Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
The Life of Saul Bellow, Volume 1
Cover of The Life of Saul Bellow, Volume 1
The Life of Saul Bellow, Volume 1
To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964
Borrow Borrow

For much of his adult life, Saul Bellow was the most acclaimed novelist in America, the winner of, among other awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature, three National Book Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. The Life of Saul Bellow, by the literary scholar and biographer Zachary Leader, marks the centenary of Bellow’s birth as well as the tenth anniversary of his death. It draws on unprecedented access to Bellow’s papers, including much previously restricted material, as well as interviews with more than 150 of the novelist’s relatives, close friends, colleagues, and lovers, a number of whom have never spoken to researchers before. Through detailed exploration of Bellow’s writings, and the private history that informed them, Leader chronicles a singular life in letters, offering original and nuanced accounts not only of the novelist’s development and rise to eminence, but of his many identities—as writer, polemicist, husband, father, Chicagoan, Jew, American.
The biography will be published in two volumes. The first volume, To Fame and Fortune: 1915–1964, traces Bellow’s Russian roots; his birth and early childhood in Quebec; his years in Chicago; his travels in Mexico, Europe, and Israel; the first three of his five marriages; and the novels from Dangling Man and The Adventures of Augie March to the best-selling Herzog. New light is shed on Bellow’s fellow writers, including Ralph Ellison, John Berryman, Lionel Trilling, and Philip Roth, and on his turbulent and influential life away from the desk, which was as full of incident as his fiction. Bellow emerges as a compelling character, and Leader’s powerful accounts of his writings, published and unpublished, forward the case for his being, as the critic James Wood puts it, “the greatest of American prose stylists in the twentieth century.”
 

For much of his adult life, Saul Bellow was the most acclaimed novelist in America, the winner of, among other awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature, three National Book Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. The Life of Saul Bellow, by the literary scholar and biographer Zachary Leader, marks the centenary of Bellow’s birth as well as the tenth anniversary of his death. It draws on unprecedented access to Bellow’s papers, including much previously restricted material, as well as interviews with more than 150 of the novelist’s relatives, close friends, colleagues, and lovers, a number of whom have never spoken to researchers before. Through detailed exploration of Bellow’s writings, and the private history that informed them, Leader chronicles a singular life in letters, offering original and nuanced accounts not only of the novelist’s development and rise to eminence, but of his many identities—as writer, polemicist, husband, father, Chicagoan, Jew, American.
The biography will be published in two volumes. The first volume, To Fame and Fortune: 1915–1964, traces Bellow’s Russian roots; his birth and early childhood in Quebec; his years in Chicago; his travels in Mexico, Europe, and Israel; the first three of his five marriages; and the novels from Dangling Man and The Adventures of Augie March to the best-selling Herzog. New light is shed on Bellow’s fellow writers, including Ralph Ellison, John Berryman, Lionel Trilling, and Philip Roth, and on his turbulent and influential life away from the desk, which was as full of incident as his fiction. Bellow emerges as a compelling character, and Leader’s powerful accounts of his writings, published and unpublished, forward the case for his being, as the critic James Wood puts it, “the greatest of American prose stylists in the twentieth century.”
 

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book 6
    Anita/Dangling
     
    The girl’s name was Anita Goshkin and Bellow met her in Hyde Park in the summer of 1936, before the start of his senior year at Northwestern. By the spring of 1937 they were engaged. Anita had been at the University of Chicago only a year, having transferred from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as a junior (shortly after the death of her father, which suggests the move may have been motivated by family or financial considerations). The “grimy” sociology books she carried at their first meeting were for a summer course at the university. She was six months older than Bellow, born on December 12, 1914, and like him lived on the North Side, in Ravenswood, a modest suburb of small courtyard apartment buildings. Bellow told his son Greg that he’d had his eye on Anita for some time, before gathering the courage to speak to her. Her cousin and childhood playmate, Beebee Schenk (later de Regniers), was a friend of Bellow’s, and may have told him to look out for her.1 On their first date, they went swimming in Lake Michigan off the Point, a Hyde Park landmark. In Herzog, Bellow fictionalizes the moment they met. Moses sees Daisy, who will become his first wife, under the El at 51st Street. Pretty and fresh in appearance, with large “slant green” eyes, she wears a simple seersucker dress and small white shoes. Her “golden but lustreless” hair is held in place by a barrette and her legs are bare. Moses sees the square-cut neck of her dress as expressive of character: “stability, symmetry, order, containment were Daisy’s strength.” Her “laundered purity” also strikes him, as does her coolness and regular features, those of “a conventional Jewish woman.” As Moses stands behind her on the El platform, a “fragrance of summer apples” rises from her bare neck and shoulders (pp. 542–43).2
     
    This fragrance is also expressive, for Daisy is a country girl of sorts, raised near Zanesville, Ohio. Anita came from a similar background, in Lafayette, Indiana, not exactly the country, but not Chicago either. Her parents, like Bellow’s, were Russian immigrants. Her father, Morris, arrived from the Crimea after the pogroms of 1905, settling in Lafayette for the same reason the Bellows settled first in Lachine then in Chicago: because he had relatives there. He worked as a milkman, then opened an ice cream parlor. What Greg Bellow remembers hearing of his maternal grandfather is that he was “quiet, kind and gentle.” It was Sonia, Morris’s wife, a forceful, opinionated, modern woman, a suffragette in Russia, who ruled the roost, encouraging her daughters to be independent and insisting that they go to college.3
     
    Like Bellow, Anita was the only member of her family to be born in the New World. A late arrival, she was much doted on. She had two brothers, Jack (also known as J.J.) and Max, seventeen and ten years older, and two sisters, Catherine and Ida, sixteen and fourteen years older. The sisters became librarians, earned higher degrees in library science, traveled in Europe, were lovers of high culture, and never married. When they retired, they moved to New York, living together in an apartment close to Lincoln Center, to be near the ballet. Of the brothers, Jack, the eldest, had an affair in college with a non-Jewish girl. When she got pregnant, he married her. According to Greg, Anita’s mother was so scandalized by these events, “that, basically, she forced Jack to divorce . . . and move back in.” Jack’s son, Jack Jr., was raised out of state by his mother and on...
About the Author-
  • ZACHARY LEADER is professor of English literature at the University of Roehampton in London. An American citizen, he has lived in Britain for more than forty years. In addition to teaching at Roehampton, he has held visiting professorships at Caltech and the University of Chicago. He was educated at Northwestern University; Trinity College, Cambridge; and Harvard University, and is the author of Reading Blake's Songs, Writer's Block, Revision and Romantic Authorship, and The Life of Kingsley Amis, a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. He has edited Romantic Period Writings, 1798--1832: An Anthology (with Ian Haywood); The Letters of Kingsley Amis; On Modern British Fiction; Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Major Works (with Michael O'Neill); and The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie, and Their Contemporaries. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.



Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 9, 2015
    The first volume in this exhaustive project follows Nobel laureate Bellow’s life up to 1964 and the publication of Herzog. (A planned second volume of the biography will cover the last 40 years of Bellow’s life.) Leader (The Life of Kingsley Amis) begins with Bellow’s ancestors in Russia and walks us through his move as a child from Quebec to Chicago. From there, Leader follows Bellow to New York City; Minneapolis; Paris; Princeton, N.J.; Pyramid Lake, Nev.; and Río Piedras, P.R., reading through Bellow’s writing the same sense of itinerancy. Leader describes each year of Bellow’s professional and romantic life in extensive detail, drawing upon collected letters and new interviews. That life proves to be populated by dozens of friends, girlfriends, colleagues, and acquaintances, each of whom is contextualized and described in depth here. Yet exhaustiveness is not a substitute for biographical insight, and Bellow as a living, breathing person remains somewhat elusive among all these stories and cul-de-sacs. That said, Leader has many valuable insights into Bellow, such as how he made use of his life in his novels, sometimes hurting others’ feelings when they discovered versions of themselves in his books. An impressive achievement, this biography gives noble due to one of the 20th century’s most significant writers.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2015

    The broad brushstrokes of the life of Saul Bellow (1915-2005), one of America's most decorated writers, have been calcified as legend, none more than the image of the irascible lion in winter looking back on his extraordinary life with a sense of both accomplishment and regret. But to fully understand Bellow at the end of his life, one must return to the first five decades: the son of Russian immigrants settling in Quebec before landing in the chaos and exuberant energy of prewar Chicago; a young man discovering the world and his attraction to women and the penning of his debut novel, Dangling Man, during World War II; the budding artist cultivating his passion in the early and mid-career novels (The Adventures of Augie March; Herzog); and his myriad relationships with the most accomplished writers and intellectuals of the day. "The competing claims of life and art...is a prominent theme in many biographies," Leader (English literature, Roehampton Univ., UK; The Life of Kingsley Amis) writes. "It was also a theme in Bellow's fiction." Leader takes that nexus of life and art as his starting point. Drawing on previously unavailable material and scores of interviews for the first volume in a projected two-volume study, Leader delivers a definitive portrait of Bellow's first 50 years. VERDICT A necessary work for any reader interested in 20th-century literature or literary biography. This completes the picture recently sketched out by Greg Bellow (Saul Bellow's Heart) and Saul himself in the collected nonfiction title There Is Simply Too Much To Think About (edited by Benjamin Taylor). [See Prepub Alert, 11/24/14.]--Patrick A. Smith, Bainbridge State Coll., GA

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Philip Roth "Since Saul Bellow--along with William Faulkner--constitutes the sturdy backbone of 20th century American literature, a biography as lavishly detailed and craftily organized as Mr. Leader's is a necessary addition to the library of major biographies of our strongest writers. Despite Bellow's every effort to find order and serenity in which to do his work, his life, as it is meticulously presented here, was no less wild and original than his novels , a turbulence of crises that might have killed him had they not been magically transfigured by a prose style as rich and roiling as Melville's into one of the liveliest, brainiest collections of vivid American fiction that is ours to treasure."
  • Richard Holmes "A dazzling piece of work--a tremendous achievement--it draws the reader in wonderfully well, with its almost manic attention to biographical detail, and its inspired interweaving of Bellow's autobiography with his fiction. It's shrewd and scholarly throughout; but also lavish, entertaining and frequently mischievous. Young Bellow himself comes steadily surging through, getting bigger and bigger: clever, ambitious, philandering, mordant, magnificent, dominating and always furiously typing, typing, typing. In a word, this Volume One has all the makings of an American epic. I enjoyed it immensely."
  • Elaine Showalter "Zachary Leader has written a multi-layered book about a colossal American literary life. His research is prodigious, his curiosity about Saul Bellow's epic career limitless, and he reinvents biography as a four-dimensional narrative of time, space, perspective, and genre. Leader sets forth Bellow's life history through his interviews and letters as well as those of his huge extended family, his wives, mistresses, children, friends, enemies, neighbors, colleagues, critics, rivals, teachers, students, agents, editors, and publishers, and through analyses of Bellow's books and stories about them, and their books and stories about him. On a grand scale, as enthralling as it is masterful, The Life of Saul Bellow is one of the great biographies of our time."
  • Brenda Wineapple "Richly detailed, Zachary Leader's admiring but clear-eyed chronicle of Saul Bellow's youth, talent, and his struggle for recognition is nuanced, impassioned, and capacious; from him we meet Bellow as if for the first time, as friend, lover, father, husband, American, and Jew-- and of course as the writer who energetically resisted despair and cynicism with his profound commitment to literature and to life. An essential book-- more than a biography, it's the story of American letters in the twentieth century."
  • Morris Dickstein "Zachary Leader has read everything, interviewed everyone, and woven it all together into a biography of Saul Bellow on a grand scale. Staggering in its research, rich with insight into the relationships between his family origins, the lives he pursued, the people he knew, and the books he wrote, this account lays bare the alchemy of Bellow's imagination and the sources of his literary achievement in profuse and arresting detail."
  • James Shapiro "This will stand as the definitive account of the making of Saul Bellow, an absorbing story of how a determined young writer emerged as one of the twentieth-century's most celebrated novelists."
  • New York Review of Books "Unsurpassable. It is a valuable resource, and the prose is clear and poised."
  • New York Magazine "Leader gratifyingly shows how Bellow transformed his personal limitations into liberating art."
  • Washington Post "Will surely become the standard biography of Bellow for years to come."
  • The New Yorker "The most purely delicious literary biography that I've come across. Leader's calm, gradual, but serenely excited prose vibrates with the joy of his thought coalescing with his subject."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "Leader does full justice to both life and oeuvre in this chronicle of Bellow's struggle. . . . Leader's biography has the vital virtue of ringing true. . . . Leader's life of Saul Bellow is not merely head and shoulders above its predecessors, but given the depth of his research and judgment and its broad scope, it is hard to ima
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 99 titles every 1 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.

Close

Please update to the latest version of the OverDrive app to stream videos.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
The Life of Saul Bellow, Volume 1
The Life of Saul Bellow, Volume 1
To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964
Zachary Leader
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel