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
(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).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies