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Henderson the Rain King
by Saul Bellow

Reprint edition (June 1996)
Penguin USA (Paper); ISBN: 0140189424

Seriocomic novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1959. The novel examines the midlife crisis of Eugene Henderson, an unhappy millionaire. The story concerns Henderson's search for meaning. A larger-than-life 55-year-old who has accumulated money, position, and a large family, he nonetheless feels unfulfilled. He makes a spiritual journey to Africa, where he draws emotional sustenance from experiences with African tribes. Deciding that his true destiny is as a healer, Henderson returns home, planning to enter medical school.

articles and reviews
February 23, 1959

Books of the Times

Henderson the Rain King By Saul Bellow

L. EUGENE HENDERSON, a multimillionaire by trade and a pathetic, swaggering clown by nature, reached an imaginary point of no return when he was 55 years old and felt that he had to go to Africa. His incessant follies, his alcoholism (he was often drunk before lunch) and his mordant discontent were more than he could bear. Henderson was “moody, rough, tyrannical and probably mad.” But he was bored. He was unhappy. Raising pigs, learning to play the violin, doing hard physical labor on his estate near Danbury--nothing could soothe his tedium vitae and general agony of spirit. Henderson was a champion sufferer, a fabulously strong giant of a man with a sentimental heart and no common sense whatever. He is the hero and narrator of “Henderson the Rain King,” a peculiar, prolix and exasperating novel by Saul Bellow. [read more]


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