06 April 2005

Saul Bellow (1915-2005)

Nobel Prize novelist Bellow dies

Novelist Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976, has died in Massachusetts, aged 89.

He was brought up in Chicago, and much of his work deals with that city and the experience of Jews and immigrants in 20th Century America.

Bellow's novels included Seize The Day, Henderson The Rain King, Herzog, Mr Sammler's Planet and Humboldt's Gift.

His friend Walter Pozen said the writer had been in declining health, but was "wonderfully sharp to the end".

Bellow's wife and daughter were at his side when he died at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts, Mr Pozen told the Associated Press news agency.

'Working stiffs'

He was born Solomon Bellows near Montreal in 1915, the son of Russian immigrants, who moved to Chicago when he was nine.

He learned Hebrew at an early age, and his mother wanted him to be a Talmudic scholar, but he was always attracted to writing.

He grew up in the Depression of the 1930s, but said that he found something energising in the determination shown by people around him.

"There were people going to libraries and reading books," he said in a 1997 AP interview.

"They were going to libraries because they were trying to keep warm; they had no heat in their houses.

"There was a great deal of mental energy in those days, of very appealing sorts. Working stiffs were having ideas."


His first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944, and dealt with a young man's dilemma about whether to sign up for military service in World War II.

He made his name with The Adventures of Augie March in 1953, followed by Henderson the Rain King and Herzog.

In 1975, Humboldt's Gift won him a Pulitzer prize and paved the way for his Nobel award the following year.

Fellow novelist Philip Roth paid tribute to Bellow, saying he was one of two giants of the modern American fiction.

"The backbone of 20th Century American literature has been provided by two novelists - William Faulkner and Saul Bellow," Mr Roth said.

"Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th Century."

But Bellow himself was more cautious.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Bellow described the modern novel as a "latter-day lean-to, a hovel in which the spirit takes shelter".

He added: "It is the best we can do just now."

Bellow was married five times, and fathered a daughter at the age of 84.

A private funeral is planned, as well as a public memorial.

Send us your tributes to Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/06 02:54:55 GMT



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