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Bellow: A Biographyby James Atlas
Synopses & Reviews
With this masterly and original work, Bellow: A Biography, National Book Award nominee James Atlas gives the first definitive account of the Nobel Prize-winning authors turbulent personal and professional life, as it unfolded against the background of twentieth-century events—the Depression, World War II, the upheavals of the sixties—and amid all the complexities of the Jewish-immigrant experience in America, which generated a vibrant new literature.
Drawing upon a vast body of original research, including Bellows extensive correspondence with Ralph Ellison, Delmore Schwartz, John Berryman, Robert Penn Warren, John Cheever, and many other luminaries of the twentieth-century literary community, Atlas weaves a rich and revealing portrait of one of the most talented and enigmatic figures in American intellectual history.
Detailing Bellows volatile marriages and numerous tempestuous relation-ships with women, publishers, and friends, Bellow: A Biography is a magnificent chronicle of one of the premier writers in the English language, whose prize-winning works include Herzog, The Adventures of Augie March, and, most recently, Ravelstein.
"Because so many elements of his life show up in his novels, Saul Bellow presents a fascinating subject. James Atlas does a commendable job of giving the reader a fair idea of who Bellow is, what makes him tick, and how he transforms his life into art. Atlas names the names of the people behind the characters, and he shows how events from Bellow's life are altered when written into
his fiction—sometimes amusingly, sometimes cruelly. Atlas knows his stuff. He had access to Bellow, his papers and friends. And he also knows Bellow's books inside and out. This biography is almost as much fun to read as a new Bellow novel. Even as one discovers the limiting elements of Bellow's personality (the need to be adulated, the ceaseless infidelities), one can still appreciate the strengths that led to the great fiction. In the end, Bellow emerges as a composite of his various characters, and still distinct from them. The distinction is what makes reading this work worthwhile." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
In this brilliant and acclaimed biography of Saul Bellow--the Nobel Prize-winning author of "Herzog, The Adventures of Augie March, " and other bestselling books--James Atlas interlaces the stories of Bellow's fascinating and turbulent literary and romantic lives.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
About the Author
James Atlas is the founding editor of the Lipper/Viking Penguin Lives Series. A longtime contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, he was an editor at The New York Times Magazine for many years. His work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and many other journals. He is the author of Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and of a novel, The Great Pretender.
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