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Henderson the Rain King

chief village novel causes

a novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1959. The novel opens with Eugene Henderson, a New England millionaire playboy in a state of torment despite his prosperous background, explaining the abandonment of his fortune due to his embroilment in social, domestic, and personal problems. The novel depicts a desperate hero in a world where the dissolution of the family and other economic factors have enforced an increased isolation of the individual in an overwhelmed existence, but which causes agony and comedy simultaneously. Henderson journeys to Africa on an impulse, yearning for some new forms of satisfaction, and drifts off the beaten track. With Romilayu his guide, he causes a disastrous mishap in trying to help an African village cleanse its water supply, leaving in disgrace. He reaches another village where he befriends the local chief Dahfu, and is declared Sungo the official rainmaker after ‘causing’ a deluge by moving the goddess of the clouds. Henderson becomes involved in the tribal rites of the chief's succession, becoming the chief after Dahfu's death. Fearing for their safety, Henderson and Romilayu escape from the village, and Henderson returns home having successfully brought new horizons to his life.

[back] Hamish Henderson Biography - (1919–2002), Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica

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