The Victim

Bellow, Saul

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Aug-29-2001


The tale is that of two men who have had some business and a bit of social relationship in the past who are brought together after some long time in the course of the book. Allbee, who has disappeared into the underworld of skid row, submerged in his own alcoholism, suddenly reappears in the life of Leventhal, a fearful, up-tight man who struggles to maintain himself in a middle-class job and apartment. Allbee appears to have lost everything--wife, job, self-esteem, while Leventhal plods along in a respectable, but scarcely enthralling life.

Leventhal doesn't really owe Allbee anything, but he cannot rid himself of a sense of guilt. He is "successful," questionably at the expense of Allbee, and he allows the latter to plague his days and nights. Interwoven among the threads of this strange entanglement are family stresses, including the untimely death of a nephew, dragging at Leventhal's time and patience.


Among the interesting medicine and literature connections in this wonderfully rendered novel are the glimpses into the behavior of an obsessive drinker. Allbee drinks and drinks, blames Leventhal for having cost him his job years before, and revels in Leventhal's anguish over his possible responsibility for Allbee's downfall. Most of the characteristics expressed by the author in the behavior of the drunkard can be documented as typical. Allbee may be viewed as one prototype of an alcohol addict scapegoating others for his own flaws.


First published: 1947


Penguin Books

Place Published

New York



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