Saul Bellow

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Bellow, Saul

Bellow, Saul, 1915–2005, American novelist, b. Lachine, Que., as Solomon Bellow, grad. Northwestern Univ., 1937. Born of Russian-Jewish parents, he grew up in the slums of Montreal and Chicago, and lived mostly in Chicago with periods spent in New York and other cities; his work reflects a deep understanding of the city environment and urban life. His fiction features uniquely telling characterizations and is frequently darkly comic. His novels typically deal with large philosophical issues: the search for meaning, the conflicts between moral anomie and the quest for a personal ethic, and the tensions between the imaginative individual and a sometimes indifferent, sometimes entangling world. One of the most distinguished novelists of the mid-20th cent., he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976. His novels include Dangling Man (1944), The Adventures of Augie March (1953; National Book Award), Seize the Day (1956), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964; National Book Award), Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970; National Book Award), Humboldt's Gift (1975; Pulitzer Prize), The Dean's December (1982), and Ravelstein (2000). He also published four books of stories, Mosby's Memoirs (1968), Him with His Foot in His Mouth (1984), Something to Remember Me By (1991), and Collected Stories (2001); a novella, The Actual (1997); a memoir, To Jerusalem and Back (1976); a play, The Last Analysis (1964); and two collections of essays, journalism, and speeches, It All Adds Up (1994) and, posthumously, There Is Simply Too Much to Think About (2015). Bellow taught at several universities, including Northwestern, Chicago, and Boston.


See B. Taylor, ed., Letters (2010); G. L. Cronin and B. Siegel, ed., Conversations with Saul Bellow (1994); memoirs by H. Wasserman, his literary agent (1997) and G. Bellow, his son (2013); biographies by J. Atlas (2000) and Z. Leader (2 vol., 2015–18); studies by I. Malin (1969), M. Harris (1980), D. Fuchs (1984), P. Hyland (1992), G. Bach, ed. (1995), G. Bach and G. L. Cronin, ed. (2000), and M. A. Quayum (2004); bibliography by G. L. Cronin and B. H. Hall (2d ed. 1990).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bellow, Saul


Born July 10, 1915, in Lachine, Quebec. American writer. Son of a St. Petersburg merchant who emigrated to Canada in 1913.

Bellow studied at the University of Chicago and at Northwestern University; he received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology. He was a professor at several universities in the USA. Bellow’s first short story, “Two Morning Monologues” (1941), remained unnoticed. But he achieved fame with his novel The Dangling Man (1944), the fundamental problem of which is a man’s preservation of his “ego” amid the chaos of social, national, and moral obligations which society has placed upon him. This theme became dominant in Bellow’s creative work. His novel The Adventures of Augie March (1953) won the National Book Award as the year’s best novel. Bellow’s novel Herzog (1964), which won the same prize in 1965, is devoted to the tragedy of an intellectual who cannot find a place for himself in a bourgeois world that is alien to him.


The Victim. New York, 1956.
Henderson the Rain King. New York, 1959.
Seize the Day. New York, 1963.
Mosby’s Memoirs and Other Stories. New York, 1968.


Motyleva, T. Zarubezhnyi roman segodnia. Moscow, 1966. Pages 97–99.
Geismar, M. “Razmyshleniia o sovremennoi amerikanskoi proze.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1967, no. 12.
Landor, M. “Romany-kentavry.” Voprosy literatury, 1967, no. 2.
Dommergues, P. S. Bellow. Paris, 1967.
S. Bellow and the Critics. Edited by I. Malin. London, 1967.
Clayton, J. J. S. Bellow in Defense of Man. Bloomington-London, [1968].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bellow, Saul

(1915–  ) writer; born in Lachine, Quebec, Canada. Son of immigrant Russian Jews, in 1924 he moved with his family to Chicago, the city with which he was to become most closely identified. He earned a degree in anthropology and sociology from Northwestern University and for most of his life taught intellectual history in universities, including Minnesota (1946–49) and Chicago (1963). During World War II he served in the merchant marine. His first novel, Dangling Man (1944), was followed by a steady output of major fiction including the novels The Adventures of Augie March (1953, National Book Award), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1963, National Book Award), Mr. Sammler's Planet (1969, National Book Award), and Humboldt's Gift (1975, Pulitzer Prize). This work, much of which treated with compassion and wit the spiritual crisis of modernism while drawing on his own feelings of alienation from contemporary society, established him as America's most distinguished postwar writer of fiction. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1976. His subsequent books included the novels The Dean's December (1982) and More Die of Heartbreak (1987), and collected stories, Him With His Foot in His Mouth (1984) and The Bellarosa Connection (1989). He also wrote several plays including The Last Analysis (1965).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.