10 June 2015

A Rant on Saul Bellow's 100th Birthday



Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of Saul Bellow's birth.

Take my word for it.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature and the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada have no entries. Why should they? After all, he was only born in Canada. He only began his education in Canada. He only decided to become a writer in Canada.

Saul Bellow wasn't even ten when his family left for the States.

Those aren't formative years, right?

Weird that we named a library after him.

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7 comments:

  1. It's difficult. I don't think of Bellow as being a "Canadian writer", his fame and reputation came when he lived in the States and he doesn't write about Canada. Technically, he's Canadian. How did being born in Canada affect his writing? If at all? I'm divided on this...

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    1. I find these things difficult to quantify, Stephen. I think of Bellow as an American writer first and foremost, but at the same time recognize that those early years must have had great influence - as they did on us all. The child is the father of man and all that.

      Always interesting to consider that Lachine figures in Dangling Man, his first novel, and is the setting of “By the St. Lawrence", his last short story, in which an aging writer named Rexler returns to his birthplace.

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  2. He was the Jonathan Frantzen of the seventies and eighties. I sure would claim him.

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  3. What's this? You're still posting?

    Oh Brian, I took you off my weekly blog lists (Wednesdays, I think) because you were so very clear that your regular posting days were over. (I came back here today through an old link at Leaves and Pages.)

    Well, I guess I have some reading to catch up on now. :^)

    (And thanks for your note re The Whole She-Bang 2)

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    1. I do tend to go on, Susan. The best I can say is that I'm posting less and reviewing far fewer books. That said, there is some new stuff on Margaret and Kenneth Millar. I expect you're not surprised.

      Here's hoping for a Whole She-Bang 3!

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  4. I suspect that the national identity of writers -- formerly a useful label -- has become (or will soon become much) less significant than in the past; the globalization of culture tends to erase those labels. But I could be quite wrong. As for Bellow, I have never thought of him in terms of national identity. He has always been more connected with being a Jewish writer. Perhaps that is also an unfortunate and obsolete label. You tell me.

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    1. What with all our moving about you may be right, R.T. I was amused last month to see Patrick White described as having received the only Nobel Prize in Literature awarded an Australian. This was followed by some gymnastics in which it was explained that the 2003 recipient, J.M. Croetzee had immigrated to Australia in 2002, but had not become an Australian citizen until 2006.

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