In an age of texting and Tweets, letters are completely archaic. Yet, in these pages, letters to John Cheever, Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Ralph Ellison, Cynthia Ozick, William Faulkner, his five wives, his sons, and his friends is where you’ll find plenty of the unguarded Saul Bellow that you won’t see in his novels, stories, or essays. Just read Bellow’s letter to a dying John Cheever. If your eyes don’t get misty, you have a heart of stone. Even in his letters to his editors, the Bellow eloquence and wit shine through. Bellow, inexplicably, isn’t taught at most colleges or universities any more. Despite his three National Book Awards, despite winning the Nobel Prize, Bellow is on his way to being forgotten. If you love wonderful writing, you’ll find it in these 700 letters!

14 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #93: SAUL BELLOW: LETTERS Edited by Benjamin Taylor

  1. Deb

    George, I know I’ve said it before, but I think the reason that Bellow is not taught much is his treatment of women–both in his fiction and in his life. The one snippet from your post above–“his five wives”–says a lot about Bellow and his times. I think the same is true for Roth and Mailer: Whatever their genius, they didn’t treat women very well and, as a result, reading lists shy away from them.

    1. george Post author

      Saul Bellow is the only writer to be nominated for the Nobel Prize six times, Patti. He is brilliant, but quirky. I think women readers pick this up right away.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    I noticed the “five wives” line too. Another of George’s favorites, Philip K. Dick had rather a checkered history with women as well (or is that an understatement?).

    Still, I’ve read a lot of collections of authors’ letters (the Henry James stands out) and will be trying this one as well.

  3. Todd Mason

    HERZOG was the first I read, after looking long and hard at HENDERSON THE RAIN KING on the Avon pb-laden racks that also held the Gregory Mcdonald and Art Buchwald books I did buy (also didn’t quite tip over into purchasing the A. Merritts), and then loved SEIZE THE DAY.

    Sadly, given all his wit and erudition, he just didn’t have good sense toward and with women. The correspondence around the magazine he co-edited, probably some of it collected here, is also worth reading.


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