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Victim, The

The Victim

a novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1947. Asa Leventhal is left alone by his wife, who has gone south to her mother's, to fend for himself in the sweltering New York summer. He is assailed by an acquaintance, Allbee, who accuses him of having brought about the loss of his job, this crime being linked, with increasing vehemence, to Leventhal's Jewishness. Leventhal is bemused, angry, upset, yet Allbee awakens certain buried emotions in him, above all a guilt in his relationship to all the hopeless in society (Allbee is a drinker). The story of Leventhal's relationship with Allbee, a shifting and at times desperate affair, is counterpointed with that of his relationship with his brother's family, and with his mortally ill son, Mickey. The Victim displays Bellow's gift for compassionate dissection of situation and its effect on character, and his humanist belief in some deep common factor linking disparate individuals at a psychic level. It is a work of great power and literary authority, a study of anti-Semitism and of a Jew's response to it that both illuminates and transcends its particular subject.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Richard Vaughan Biography to Rosanna Warren Biography