“Mr Sammler’s Planet is really the first and only great classic of neoconservatism. Bellow’s character, Arthur Sammler, is a Polish Jewish émigré who survived World War II, raised on the great British liberalism of the early 20th century. His heroes are figures like H G Wells, a very pragmatic, quite utopian socialist. And Sammler, living in New York, sees and describes – and Bellow with his extraordinarily vivid tactile prose really brings it to life – the actual physical, sexual and moral decay of Manhattan. There is a kind of licentiousness in sexual relations, there is disdain for older, inherited values…Mr Sammler’s Planet made an enormous impression on me when I read it at the age of 18 or 19 when I was in college. It was the first time I had seen this great writer – probably the greatest of all modern American novelists – actually critique liberal assumptions. “ Read more...
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