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October 21: Saul Bellow

October 20, 2015

bellow_saulSaul Bellow (1915-2005) won the Nobel Prize for Literature on this date in 1976, for writing that mixed, said the Nobel Committee, the “rich picaresque novel and subtle analysis of our culture... entertaining adventure, drastic and tragic episodes in quick succession interspersed with philosophic conversation... all developed by a commentator with a witty tongue and penetrating insight into the outer and inner complications that drive us to act, or prevent us from acting, and that can be called the dilemma of our age.” Bellow also won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, and the National Book Award for Fiction three times. Born in Quebec, he spent his childhood in Chicago and became part of the Chicago branch of the Works Progress Administration Writer’s Project. Bellow was a Trotskyist at that time in his life; he later came more into the orbit of the neoconservative Jews of the Commentary crowd and was crochety about feminism and multiculturalism. His best known works include Dangling Man (1944), The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Seize the Day (1956), Herzog (1964), Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), Humboldt’s Gift (1975), and The Dean’s December (1982).

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” —Saul Bellow