Seize the Day: Biography: Saul Bellow
One of America's leading twentieth century novelists, Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, Canada, on July 10, 1915, the fourth child of Russian immigrants. As a boy, Bellow was taught four languages, English, French, Hebrew and Yiddish. When he was nine, the family moved to Chicago. Bellow was a studious boy and spent much of his time in libraries. After graduating from high school he entered the University of Chicago in 1933, transferring two years later to Northwestern University. In 1937, he was awarded a Bachelor's degree with honors in sociology and anthropology. Later that year, Bellow attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, but quit several months later when he married Anita Goshkin.
During World War II, Bellow served briefly in the Merchant Marine in 1944. This was also the year his first novel, Dangling Man, was published. After the war he taught English at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. His second novel, The Victim, was published in 1947. In 1948, Bellow was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and other places in Europe. He also began work on a third novel, The Adventures of Augie March (1953), which won the National Book Award for Fiction.
Over the next twenty-five years, Bellow wrote a series of successful, critically acclaimed novels, many of which explored themes of isolation and loneliness, the quest for knowledge and the possibilities of spiritual awakening. These novels include Seize The Day (1956), Henderson The Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), which won the International Literature Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968), Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970) and Humboldt's Gift (1975), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Bellow's first non-fiction work, To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, was published in 1976.
In 1976, Bellow won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Since then he has continued to publish fiction regularly. His works include The Dean's December (1982), Him With His Foot In His Mouth And Other Stories (1984), Modernity And Its Discontents (1987), More Die Of Heartbreak: A Novel (1987), A Theft (1989; novella), The Bellarosa Connection. A Novella (1989), Something To Remember Me By (1992), Three Tales, (1992), All Adds Up (1994; essays), and Ravelstein (2000).
Bellow has received numerous awards. In 1968 the Republic of France awarded him the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction given by France to non-citizens. In the same year he received the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for excellence in Jewish literature, and in 1976 he was awarded the America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. In 1990, Bellow was presented the National Book Award Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American letters.
Bellow has taught at the University of Minnesota, New York University, Princeton University, the University of Chicago and Boston University. As of 2004, he is University Professor and Professor of English at Boston University.