Bellow: Novels 1970-1982: Mr. Sammler's Planet / Humboldt's Gift / The Dean's December

Bellow: Novels 1970-1982: Mr. Sammler's Planet / Humboldt's Gift / The Dean's December

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Overview

The third volume of The Library of America edition of Saul Bellow’s complete novels collects three essential works: Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), Humboldt’s Gift (1975), and The Dean’s December (1982). In each, Bellow shows himself a master of biting social commentary and bold characterization—above all through a trio of unforgettable protagonists. These novels, written in the period of Bellow’s greatest literary and popular acclaim—he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976—are unsparing yet humane, and range widely in their philosophical and cultural concerns. They offer the indispensable voice of a great American raconteur and thinker.

In Mr. Sammler’s Planet, the anarchic forces of late-1960s America are set loose on Artur Sammler, a highly cultured septuagenarian and European émigré who seeks “with God, to be free from the bondage of the ordinary and the finite.” A Holocaust survivor living out his latter days in Manhattan, Sammler endures the city’s everyday barbarism, as shocking as it is casual, and must contend with absurd complications when a manuscript goes missing. Written shortly before the first moon landing, the novel’s dark speculations, filtered through Sammler’s urbane intelligence, are cosmic in scope.

Humboldt’s Gift depicts the deep and troubled friendship between the tormented poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and the renowned writer Charlie Citrine. Humboldt has died in squalid obscurity, but for Citrine the memory of their earlier days persists as counterpoint to a middle age studded with difficulties: a messy divorce, a demanding mistress, and the attentions of a Chicago hoodlum who claims that Charlie has cheated him. Writing of the book’s “rich and suggestive” narrative voice, Sven Birkerts observes, “There is a feeling when reading this novel that a tightly rolled sultan’s carpet has splashed open before our eyes.”

In The Dean’s December, Albert Corde experiences totalitarianism firsthand when he travels to Bucharest to visit his dying mother-in-law. As a college dean in Chicago he has attracted controversy through his journalism and his role in a racially charged murder trial. Alternating between Romanian and American settings, the novel is a profound indictment of official hypocrisy and corruption on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781598530797
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 09/30/2010
Pages: 1056
Sales rank: 1,239,755
Product dimensions: 8.26(w) x 11.74(h) x 1.35(d)

About the Author

A literary giant, the novelist Saul Bellow (1915-2005) was one of the foremost chroniclers of the Jewish-American post-war experience. His many prizes include the Pulitzer, three National Book Awards, and the Nobel Prize, which he received in 1976 for the "human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work." Herzog, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, and the picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March are among his best-loved books.

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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