AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume3, Number1. February 2019                                   Pp. 87 -99

“Imaginary Homelands”: Henderson the Rain King and the Spiritual Quest

Department of English, Faculty of Languages and Communication
Sultan ZinalAbidin University
Terengganu, Malaysia

Mohd Nazri Latiff Azmi

Department of English, Faculty of Languages and Communication
Sultan ZinalAbidin University
Terengganu, Malaysia



Abstract PDF

This paper investigates how and why the spiritual quest of Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King (1959) enigmatically results in madness.  The identity of the American subject should be investigated in the light of his/her restless search of “Other modes of freedom” and imaginary homelands.  -Pondering upon this, the researcher realizes that three fundamental questions need to be addressed: What are the aspects of Henderson’s spiritual quest?  -As a Jewish hero, how could Henderson be associated with quest, victimization and madness?  Can one think about identity or identities?  To unmask these blind spots, the theme of the quest will be investigated, first.  The researcher shall trace Henderson’s movement from a material world – New York – to a spiritual and romantic one, Africa.  Second, Henderson’s failure to cope with the new world and therefore his failure to (re) – construct the identity of the American character will be examined in details.  This safely allows us to argue for the madness of the hero.  The conclusion is that there is no ‘absolute identity’ to the American subject.  Henderson’s attempts to re-construct a “new identity” shall be seen in line with poststructuralist premises regarding “difference, multiplicity, other, cultural diversity.”

Cite as:

MARROUCHI, R. B. M., &  Azmi, M.N.L. (2019). “Imaginary Homelands”: Henderson the Rain King and the Spiritual Quest. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies, 3 (1) 87-99.


Ramzi Marrouchi is a PhD student of Postmodern Jewish American Literature and Theories of
texts in Sultan ZinalAbidin University, Malaysia. His doctoral dissertation: “Madness and
Subversion in Saul Bellow’s World of Fiction: A Deconstructive Perspective” addresses the way
Saul Bellow introduces a peculiar reflection on madness and subversion in the light of Derrida’s
theory of deconstruction and Foucault’s assumption with regards to episteme. He is currently
serving the University of Hail, College of Arts, Department of English, KSA.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1287-2143

Dr. Mohd Nazri Latiff Azmi is an associate professor of English language and literature at Sultan
ZinalAbidin University, Malaysia. He wrote and published extensively on various fields of
research ranging from literary studies to theories of texts and others. He is currently serving Sultan ZinalAbidin University, Faculty of Languages and Communication, Department of English,