Saul Bellow Journal

Articles

Vol. 24, No. 2, Fall

Behind the Great American Novels: A Double-Portrait of Moby-Dick and the Adventures of Augie March
"When I wrote Augie, I had of course read Moby-Dick." --Saul Bellow in a letter dated May 30, 1970 "Let America then prize and cherish her writers, yea, let her glorify them. They are not so many in number as to exhaust her good-will." --Herman...
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Family Dynamics in Henderson the Rain King
"What made me take this trip to Africa?" wonders the eponymous hero of Henderson the Rain Kang (3). "Moody, rough, tyrannical, and probably mad" as he describes himself, Eugene Henderson is perplexed by the question and unable to really answer it with...
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Effusive Paralysis: A Pre-Oedipal Reading of Saul Bellow's Herzog
In Herzog Saul Bellow has constructed an epistolary novel that illustrates the close relationship between identity and language. The eponymous narrator--a middle-aged intellectual and professor living in the ideologically, scientifically and technologically...
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Kant, Schopenhauer, Saul Bellow: Evil in Mr. Sammler's Planet
"In evil as in art there was illumination." --Artur Sammler Evil & Good Evil has been an enchanting subject with writers since times immemorial. For the Romans and Greeks, miasma or moral contamination in society was an anathema. To them,...
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Something Fishy: Fish Imagery in Saul Bellow's Novels
Saul Bellow frequently uses nature imagery in his fiction. As a fisherman, Bellow participates in a tradition deeply rooted in American literature, beginning with Thoreau and continuing through Melville, Twain, Hemingway, and Brautigan--adding a Jewish...
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Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring

Sammler's Theater: Walking through Sammler's New York City
"I am horrified!" ~Artur Sammler Sometimes it takes a Holocaust survivor with limited sight to show you what the world really looks like. If you peek behind the scrim and scratch underneath the gilding of Saul Bellow's novel, you'll find Mr....
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The Reader as Parent in Saul Bellow's Seize the Day
Seize the Day is a frustrating read. We want to shout, "No, you idiot," when Tommy gives Tamkin all his remaining money. At the same time, we want to shout at Adler to show a bit of fatherly feeling despite his disappointment--no, disgust--with his...
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Saul Bellow's Cultural Mediation
The central theme of Jewish writing in America is assimilation. As thousands of Jews left the tradition-entrenched Old World of Europe and immigrated to the American New World, they were confronted with modernity. This move became the unifying myth...
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A Family Systems Theory Approach to Saul Bellow's Herzog
Using a family systems theory approach and an unpublished early draft of the episode that focuses on Herzog's childhood, we will suggest a way of understanding the protagonist that will answer one of the key questions that puzzles not only Herzog but...
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Remembering Saul Bellow: The Legacy
Saul Bellow's death in 2005 has occasioned some four hundred critical "final assessments," nearly all of which wrestle in some degree of puzzlement over such an eclectic twentieth-century American life. His obituarists note his long and brilliant life...
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Truth and Cruelty in the Comedy of Saul Bellow
At the onset of Saul Bellow's "Mosby's Memoirs," Willis Mosby decides that it is high time to put some humor into his memoirs. (1) This call for comedy is repeated six times before Mosby settles upon his comic material: Hymen Lustgarten, a bumbling...
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Selected Annotated Critical Bibliography
Works by Bellow Bellow, Saul. Aoji. Maqi Li Xian Ji [The Adventures of Augie March]. Trans. Zhaolin Song. Shanghai: Shanghai yi wen chu ban she, 2006. Print. Note: The Adventures of Augie March in Chinese. --. "A Silver Dish." Short Stories...
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Vol. 23, No. 1-2, Fall

Introduction
Saul Bellow's literary engagement with the Holocaust eludes simple or simplistic analysis. On the one hand, the Nobel Laureate resisted for many years the designation Jewish writer. On the other hand, his sensibilities were very much informed by a...
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Blinded by Ideology: Saul Bellow, the Partisan Review, and the Impact of the Holocaust
Today, Alan Berger and I are going to try to unpack my father's statement that he "came late" to the Holocaust--which is something of a personal confession, to my mind. In order to offer a biographical context to his statement, it is important to remember...
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"Not Enough Air to Breathe": The Victim in Saul Bellow's Post-Holocaust America
"Is our species crazy? Plenty of evidence. All of course ... man's invention." --Mr. Sammler's Planet What is most noticeably and in many ways unnervingly present in Saul Bellow's The Victim is the conspicuous absence of the Holocaust. Published...
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Child of the Holocaust in Mr. Sammler's Planet
Unfortunately, critics of Mr. Sammler's Planet have not challenged Sammler's assumption that his daughter Shula-Slawa is a "nut" as a consequence of her four traumatic years as a hidden child during the Holocaust; moreover, critics have not questioned...
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The Dual Nature of Duty in Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet
During a recent conversation with Alan Berger, Greg Bellow said that his father, Saul, believed "he came late to the Holocaust." Clearly, Saul thought he had a responsibility as a Jewish American writer to engage this atrocity, and Mr. Sammler's Planet,...
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"Saul Bellow and the Holocaust Moment"
The post-Holocaust decades of the 1940s and1950s found Saul Bellow a relatively inexperienced writer, still passionately committed to idealistic humanistic agendas, and unconvinced that utopian radical politics held the answer to mankind's ills. As...
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Selected Annotated Critical Bibliography
Works by Bellow Bellow, Saul. Aoji. Maqi Li Xian Ji [The Adventures of Augie March]. Trans. Zhaolin Song. Shanghai: Shanghai yi wen chu ban she, 2006. Print. Note: The Adventures of Augie March in Chinese. --. "A Silver Dish." Short Stories...
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Vol. 22, No. 1, Fall

Saul Bellow's Paris
"For my part," says Chick, the narrator of Saul Bellow's Ravelstein (2000), "I had often felt myself hustled and despised by Parisians" (Ravelstein 45). Although Saul Bellow frequently badmouthed Paris and its inhabitants, he uses the French capital...
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Childhood Sexual Abuse as a Determinate Source of Trauma in Herzog
"He was spattered forever with things that bled or stank." --Herzog Saul Bellow's masterpiece, Herzog, is a unique combination of comedy, tragedy, farce, and philosophy, articulated through scattered bundles of mental letters that were seldom...
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The Metaphysics of Fear in Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King
In Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow addresses expansive metaphysical themes, including the nature of reality, human desire and eros, and the tendency to fear both life and death; yet, the novel receives little critical attention. As an artist,...
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The Dean's December and Saul Bellow's Novels of Contemplation
While reviewing the outset of his career as a writer, Saul Bellow once remarked that Dangling Man (1944) was his baccalaureate degree, The Victim (1947) his master's degree, and The Adventures of Augie March (1953) his doctoral degree. That academic...
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Wrinkles in Time: Tracing Joseph's Trauma in Dangling Man
Dangling Man is a series of journal entries recorded by a narrator who was, but may no longer be, Joseph. The old Joseph was a man who registered for service in the 1942 draft, but, for reasons of ambiguous citizenship, botched blood work, and other...
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Selected Annotated Critical Bibliography 2003-2007
Works by Bellow Bellow, Saul. "A Talk With the Yellow Kid." Afterword. Con Man: A Master Swindler's Own Story. By J.R. Weil and W.T. Brannon as told by W. T. Brannon with Afterword by Saul Bellow. New York: Broadway Books, 2004. Print. A narrative...
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Vol. 21, No. 1-2, Winter

Particularity and the Comic in Saul Bellow's the Dean's December
Martin Amis has recently remarked that Bellow "breaks all the rules ... about universality in fiction ... [T]he people in Bellow's fiction are real people, yet the intensity of the gaze that he bathes them in, somehow through the particular, opens...
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Herzog/Sammler: On the Ethics of Form and Self
Bellow's widely mobile protagonists have been called questers and picaros, but the comparison is always a stretch, a means merely to launch speculations and ground observations. This brief essay counts as another series of observations based on a similarly...
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What Do Men Do When Their Wives Are Away? Exorcists, Evil Spirits, and Actors in Saul Bellow's the Victim
Saul Bellow has always been attacked for portraying male protagonists who, as Chris Wood says, are "at best entirely unsuited, to ... devouring, unreasonable women." A similar attitude is expressed by Joseph F. McCadden, who maintains that Bellow depicts...
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Wrestling with Angels: Male Friendship in Henderson the Rain King
I was grateful to him. I was his friend then. In fact, at this moment, I loved the guy. --Henderson Since its publication in 1959, Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King has been studied from a wide variety of critical perspectives. Scholars have...
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Some Versions of the "Swiftian" in Bellow and Roth
To trace the influence of Jonathan Swift on any contemporary writer is inevitably to feed, whether transparently or with sly or innocent indirection, moral and critical controversies that have bedeviled reception of the Dean's works ever since his...
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Four Doctrines of Religiocentric Reflection: Meditative Digressivity in Humboldt's Gift
At present we were essentially alone, first in the sense that the recognition of angels was forbidden us by the prevailing worldview, and secondly in our shadowy realization of the existence of others, and consequently of our own existence. In the...
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Saul Bellow's "An Exalted Madness" and "Zetland: By a Character Witness"
In Saul Bellow's papers at the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago Library, we discovered two versions of an unpublished short story, both entitled "An Exalted Madness," which we will argue are useful in helping one to...
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Images of American Empires in the Novels of Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow spoke in his 1976 Nobel lecture of the "few true impressions and the multitudes of false ones that make up most of what we call life" ("The Nobel Lecture" 325). It is essential in discussing Bellow's work to first establish what constitutes...
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Saul Bellow and Moses Herzog
A general problem encountered by the critics and the readers of Herzog is the ambiguity in trying to distinguish Moses Herzog's voice from that of Saul Bellow. Outside the use of direct quotation to present the hero's speech, indirect presentation...
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Vol. 20, No. 2, Fall

Selected Annotated Bibliography: 2001-2002
Articles and Chapters Allen, Brooke. "The Adventures of Saul Bellow." The Hudson Review: A Magazine of Literature and the Arts 54.1 (2001): 77-87. Purportedly a critique of Atlas's biographical portrait of Bellow. Provides also a useful summary...
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Herzog as "Survival Literature"
While Moses Herzog rarely speaks directly of the Holocaust in Saul Bellow's Herzog, (1) scattered allusions to the horrors of World War II surface in the narrative and the subtext of Herzog's letters. Through these images, Bellow establishes a parallel...
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Body Language: Spoken vs. Silent Communication in Herzog
The human body as the reflection of one's personality, as the source and recipient of sensual pleasure, and as a fascinating and wondrous piece of sculpture has been a recurrent theme in Saul Bellow's work. In his Dangling Man (1944), (1) Joseph's...
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Presence, Absence, and Commodity Fetish in Ravelstein
"A human soul devoid of longing was a soul deformed, deprived of its highest good, sick unto death." --Chick, Ravelstein (1) Anyone who has read Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind (1987) (2) can be forgiven for coming away from Bloom's...
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The Prospect of Too Much Freedom: Saul Bellow's Management of Abundance
There is the other satisfactory effect, that of a man hurling himself at an indomitable chaos and yanking and hauling as much of it as possible into some sort of order (or beauty), aware of it both as chaos and as potential. --Ezra Pound The...
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Tamkin the Trickster: Laughter and Trembling before the Immanence of the Essential in Saul Bellow's Seize the Day
I Recent critical attention to Doctor Tamkin as a material presence whose physical appearance reveals the inner man has contributed invaluably to the discussion of Bellow as a phrenologist of character, an appreciation of his art rededicated to...
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"I Want, I Want!": Transcendental Epiphanies in Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King
Life is our dictionary.... Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and the work-yard made. --Emerson, "The American Scholar" In July of 1845, Henry David Thoreau left his home in Concord, Massachusetts, and went to live on nearby...
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