Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Ravelstein by Saul Bellow

Ravelstein

by Saul Bellow

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow X
Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2000, 224 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2001, 224 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

"No contemporary of ours is more consistently brilliant and more defiantly risky than Saul Bellow." --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review

Abe Ravelstein is a brilliant professor at a prominent Midwestern university and a man who glories in training the movers and shakers of the political world. He has lived grandly and ferociously--and much beyond his means. His close friend Chick has suggested that he put forth a book of his convictions about the ideas which sustain humankind, or kill it, and much to Ravelstein's own surprise he does and becomes a millionaire. Ravelstein suggests in turn that Chick write a memoir or life of him, and during the course of a celebratory trip to Paris the two share thoughts on mortality, philosophy and history, loves and friends old and new, old suits, and vaudeville routines from the remote past. The mood turns more somber once they have returned to the midwest and Ravelstein succumbs to AIDS and Chick himself nearly dies.

Deeply insightful and always moving, Saul Bellow's new novel is a journey through love and memory. It is brave, dark, and bleakly funny; an elegy to friendship and lives well (or badly) lived.

Excerpt
Ravelstein

Odd that mankind's benefactors should be amusing people. In America at least this is often the case. Anyone who wants to govern the country has to entertain it. During the Civil War people complained about Lincoln's funny stories. Perhaps he sensed that strict seriousness was far more dangerous than any joke. But critics said that he was frivolous and his own Secretary of War referred to him as an ape.

Among the debunkers and spoofers who formed the tastes and minds of my generation H. L. Mencken was the most prominent. My high school friends, readers of the American Mercury, were up on the Scopes trial as Mencken reported it. Mencken was very hard on William Jennings Bryan and the Bible Belt and Boobus Americanus. Clarence Darrow, who defended Scopes, represented science, modernity, and progress. To Darrow and Mencken, Bryan the Special Creationist was a doomed Farm Belt absurdity. In the language of evolutionary theory Bryan was a dead branch of the life-tree...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
Introduction
Abe Ravelstein is a capacious, vibrant, larger-than-life character; a teacher who insists that the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Nietzsche are vitally important to his students' lives; a philosopher who is committed to saving human dignity from encroaching "boobism"; and at the same time a man who luxuriates in all the sensual pleasures life has to offer, from Armani suits to the finest French hotels. When his friend Chick suggests he turn one of his popular courses into a book, no one would have foreseen that it would become an international bestseller and vault its author into a worldwide, and often controversial, spotlight. As Chick notes, "It's no small matter to become rich and famous by saying exactly what you ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

The Boston Globe
His voice has the meticulous range and certainty of a cathedral choir. The wit is exquisitely mannered; the intelligence both fearless and elegant.

The New York Times Book Review
Simply the best writer we have

The New York Times Book Review - Joyce Carol Oates
No contemporary of ours is more consistently brilliant and more defiantly risky than Saul Bellow

The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
Our 'greatest living novelist' returns with his first full-length novel in years.

Reader Reviews

Jake

Misogyny for the win.
An interesting proposal for a book, to make yourself vulnerable to someone who you perceive to be your intellectual equal or superior, but it turns out to be a thin veil thrown over one writer's Id/Ego conversation about having feelings of longing ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Ravelstein, try these:

  • The Blue Guitar jacket

    The Blue Guitar

    by John Banville

    Published 2016

    About this book

    More by this author

    John Banville, the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, now gives us a new novel - at once trenchant, witty, and shattering - about the intricacies of artistic creation, about theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves

  • House of Meetings jacket

    House of Meetings

    by Martin Amis

    Published 2008

    About this book

    More by this author

    In 1946, two brothers and a Jewish girl fall into alignment in Moscow. The fraternal conflict then continues in Norlag, a slave-labor camp above the Arctic Circle, where a tryst in the coveted House of Meetings will haunt all three lovers long after the brothers are released.

We have 7 read-alikes for Ravelstein, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine Capó Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...
  • Book Jacket: Beverly Hills Spy
    Beverly Hills Spy
    by Ronald Drabkin
    When it comes to espionage, not only is truth stranger than fiction, sometimes it can be downright ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

Who Said...

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.