Cover image for Saul Bellow : a biography of the imagination
Saul Bellow : a biography of the imagination
Miller, Ruth, 1921-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1991.
Physical Description:
xxiii, 385 pages ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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Material Type
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PS3503.E4488 Z76 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Miller, one of Saul Bellow's students in the 1930s and a longtime friend (at least until she wrote this biocritical study of the American writer), offers a densely argued account of just how Bellow's personal life has influenced the literary world of his novels and stories. Miller knows both the private and the public Bellow, and she uses this knowledge to draw parallels between many aspects of her subject's life and work. The impression that Miller has cut close to the bone is confirmed by Bellow's prepublication protests that resulted in a nine-month delay in the book's printing. Bellow has always possessed a rather cantankerous and defensive personal side, and Miller's use of her privileged access may have offended him. The resulting changes in the text appear to be minimal, however, with the revisions not even noting Bellow's swelling number of marriages (the novelist recently walked down the aisle for the fifth time). Still, the portrait of Bellow that emerges here seems drawn from real life and from long experience with both the man and his writing. Appendixes and sources. --John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

This fan letter disguised as literary history offers a generally solid introduction to Bellow's life and work. Miller, an adjunct professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was among the novelist's early students, later becoming a friend and (in Bellow's words) a close ``intellectual companion.'' In tracing Bellow's development from aspiring writer to Nobel laureate, Miller draws on their correspondence, unpublished manuscripts in the Bellow archives (to which she enjoyed unlimited access) and her own lengthy interpretations of his works. The devotee painstakingly notes the autobiographical elements in her subject's corpus--furnishing accounts of his tortured family life--and presents the Bellow novel as a ``peripatetic journey through events that are long past and among people who are lost to him.'' But in chronicling the writer's ongoing literary development, Miller loses objectivity; using novels, letters, speeches and private conversations to let ``Bellow speak in his own voice about himself,'' she allows this to become, at times, a biography with a one-sided, excessively personal view. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is no dispassionate work of literary criticism but rather an effort ``to interpret the progress of the writer from the time he first appeared in print to his most recent publication, taking into account especially the initial reception that greeted each work.'' Miller, Bellow's friend for 50 years, discusses his novels, short stories, plays, essays, lectures, interviews, and speeches, emphasizing the struggle and hard work that have led to Bellow's acclaim. What distinguishes this book is Miller's point of view. Using her journal entries to record countless informal conversations, she peppers her unique account with personal vignettes of Bellow, whom she sometimes calls Saul. Her high regard of her subject is never hidden. Recommended for large collections.--John Miller, Normandale Community Coll., Bloomington, Minn. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.