Saul Bellow1915 – 2005
Early years Saul Bellow was born Solomon Bellows in Lachine, Quebec, Canada, two years after his parents emigrated from Saint Petersburg, Russia.A period of illness from a respiratory infection at age eight both taught him self-reliance (he was a very fit man despite his sedentary occupation) and provided an opportunity to satisfy his hunger for reading.When Bellow was nine, his family moved to the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago
Education and early career Bellow attended the University of Chicago but later transferred to Northwestern University.He originally wanted to study literature, but he felt the English department to be anti-Jewish; instead, he graduated with honors in anthropology and sociology.During World War II, Bellow joined the merchant marine.From 1946 through 1948 Bellow taught at the University of Minnesota.In the late 1950s he taught creative writing at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.
Nobel Prize Propelled by the success of Humboldt's Gift, Bellow won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1976.The following year, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Bellow for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievementin the humanities.His early works earned him the reputation as one of the foremost novelists of the 20th century
Humboldt's Gift (1975)
Private life Bellow was married five times, with all but his last marriage ending in divorce. His son by his second marriage, Adam, published a nonfiction book In Praise of Nepotism in 2003. Bellow's wives were Anita Goshkin, Alexandra Tsachacbasov, Susan Glassman, Alexandra Ionescu Tulcea and Janis Freedman. In 1999, when he was 84, Bellow had a daughter, Rosie, his fourth child, with Freedman.
Themes and style The author's works speak to the disorienting nature of modern civilization, and the countervailing ability of humans to overcome their frailty and achieve greatness (or at least awareness).Principal characters in Bellow's fiction have heroic potential, and many times they stand in contrast to the negative forces of society.Jewish life and identity is a major theme in Bellow's work, although he bristled at being called a "Jewish writer." Bellow's work also shows a great appreciation of America, and a fascination with the uniqueness and vibrancy of the American experience.
Novels and novellas
Novels and novellasNational Book Award for Fiction (1953) National Book Award (1964)
Novels and novellas National Book Award (1970)