The early years of the novelist were marked by a confidence that he would take his place in the literary pantheon. Review by Michael O’Donnell.
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The most exuberant and funny of all Bellow’s novels, Henderson the Rain King remained the author’s personal favorite. Its outsized hero, Eugene Henderson, a mountain of a man, a millionaire, the father of many, remains adrift. Aggrieved, worn-out, all but defeated he longs to set things straight. Following the promptings of his unforgettable inner voice—“I want, I want, I want”—our hero finds himself in Africa. Henderson makes his way into a mythic sun-baked interior, where among exotic tribes he finds fellow seekers, teachers and soulmates. Whether blowing up a cistern full of frogs or learning to walk without fear among the lions, soulful, zany Henderson intends to burst his “spirit’s sleep.”
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About 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.
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