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The final volume of the definitive authorised biography of one of the greatest American writers.
‘A moving testament to one of the last century’s greatest writers’ Sunday Times
At forty-nine, Saul Bellow was at the pinnacle of American letters – he was rich, famous and critically acclaimed, with the best yet to come: Mr Sammler’s Planet, Humboldt’s Gift, all his best stories. He went on to win two more National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize. However, away from his desk, Bellow's life was set to become embroiled in controversy: over foreign affairs, race, religion, education, social policy, the state of culture, the fate of the novel.
From the women he pursued and his turbulent family relations, to his struggles with cultural relativism and the perceived excesses of civil rights movements, this second and final volume of Zachary Leader's monumental Life of Saul Bellow charts Bellow's heroic energy and will throughout his life, right to the end - where his immense achievements and their costs, to himself and others, became ever more apparent.
'Compelling' Times Literary Supplement
'Riveting' New Statesman
'Superb' New York Times
This masterful account of the second half of Bellow's life from Leader (The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune 1915 1964) is impressive in both content and accessibility. The biography opens at an exciting point: Bellow, with the publication of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Herzog, catapults to the highest echelons of literary success. Leader combines Bellow's life story with close readings of his major (and sometimes minor) texts, highlighting the autobiographical content of Bellow's fiction. Although generous to Bellow, Leader shows the highly flawed person existing alongside the great writer. The book depicts a man caught up in mid-century notions of masculinity, displaying a volatile temper, expecting women to wait on him, and flaunting his dominance. While garnering an array of literary honors National Book Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Bellow continually disappoints his children and friends, and careens from affair to affair and marriage to marriage. Yet Leader has a talent for finding the redeeming details that humanize Bellow consideration to his assistant Mrs. Corbin; affection toward his only daughter, Naomi Rose, born when he was 84, five years before he died. Leader succeeds because his book never bogs down: despite its almost 800 pages, Leader knows when to move on, producing a compulsively readable biography.