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

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

by Saul Bellow
 

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In this collection of more than thirty essays, published in The New York Times, Esquire and The New Republic, the vast range of Saul Bellow’s nonfiction is made abundantly clear. In Bellow’s capable hands, a single essay can range fluidly across topics as various as the talents of President Roosevelt, the economic narrative of Jay Gatsby, and

Overview

In this collection of more than thirty essays, published in The New York Times, Esquire and The New Republic, the vast range of Saul Bellow’s nonfiction is made abundantly clear. In Bellow’s capable hands, a single essay can range fluidly across topics as various as the talents of President Roosevelt, the economic narrative of Jay Gatsby, and childhood adventures in Chicago. In this rich mix of literary, political, and personal musings, Bellow is able to explore subjects as enormous as the writer’s search for truth, and as minute as the discomforts of a French doctors’ office. Traveling from Washington to Spain to the Sinai Peninsula, and profiling friends and characters such as John Cheever and John Berryman, Bellow is keenly focused and perceptive. These pages, spanning a lifetime of thought and debate, present provocative arguments and erudite literary criticism, all with the wry humor of a great storyteller. In It All Adds Up, Bellow turns his view away from the sparkling characters of his novels, and towards the conditions and qualities of his own experience of writing and living.

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''
Donna Seaman
In his preface to this collection of nonfiction work, Bellow reflects on what he would say differently if he wrote some of the older pieces now. This second guessing sets the tone for this entire dichotomous volume; rigorous and devilish throughout, Bellow consistently sees all sides to an issue and continually airs the sort of existential doubt any keen observer of humanity is bound to acquire. This tension enlivens his pugnacious prose, which also echoes the skittish energy of his longtime hometown, Chicago. Bellow's sentences have a jab and parry to them that echo Chicago's bluster, cultural self-doubt, and ruthlessness. A born storyteller, Bellow is at his best in essays on his Chicago childhood and in deft characterizations of towering figures such as Mozart and FDR. Bellow is fascinated by history, genius, politics, and the aura of places as diverse as Galena, Illinois; Paris; Vermont; and Tuscany. His essays are organized into loose, topical groupings rather than chronological order. For instance, his striking 1976 Nobel lecture is followed by a revealing 1993 piece titled "Writers, Intellectuals, Politics: Mainly Reminiscence," and the continuity of thought and attitude is notable. If there is a main theme here, it's Bellow's perception of the great divide between artists and intellectuals. Again and again, Bellow contrasts cognition with imagination, rails against the pomposity and sterility of the academy, and praises the soulfulness of art. Several question-and-answer pieces, "An Interview with Myself" (1975), "A Half Life" (1990), and "A Second Half Life" (1991), present us with scrappy self-portraits that throw both Bellow's gift for writing and crusty worldview into high relief.
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781623730338
Publisher:
Odyssey Editions
Publication date:
05/03/2016
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
327
File size:
481 KB

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Meet the Author

A fiction writer, essayist, playwright, lecturer, and memoirist, Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937 and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin before serving in the Marines during World War II. Later, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, Bellow served as a war correspondent for Newsday. Throughout his long and productive career, he contributed fiction to several magazines and quarterlies, including The New Yorker, Partisan Review, Playboy, and Esquire, as well as criticism to The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The New Leader, and others. Universally recognized as one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century, Bellow has won more honors than almost any other American writer. Among these, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Humboldt's Gift and the B’nai B’rith Jewish Heritage Award for “excellence in Jewish literature.” He was the first American to win the International Literary Prize, and remains the only novelist in history to have received three National Book awards, for The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, and Mr. Sammler's Planet. In 1976, Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.” Saul Bellow died in 2005 at age 89.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
June 10, 1915
Date of Death:
April 5, 2005
Place of Birth:
Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Place of Death:
Brookline, Massachusetts
Education:
University of Chicago, 1933-35; B.S., Northwestern University, 1937

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