Books by Saul Bellow
“What Bellow does — magically almost — is to make the schlemiel into a liberal humanist. Herzog is cuckolded. Here you have this great intellectual, this man who has written a tome on romanticism, Moses Herzog, a prominent professor and what happens? His best friend is making out with his wife and everybody knows about it. The only person who doesn’t know about it is he. That’s a classic comic situation, from Chaucer onwards everybody has always made the cuckold into a comic figure. But here again, Herzog is in control of the narrative. Everything in the book is seen from his perspective…It’s actually one of the most autobiographical works that Bellow wrote. Not only in the sense of being based on the facts of his life, but in that he really draws on his own childhood, on his own use of Yiddish. Bellow was one of the best Yiddish speakers I ever met in my life” Read more...
The best books on Jewish Humour
Ruth Wisse, Literary Scholar
“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...
The best books on Conservatism and Culture
Sam Tanenhaus, Journalist
Interviews where books by Saul Bellow were recommended
The best books on Conservatism and Culture, recommended by Sam Tanenhaus
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review from 2004 to 2013, explains how the American right reinvented itself as a cultural counter-revolution and selects five books as backgrounders to conservatism.
The best books on Jewish Humour, recommended by Ruth Wisse
Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard and author of No Joke: Making Jewish Humour, identifies Tevye the Dairyman as the first standup comic and Sigmund Freud as Jewish humour’s greatest analyst.