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Dangling Man by Saul Bellow

Dangling Man (1944)

by Saul Bellow

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Like a grown-up 'Catcher in the Rye', Bellow's 'Dangling Man' is a young gentleman cast adrift in society, unsure of how to live, of how his principles can be reconciled with the imperfect society around him. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Mar 30, 2017 |
Dangling man? Dangling reader more like! Another Bellow under the belt and that’s a good metaphor as yet another protagonist spends most of the novel navel-gazing.

Bellow won the Nobel, so you know that he’s a heavyweight and not to expect too much in the way of plot or typical character development. The Nobel judges seem to look more for an exploration of the human condition and that’s right up Bellow’s street as this slim volume explores what it means to lack purpose in a driven world.

Joseph begins a diary for lack of anything better to do while awaiting orders after being drafted during WW2. We wait impatiently with him for any kind of action and the diary ends just as he is finally called up. I’ve a feeling the sequel would have been a better read!

Joseph spends his days at home or wandering the streets or at friends or getting criticised by his wife, his family or whoever for not getting on with life. He muses on the life he’s left and the life he’s supposed to have embarked on but he never seems desperate enough to actually get off his butt and get down to the draft office and find out why he seems to have fallen through the cracks.

There’s not much to sympathise with here. It’s probably the right book to read when you’ve just graduated with a BA in English Lit. and have spent the last six months trying to find a job where you can actually put it to use! ( )
  arukiyomi | Aug 26, 2016 |
This was a bit odd. One man's odyssey in the early 1940s waiting to be called up for the war......waiting........can't get a job......wondering.......others wondering what the matter is that he is still around.......scared......personality and disposition take a turn for the worse......friends pay........wife pays........waiting. A bit unsettling for sure when i try to imagine what that would be like. Also significant in that this was written in 1944, so it was rather real for the time. But it was not very gripping, and i struggled to get through it in spite of its small size. But then again, I am still thinking about it. So, a 3-star rating it is....but just barely. ( )
  jeffome | Sep 3, 2015 |
Dangling Man is Saul Bellow's first book, published in 1944. The writing is good, the characters are well drawn, the story satisfactory. But the novel as a whole kinda sucks.

The narrator, Joseph, is a Canadian, married to an American citizen, and living in Chicago. Because of his citizenship, his effort to join the U.S. Army is stalled. He'll be accepted, he's told, but but there'll be a delay. They'll contact him soon. In anticipation of his induction, he quits his job. He and his wife economize to live on her earnings, give up their flat and move into a rooming house. He sits at home. Waits. Gets into squabbles with his wife, his parents and brother, his in-laws, with longtime friends, with neighbors. He rejects every effort people make to ease him through this limbo. Fists fly. He's asked to leave the rooming house, his wife is ready to separate. What's to like about the guy?

At first, it seemed to be about alienation. He's an alien, and that status initially prompts rejection by the army. People endeavor to commiserate, and they offer suggestions and even financial assistance, which he chooses to view as insults. His reactions to people mystifies them and, pushed a little more, angers them. More alienation. But it's really about his indecision, his reluctance to commit himself one way or another. Contrarian.

But it's a short book. ( )
  weird_O | May 22, 2015 |
Should've started my Bellow reading with this, I think. First I read Ravelstein, which was essentially an insult to the reader's intelligence. It took me a few years to get over that farce, and when I did, I went with 'Seize the Day,' which was okay, but not particularly memorable for any reason. This is really good, provided you liked that Dostoevsky volume that includes Notes from Underground and the Grand Inquisitor section from Brothers K. Because 'Dangling Man' is the mid twentieth century, American love-child of those two pieces. My only problem is that I had the uncomfortable feeling that Bellow would have told me I was taking the wrong things to be ironic. The Dangling Man's fatuous 'philosophy,' either of his younger or older self, made me laugh out loud. The idiocies of the other characters were sometimes amusing, but just as often touching. I suspect that's the opposite to the way that Bellow would have had me read it. So this passage from February 2 is my favourite in the book: "I answered that I was preparing myself spiritually, that I was willing to be a member of the Army, but not a *part* of it. He thought this a very witty answer. He believes I am a natural comedian and laughs at everything I say. The more serious I become, the harder he laughs." Indeed.

On the other hand, you'd be perfectly justified in saying: "This is the maudlin and pathetic ravings of a man who believes himself to be better than everyone else. We all have those thoughts, but he seems to be unaware that we all have those thoughts; he also seems to be unaware that he's a shitbag."
( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bellow, Saulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Monicelli, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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December 15, 1942

There was a time when people were in the habit of addressing themselves frequently and felt no shame at making a record of their inward transactions.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039873, Paperback)

Expecting to be inducted into the army, Joseph has given up his job and carefully prepared for his departure to the battlefront. When a series of mix-ups delays his induction, he finds himself facing a year of idleness. Bellow's first novel documents Joseph's psychological reaction to his inactivity while war rages around him and his uneasy insights into the nature of freedom and choice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:03 -0400)

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GENERAL & LITERARY FICTION. Expecting to be inducted into the army, Joseph has given up his job and carefully prepared for his departure to the battlefront. When a series of mix ups delays his induction, he finds himself facing a year of idleness. Dangling Man is his journal, a wonderful account of his restless wandering through Chicago's streets, his musings on the past, his psychological reaction to his inactivity while war rages around him, and his uneasy insights into the nature of freedom and choice.… (more)

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