Critical Insights: Saul Bellow

Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, or a literary theme.

At a Glance
  • 1 Volume; 300 Pages
  • 10-14 essays offering Current Critical Analysis by Top Literary Scholars
  • Introductory Essay by the Editor
  • Chronology of Author's Life
  • Complete List of Author's Works
  • Publication Dates of Works
  • Detailed Bio of the Editor
  • General Bibliography
  • General Subject Index
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Editor: Allan Chavkin, Texas State University
September 2011 · 1 volume · 360 pages · 6"x9"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase
ISBN: 978-1-58765-824-2
# of Pages: 360
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
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e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-877-8
eBook Single User Price: $105

This volume presents a wide-ranging selection of essays on Saul Bellow's fiction. The essays employ a variety of literary approaches, and all of the full-length novels and two of the most important novellas are discussed at length.

In addition to his novels and important novellas, this volume addresses Bellow's best collection of shorter works, Him with His Food in His Mouth and Other Stories. Other essays examine Bellow's most anthologized early story, "Looking for Mr. Green" (1951), and the one of his best stories of the latter part of his career, the elegiac "Something to Remember Me By" (1990).

This volume is divided into four sections. The first section consists of a short biographical sketch of Bellow's life and an introduction to Bellow's work. The second section presents four new essays commissioned specifically for this book by distinguished Bellow critics. The third section includes fourteen reprinted essays that not only offer provocative and thoughtful readings of the major texts but also collectively reflect the history of criticism on Bellow's work. These are organized chronologically by the novels that they examine, from Dangling Man (1944) to Ravelstein (2000). Essays on two of Bellow's short stories concluding this third section. Finally, the fourth section provides a chronology of Bellow's life, a list of his books, and a selected bibliography of literary criticism on his work.

Significant highlights include an explanation of how Bellow's sickness during his childhood, which resulted in an extended separation from his family when he was hospitalized at one point, transformed him into a voracious reader and also made him sensitive to mortality and "the struggle for life." There is also an essay that describes how the dominant feature of Saul Bellow's relation to his cultural and historical context is his absolute refusal to be defined by it.

Also covered are his critical reception and the variety of critical interpretations that each of Bellow's works prompted. In this same vein, another discusses the paradoxical situation in which critics present psychological readings of Bellow's novels even though the author himself disdains psychology. The experience of the holocaust in his writing is explored and contrasted with Bernard Malamud's.

Individual works are explored in detail, including Dangling Man (1944), The Victim (1947), The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Seize the Day (1956), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970). Humboldt's Gift (1975), The Dean's December (1982), Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories (1984), More Die of Heartbreak (1987), The Bellarosa Connection (1989), and Ravelstein (2000).

Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

A chronology of the author's life
A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
A general bibliography
A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
Notes on the individual chapter authors
A subject index