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Happy Birthday, Saul Bellow!

By Kristin Masters. Jun 8, 2012. 4:22 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

Bellow was the only to win the National Book Award three times, and one of few to win the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. A quick look at some of Bellow’s best known works:

Saul Bellow
Sunday will be the birthday of legendary author Saul Bellow

Dangling Man

Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man was published in 1944. The book is considered an "apprentice work."  Dangling Man is told in diary format and follows the experiences of Joseph who is living in Chicago waiting to be drafted. Unemployed and dissatisfied, Joseph confesses his frustrations and worries.

The Adventures of Augie March

A picaresque novel, The Adventures of Augie March (1953) recounts the story of the eponymous protagonist, who grows up during the Great Depression. Both TIME  and the Modern Library Association have named this novel as one of the hundred best novels. It also won the 1954 National Book Award.

Seize the Day

Bellow’s fourth novel, Seize the Day was published in 1956. It is often considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The novel follows failed actor Wilhelm Adler through a “day in the life” and culminates with Adler’s epiphany regarding his own responsibility in his failures.

Henderson the Rain King

Also listed on the TIME list of 100 best novels, Henderson the Rain King  is also reportedly Bellow’s favorite of his own works; the novel’s protagonist is the character most similar to himself. The novel’s blend of philosophy and comic adventure have made it a longtime favorite for many readers and rare book collectors.


Published in 1964, Herzog is the story of Moses E Herzog, who is suffering a midlife crisis. The novel is largely epistolary. It won Bellow the National Book award and the Prix International. Herzog was also named to TIME’s list of the best books in the English language since “the beginning of TIME” (1923-2005).

Mr. Sammler’s Planet

Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970) explores Artur Sammler’s struggle to understand—and withstand—the madness around him. A Holocaust survivor, Sammler finds himself lost in a world obsessed with the promises of the future. The novel won Bellow the 1971 National Book Award for Fiction.

Humboldt’s Gift

Originally intended to be a short story, Humboldt’s Gift (1975) earned Bellow the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for literature. The story is a roman a clef that delves into the relationships between art, money, and power in America.


This was Bellow’s last novel, published in 2000. Ravelstein is written in memoir form and explores the complex relationship between two aging university professors who are grappling with their own mortality. Bellow based the title’s namesake character on philosopher Allan Bloom, with whom Bellow taught at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought.

Kristin Masters
Master Content Brain. You think it, she writes it, no good thought remains unposted. Sprinkles pixie dust on Google+, newsletters, blog, facebook, twitter and just about everything else.


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