It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future


Saul Bellow's fiction, honored by a Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer, among other awards, has made him a literary giant. Now the man himself and a lifetime of his insightful views on a range of topics spring off the page in this, his first nonfiction collection, which encompasses articles, lectures, essays, travel pieces, and an "Autobiography of Ideas." It All Adds Up is a fascinating journey through literary America over the last forty years, guided by one of the "most gifted ...
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Saul Bellow's fiction, honored by a Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer, among other awards, has made him a literary giant. Now the man himself and a lifetime of his insightful views on a range of topics spring off the page in this, his first nonfiction collection, which encompasses articles, lectures, essays, travel pieces, and an "Autobiography of Ideas." It All Adds Up is a fascinating journey through literary America over the last forty years, guided by one of the "most gifted chroniclers in the Western World" (The London Times).

Saul Bellow, who will be celebrating his 80th birthday in June 1995, offers an eclectic collection of insightful views on a wide variety of topics, ranging from a tribute to Mozart to remembrances of friends such as John Cheever and Allan Bloom to myriad ruminations on his beloved city of Chicago. NPR sponsorship.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fans of Nobel Prize-winning author Bellow should enjoy this wide-ranging selection of more than 30 nonfiction pieces--lectures and articles reprinted from Esquire , the New Republic , the New York Times , etc. Bellow's roving and astute eye produces memorable reportage, such as a portrait of a retired Chicago con man and other Windy City scenes, and his view of the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. He also offers neat sketches of colleagues like Allan Bloom, John Berryman and John Cheever. But the meat of the book is Bellow's tart, sometimes dyspeptic cultural commentary, exemplified by his Nobel Lecture criticizing writers for failing to challenge orthodoxies, and his laments at the useless distractions of the Information Revolution and the intellectual frivolities of bohemian New York City. Invoking Tolstoy, Nabokov and Flaubert, among others, Bellow muses on the novelist's responsibilities and, in three lively interviews, offers illuminating autobiographical reflections on reading, writing, teaching and life (``I've had more metamorphoses than I can count''). 50,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Bellow is America's writer, and in this superb collection of nonfiction essays he demonstates his vigilance of and loyalty to his country over a span of 45 years. From his earliest piece, a war report from Spain written for the Partisan Review (1948), to his Novel Prize lecture (1976), to a recent Forbes article entitled ``There Is Simply Too Much To Think About,'' Bellow is consumed by the idea of America--so great, so accomplished, so magical--destroying its soul. ``The cost of all the great successes,'' he writes in ``The Jefferson Lectures'' (1977), ``may be the abasement of man.'' The Chicago native is the conscience of his city, and Washington, and New York . He reports from the Sinai during the Six Day War and mingles at White House dinners; his trenchant observations rip through the standard rigmarole. The years have sharpened his craft, and his memory. An essential purchase, this just might kindle interest in Bellow's oeuvre ( More Die of Heartbreak ; Humboldt's Gift ) among a younger generation.-- Amy Boaz, ``Library Journal''
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
"It All Adds Up" is almost pedestrian in its rootedness in the solid world. The pieces are rigidly discursive and largely about a universe of more pedestrian facts....What Mr. Bellow traces in this collection is his tortuous route to the threshold of easiness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140233650
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1995
  • Series: Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 687,164
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
A literary giant, Saul Bellow loomed large over writers attempting the Great American Novel, since many would argue that he has already achieved this feat at least once over. He was considered a foremost chronicler of the Jewish-American post-war experience, but the "human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work" are what won him the Nobel, and helped him transcend cultural and national borders.


Praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose, Saul Bellow was born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines.

His first two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day (1956); Henderson the Rain King (1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970); Humboldt's Gift (1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December (1982); More Die of Heartbreak (1987);Theft (1988); The Bellarosa Connection (1989); The Actual (1996); and, most recently, Ravelstein (2000). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up, a collection of memoirs and essays.

Bellow's many awards included the International Literary Prize for Herzog, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."

Bellow passed away on April 5, 2005 at the age of 89.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Solomon Bellow (real name)
      Saul Bellow
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 10, 1915
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lachine, Quebec, Canada
    1. Date of Death:
      April 5, 2005
    2. Place of Death:
      Brookline, Massachusetts

Table of Contents

Mozart: An Overture

Part One: Riding Off in All Directions
In the Days of Mr. Roosevelt
Literary Notes on Khrushchev
The French as Dostoyevsky Saw Them
A Talk with the Yellow Kid

Part Two: Writers, Intellectuals, Politics
The Sealed Treasure
Facts That Put Fancy to Flight
White House and Artists
A Matter of the Soul
An Interview with Myself
Nobel Lecture
Writers, Intellectuals, Politics: Mainly Reminiscence

Part Three: The Distracted Public
The Jefferson Lectures
The Distracted Public
There Is Simply Too Much to Think About

Part Four: Thoughts in Transition
Spanish Letter
Illinois Journey
Israel: The Six-Day War
New York: World-Famous Impossibility
The Day They Signed the Treaty
My Paris
Chicago: The City That Was, the City That Is
Vermont: The Good Place
Winter in Tuscany

Part Five: A Few Farewells
Isaac Rosenfeld
John Berryman
John Cheever
Allan Bloom
William Arrowsmith
Part Six: Impressions and Notions
A Half Life
A Second Half Life

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2000

    A Candid but Accurate View of the World!

    Saul Bellow discusses issues without pulling punches; he tells it 'like it is.' How refreshing it is to read history as it occurred rather than a glossed over version. As a correspondent and as a writer, Saul Bellows gives a more accurate account than what is found in most history books. Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976!

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