himself happy. Such simplicity in the African world gives time to show his character development and the complexity in the issues he faces in finding who he really is.

sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite the nearly universal praises for this book among the reviews posted here, I just can't get through it. I'm nearly 3/4 finished and every chapter has been a struggle. Henderson is a wealthy, middle aged man in the midst of a mid-life crises. He is so totally self-absorbed and whiney that I just don't care what he has to say, what he wants, or what he does. The review posted by Blackdogbooks contains an excellent synopsis of the plot, such as it is.
rameau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A satire of Hemingway. A nod to Tarzan. A full-speed tearing into the nature of existence. And lions.
aketzle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gave up on this a long time ago. Boring and weird.
maryjomac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very odd book. Originally picked it up because of the rumor that the Counting Crows song Rain King is inspired by this book. Understand some of the positions because of when the book was written. I was a hard book to get through.
NanceJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this in school. I like the song Rain King by Counting Crows better than this book that it was based on, but the book was still interesting, as it was about a man in Africa and I love other cultures. I should probably read it again.
andyray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i like to post my impression about halfway through the book. i was forced to read it at the University in 1971 as one of the "important modern novels" and loved it then. I remember that, but seemingly in the 35 years or so that have passed, I am less radical in my actions and thought. I find Gene Henderson to be a well-drawn character, but lacking in all social niceties. Right now he is facing the problem of dying cattle and a frog-filled pond. I find that amusing. One doesn't laugh out loud necessarily reading this or other American humorists, but one laughs in his mind and his soul. I am doing so. I suspect there are people who read who do not have any sense of irony or cannot think in two tracks to det the double entendres. i pity them. right now i'm enclined to give this one a three star rating (on page 65) -- let's see what it's like at the end. Well, it's over (Thank God). It somehow grabs you with the lion and the king. That's the essence of the story, but the frogs thingie is a good contrapuntal episode. The rating is up because I finally got used to what was bothering me -- Bellow's bellow. He is aptly named. I'm even going so far as to call this a classic read!
marysargent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful, unique book. What a character. So far all of his main characters are very appealing men to me, very flawed, but very self-aware. And Henderson, especially, under all that craziness and bluster, very sweet. A tender spot for animals and children. Wonderful descriptions. Wonderful appreciation for beauty and just for stuff in general. Crazy plot. I'm just so surprised this existed all these years and I didn't know about it. How did I misjudge Bellow so badly? Where did I get my ideas?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LoveTheSpurs More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book when I was 13 just after I had surgery. My parents took me to a getaway for the weekend and I spent it reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I credit Saul Bellow and my parents for my love of reading 30 years later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. Buy it, read it enjoy it. Great relaxation story kind of book. Interesting ideas.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book as part of a Contemporary Literature course. It is about an unhappy man who travels to Africa to try to find himself. I enjoyed this book immensely- it has an exotic setting, an extremely interesting lead character, and very important life lessons. Anger, sadness, helplessness, depression, loss, contentment are all dealt with. I recommend this book to everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was assigned this book by my Honors English teacher and I think that Hendersons character shows that even the strongest man (by physical appearance ) can be very weak on the inside. I enjoyed reading the book and can't wait to read me by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
saul bellow wasn't creative and his language was to complex, he should provide notes or analisis like shakespere does, he needs to put more detail and open his mind more.