Michael Kimmage

Seizing the Day

The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964

By

Jonathan Cape 812pp £35 order from our bookshop

Saul Bellow lived out an emphatically American life. Born in 1915 in Canada, he is most closely associated with Chicago, where he resided for decades and taught at the University of Chicago. A fixture of the American literary scene from the 1950s until the early years of the 21st century, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976. Seize the Day, Herzog, Ravelstein – these Bellow novels all have their following among contemporary readers. Yet some of Bellow’s best work – Humboldt’s Gift, Mr Sammler’s Planet – has fallen into neglect. Literary academia does not know what to do with Bellow, a confident heterosexual white male whose explorations of race, in Henderson the Rain King and Mr Sammler’s Planet, seem lacking in empathy and whose explorations of gender, in all of his fiction, have nothing to do with feminism. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,