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By Charles Scribners Publishing

ISBN-10: 0684312492

ISBN-13: 9780684312491

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Chick is, however, interested in presenting Ravelstein's ideas on love and friendship—ideas Bellow introduced in nascent form in More Die of Heartbreak and developed further in The Actual. In Ravelstein they become a fullfledged, systematic philosophy of erotic longing and Platonic love. Chick rehearses Ravelstein's erotic theories so often they become part of the narrative's essential fabric: People are beaten at last with their solitary longings and intolerable isolation. They need the right, the missing portion to complete themselves, and since they can't realistically hope to find that they must accept a companionable substitute.

Tamkin, like all reality instructors, always has easy solutions to complex problems and preaches a gospel made up of tricks, maneuvers, and shortcuts. In presenting himself as both a psychologist and a "scientific" speculator, Tamkin pretends to have two things completely figured out: human nature and the Chicago commodities exchange. Tommy accepts his authority in these areas precisely because his opinions are so simple. Unfortunately, as Tommy must eventually learn, neither human beings nor pork bellies respond well to simplistic formulations.

Critics later saw in The Victim a more nuanced portrayal of a Jewish identity in America than can be found in any other novel of the first half of the twentieth century. Bellow does not gloss over Leventhal's Jewishness, but neither does he make it a defining characteristic or turn him into a caricature. Bellow resists the temptation to make The Victim a struggle of archetypes—"Jew" versus "anti-Semite"—and instead makes it a struggle between two fully realized and developed characters in which issues of Jewishness and anti-Semitism are important but ultimately less important than the overall human issues their relationship raises.

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AMERICAN WRITERS, Retrospective Supplement II by Charles Scribners Publishing

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