SAUL BELLOW: A Biography of the Imagination by Ruth Miller

SAUL BELLOW: A Biography of the Imagination

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A longtime friend of Bellow's offers a classic of the literary-fan genre: the lush, intimate, uncritical product of her 40-year association with Bellow and his writings. Meeting Bellow in a freshman composition course he was teaching in Chicago in 1938, Miller began a decades-long relationship that from the start was predicated on never becoming sexual. Bellow was looking for an ear into which to pour first drafts of his novels. Miller was the willing recipient, rushing home after each session with him and jotting down the subject of their meetings. Beginning with those initial gettogethers--when Bellow was reading to her from the lined yellow legal-sized pages that were to become his first novel, Dangling Man--right up until the time of the most recent novellas, Bellow has been reading and Miller has been listening. Meanwhile, she is an inveterate reader between the lines: fitting autobiographical detail into everything Bellow writes--tours are given of Bellow's childhood in Montreal and Chicago and how it shows up in his fiction; the transformations of famous friends like Delmore Schwartz, Isaac Rosenfeld, John Berryman, etc., into fictional characters are explained. We are given Bellow as a lovable (""his hands soft, open, waiting"") and slightly dotty crank (no cameras or tape recorders permitted at lectures and readings), but with an edge going back to his rejection by the English Department at Northwestern when he was told by the chairman ""that as a Jew and the son of Russian Jews, he would probably never have the right 'feeling' for Anglo Saxon traditions, for English words."" For connoisseurs of fans' writing and their objects of devotion.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's