Saul Bellow: A Biography of the Imagination

Ruth Miller, Author
Ruth Miller, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (385p) ISBN 978-0-312-03927-1
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This fan letter disguised as literary history offers a generally solid introduction to Bellow's life and work. Miller, an adjunct professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was among the novelist's early students, later becoming a friend and (in Bellow's words) a close ``intellectual companion.'' In tracing Bellow's development from aspiring writer to Nobel laureate, Miller draws on their correspondence, unpublished manuscripts in the Bellow archives (to which she enjoyed unlimited access) and her own lengthy interpretations of his works. The devotee painstakingly notes the autobiographical elements in her subject's corpus--furnishing accounts of his tortured family life--and presents the Bellow novel as a ``peripatetic journey through events that are long past and among people who are lost to him.'' But in chronicling the writer's ongoing literary development, Miller loses objectivity; using novels, letters, speeches and private conversations to let ``Bellow speak in his own voice about himself,'' she allows this to become, at times, a biography with a one-sided, excessively personal view. (May)
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