The Frailty, Vanity and Duality of Saul Bellow

Leo Robson at The New Statesman:

Is this a good moment – propitious, welcoming – for the appearance of a long, rich and unflaggingly detailed account of the later life of Saul Bellow? Ten years in the making, Zachary Leader’s biography was rubber-stamped at an earlier and distinctively different point in time. Then, the writer still reflected the glow of adulation – from the reviews of James Atlas’s single-volume biography Bellow(2000); his final novel Ravelstein (2000) and his Collected Stories (2001); from the 50th-anniversary tributes to The Adventures of Augie March in 2003 and the appearance, the same year, of the Library of America compendium, Novels 1944-1953; and from the obituaries and memorial essays that appeared on his death in 2005, aged 89. When, around that time, I starting getting interested in fiction, I was made to feel about Bellow’s writing more or less what Charlie Citrine, in Humboldt’s Gift (1975), recalls feeling about Leon Trotsky in the 1930s – that if I didn’t read him at once, I wouldn’t be worth conversing with.

more here.

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