Saul Bellow (1915—2005) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and playwright. He was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction three times (1954, 1965 and 1971), the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1976), and the Nobel Prize in Literature (1976). His works include The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Seize the Day (1956), Henderson the Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970), and Humboldt's Gift (1975).
Life and Works
Bellow was born June 10, 1915, in Lachine, Quebec, Canada, and moved with his family to Chicago in 1924. He attended the University of Chicago, received a Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, and served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. He wrote two novels, Dangling Man and The Victim, before becoming successful with The Adventures of Augie March, the story of Augie's failed relationships and careers in the postwar era. It was during that time that he was influenced by Trotskyism, Dostoevsky, and rejected Hemingway's ideals, though as he improved as a writer he became somewhat conservative.
This newer prose made him and other Jewish authors successful, and much of it is considered the superior and most realistic description of the Great Depression in Chicago. He was known for vivid, beautiful prose compared to that of America's greatest, Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. He wrote Henderson the Rain King, about an American millionaire in Africa, and many stories about Jewish intellectuals' internal monologues before dying on April 5, 2005.
- The New York Public Library Student's Desk Reference. Prentice Hall: New York, 1991.