Saul Bellow: Letters, edited by Benjamin Taylor (2010)
There Is Simply Too Much to Think About (Viking, 2015), collected non-fiction
A winner of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards and the National Medal of Honor, Saul Bellow was a long-time resident and chronicler of Chicago. The Adventures of Augie March is essentially a realistic fictional rendering of Bellow’s own childhood in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, where he was immersed in an immigrant neighborhood bubbling with a hodgepodge of European languages, cultures and customs that included a population of more than 100,000 Jewish residents. Bellow’s first novel, Dangling Man, which he completed while serving as a Merchant Marine in World War II, revolves around a young Chicago man waiting to be drafted. Herzog,Humboldt’s Gift,A Dean’s December,The Actual and Ravelstein all concern Chicago characters and places, and often Bellow drew from early memories to render his social settings. In the Paris Review, Bellow said, “I really do see those Chicago environments as I represent them. They suggest their own style of presentation. I elaborate it.” Bellow attended Tuley High School, and then Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. In the 1930s, Bellow was a part of the Works Progress Administration’s Writer’s Project. In 1962, he returned to Chicago to be a professor on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago; he remained part of the faculty more than 30 years. Ravelstein revolves around two University of Chicago professors, one of whom is widely acknowledged to be based on Bellow’s colleague Allan Bloom. Chicago designated the 2600-block of West Augusta “Saul Bellow Way” in a 2012 ceremony. He was elected into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2010.