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Seize the Day (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

By Saul Bellow, Anthea Bell (Translator), Paul Keegan (Introduction by), Graziana Lazzarino, Luc Braeckmans (Editor) & Christopher Chapman
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Item Number 424088  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   144
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2003
Publisher   Penguin Group USA
Age  18
ISBN  0142437611  
EAN  9780142437612  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
Tommy Wilhelm tries to save himself from drowning under the weight of his own existence as his life comes apart around him after failing in his job, marriage, and investments.

Publishers Description

Deftly interweaving humor and pathos, Saul Bellow evokes in the climactic events of one day the full drama of one man's search to affirm his own worth and humanity.

Buy Seize the Day (Penguin Classics) by Saul Bellow, Anthea Bell, Paul Keegan, Graziana Lazzarino, Luc Braeckmans & Christopher Chapman from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780142437612 & 0142437611

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More About Saul Bellow, Anthea Bell, Paul Keegan, Graziana Lazzarino, Luc Braeckmans & Christopher Chapman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Saul Bellow was praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose. Born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, he was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines.
His first two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day (1956); Henderson the Rain King (1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970); Humboldt's Gift (1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December (1982); More Die of Heartbreak (1987); Theft (1988); The Bellarosa Connection (1989);The Actual (1996); Ravelstein (2000); and, most recently, Collected Stories(2001). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up, a collection of memoirs and essays.
Bellow's many awards include the International Literary Prize for Herzog, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."
Stanley Crouch's books include Notes of a Hanging Judge, The All-American Skin Game (Nominated for the National Book Award), and a novel, Don't the Moon Look Lonesome. He has received the Whiting Writer's Award and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

Saul Bellow lived in Brookline, in the state of Massachusetts. Saul Bellow was born in 1915 and died in 2005.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
There ain't no little ways to make things better, and the only big thing is money  Jan 15, 2010
In the story Looking for Mr. Green, in my edition of Seize the Day, a minor character summarizes the mood of this entire work. In Seize the Day, we can find the Ur-Bellow concerns; most of the themes that can be found in his later literature, somewhat more fleshed out, are found here.

Overwhelmingly, this is the place of money, power and position in American life. Some later Bellow work appears to reveal in American prosperity and materialism. He is adept at explaining in detail the quality and price of a jacket or tie or a sports car. But in Seize the Day, Americam capitalism runs over the main character, at the end reducing him to literal tears.

If anyone wants to see the early Bellow flexing his new literary muscles, this work must be read.
a pleasure to start, a pain to finish  Oct 3, 2009
I really enjoyed the first half of this novella, but the second, dominated by the annoying Dr. Tamkin, was harder to like. Tamkin is not only profoundly distasteful himself, but he manages to make the already pathetic protagonist Wilhelm even more unappealing. Still, Bellow is able to create a kind of relentless downward spiral that is admirable in its effect.
Elegant and Precise  Jul 13, 2009
Saul Bellow needs little introduction. This slight book, however, is not his most well known. It may be the most accessible, a sip before diving into larger, more daunting works. Despite its brevity, this story of a day in the life of Tommy Wilhelm packs punch.

Bellow is a master stylist. He writes a paragraph as aesthetically pleasing as anyone:

"A long perfect ash formed on the end of the cigar, the white ghost of the leaf with all its veins and its fainter pungency. It was ignored, in its beauty, by the old man. For it was beautiful. Wilhelm he ignored as well."

Three characters are most central to the story: Tommy Wilhelm (formerly Wilhelm Adler), his father (Dr. Adler), and Dr. Tamkin. Other characters are interesting and relevant, but the relationships between Wilhelm and his father and between Wilhelm and Dr. Tamkin are the focus. When the story opens, Wilhelm has no job, an estranged wife who will not give him a divorce, two sons he rarely sees, more debts than he can pay, a strained relationship with his father, and three orders of lard.

The orders of lard are Wilhelm's first foray into the commodities market. Wilhelm knows nothing about the market and so suffers considerable anxiety when the price for lard drops and the choice is between selling at a loss or waiting for a rebound. "The psychologist, Dr. Tamkin, had got him into this." Tamkin and Wilhelm first met at a nightly gin game where Wilhelm "had never won. Not once." Dr. Tamkin proceeded to convince Wilhelm that there was easy money to be gotten on the commodities market. Wilhelm explained that he did not want to get rich, he just wanted "a little steady income". Dr. Tamkin agreed to show him the ropes:

"Sure I will. I do it regularly. I'll bring you my receipts if you like. And do you want to know something? I approve of your attitude very much. You want to avoid catching money fever. This type of activity is filled with hostile feeling and lust. You should see what it does to some of these fellows. They go on the market with murder in their hearts."

Of course, Wilhelm's cold father had, vaguely, warned him from taking Dr. Tamkin's advice, telling Wilky, as he calls the 40-something Wilhelm: "He's interesting to talk to. I don't doubt it. I think he's pretty common but he's a persuasive man. However, I don't know how reliable he may be."

Wilhelm is preoccupied for most of the rest of the novel with precisely the question of how reliable Dr. Tamkin's advice is and with Wilhelm's relationship with his father, Dr. Adler. Dr. Tamkin has Wilhelm's last $700.00, which Wilhelm desperately needs, in those three orders of lard. Dr. Adler apparently does not have much love for Wilhelm. If he does love his son, the love is outweighed by his disappointment in how Wilhelm has turned out. If the commodities speculating does not work out, Wilhelm will have to ask his father for money, but he is not at all sure his father will oblige.

Bellow unfolds these plot lines with always sufficient narrative tension to pull the reader along, but leaving enough room for some excellent prose in service of some lofty ideas. Wilhelm is trying to find his footing in the world as it crashes around him. Bellow, in placing Wilhelm in this situation, raises the question of the place, of even the worth, of an ordinary man who makes mistakes. Wilhelm's musings regarding his life purpose raise one of the more profound questions of the novel:

"Maybe the making of mistakes express the very purpose of his life and the essence of his being here. Maybe he was supposed to make them and suffer from them on this earth. And though he had raised himself above Mr. Perls and his father because they adored money, still they were called to act energetically and this was better than to yell and cray, pray and beg, poke and blunder and go by fits and starts and fall upon the thorns of life. And finally sink beneath that watery floor -- would that be touch luck, or would it be good riddance?"

I cannot speak for Wilhelm, but for readers it would be tough luck if his character ever disappeared. This is an easy read in that the characters are engaging, the prose is excellent, the narrative is interesting, and the pages are few. However, Bellow does demand something of his readers, so attentive readers are particularly rewarded. Bellow's is a writing to be savored rather than gulped. I am sure most palates will find the novel pleasing, some will find it superbly so.
Good, deep movie.  Jun 8, 2009
The acting is great. The story, by Saul Bellow, is not for one suffering
from depression. It is heavy! Good movie/book for a discussion group.
The vocal quality is poor. Very worthwhile.

Barbara Hacker Berman
The Great American Novella  Mar 20, 2009
Tommy Wilhelm, the protagonist of SEIZE THE DAY, has many problems. He is a mid-career salesman who is out of a job and desperate for money. The demands of his estranged and icy wife, in combination with his own guilt, are close to crushing him. And, the people he can turn to in his time of need have their own agendas. These are Dr. Adler, his aloof and elderly father who wants no part of his son's confusion; and Dr. Tamkin, a money-short beguiler whose crazy presence and conversation occasionally pops with insight.

In most of SEIZE THE DAY, Bellow illuminates Tommy's difficult situation with playful philosophical humor ("Maybe the making of mistakes expressed the very purpose of his life and the essence of his being.") and great characters. Here, for example, is Tommy considering Dr. Tamkin, who presents himself as a psychologist, deep-thinker, and commodities expert: "So many questions impossible to answer could not be asked about an honest man. Nor perhaps about a sane man. Was Tamkin a lunatic, then? That sick Mr. Perls at breakfast had said that there was no easy way to tell the sane from the mad..."

Then, in the final few pages, Tommy's impression of Tamkin clarifies and he has confrontations with his father and wife. And, the pain held at bay with the humor ("You can spend the entire second half of you life recovering from the mistakes of the first half.") emerges. The novella ends with a great scene, profound and affecting, that exposes the needy Tommy.

Bellow has amazing touch in SEIZE THE DAY and is able to examine serious issues and real characters with humor and warmth. At the same time, Bellow has a wonderful break-all-the-rules style. Many paragraphs, for example, begin with omniscient narration, jump to first-person, and then back to third, whatever suits him. And, Bellow writes to capture energy, insight, and humor, which sometimes exist only because he writes in fragments or his sentences don't parse perfectly. His style demonstrates that grammar, and a fear of mistakes, can be the enemies of expression.

Highly recommended.

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