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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   



14. Becoming Visible

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- James Baldwin
- Saul Bellow
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Ralph Ellison
- Bernard Malamud
- Paule Marshall
- Arthur Miller
- N. Scott Momaday
- Grace Paley
- Philip Roth
- Suggested
Author
Pairings
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Saul Bellow (b. 1915)

Free Classes in English! Learn to Speak, Read, & Write the Language of your Children ... Special Classes for Educated Foreign Born. N.Y.C.
[3048] Anonymous, Free Classes in English! Learn to Speak, Read, & Write the Language of your Children ... Special Classes for Educated Foreign Born. N.Y.C. (1936), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC2-946].

Saul Bellow Activities
This link leads to artifacts, teaching tips and discussion questions for this author.
Saul Bellow remains one of the most important post-World War II Jewish American writers. Like Roth, Malamud, and Paley, he offers a Jewish perspective on themes of alienation and "otherness" during an age of postwar fragmentation, materialism, and conformity. Like Anzia Yezierska and Abraham Cahan a generation before him, he translates the Yiddish American experience into English.

Born to parents who emigrated from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1913, Bellow, the fourth and youngest child, grew up in the Jewish ghetto of Montreal and learned to speak both Yiddish and English. In 1924 he moved with his family to Chicago, the city that would influence much of his early fiction. He attended the University of Chicago and then transferred to Northwestern University, from which he graduated in 1937 with a degree in anthropology and sociology. He then moved to New York. His plan was to begin graduate work at New York University, but he married instead and eventually moved back to Chicago in 1962. Chicago became the setting for many of his novels of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993 he accepted a position in the English department at Boston University. Early in his career, Bellow cultivated a friendship with fellow writer Ralph Ellison-an often-forgotten point in the controversy surrounding his much debated stance on Jewish-African American relations and the attacks he endured for the supposed racism of such novels as Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970).

Bellow wrote his first book, Dangling Man (1944), while serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II and followed it with The Victim in 1947. In 1976 his novel Humboldt's Gift won the Pulitzer Prize. His analysis of American cultural anxiety and his belief in the possibility of greatness in spite of human frailty and failure are at the core of much of his work. Bellow's prolific output includes the frequently anthologized novella Seize the Day (1956), The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), The Dean's December (1982), and Ravelstein (2000). He has also written plays and short stories.




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