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Download Bellow: A Biography fb2, epub

by James Atlas

Download Bellow: A Biography fb2, epub

ISBN: 0394585011
Author: James Atlas
Language: English
Publisher: Random House; 2002 Modern Library ed edition (October 17, 2000)
Pages: 704
Category: Arts & Literature
Subcategory: Biography
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 371
Size Fb2: 1388 kb
Size ePub: 1588 kb
Size Djvu: 1756 kb
Other formats: lrf azw docx txt

James Robert Atlas (March 22, 1949 – September 4, 2019) was a writer, especially of biographies, as well as a publisher.

James Robert Atlas (March 22, 1949 – September 4, 2019) was a writer, especially of biographies, as well as a publisher. Atlas was born in Evanston, Illinois to Donald and Nora (Glassenberg) Atlas. His father was a physician and his mother was a homemaker. Atlas graduated from in 1967 from high school in Evanston, during the turmoil of the 1960s.

Masterly, original, Bellow: A Biography is an extraordinary achievement, the brilliant and long-awaited biography of the Nobel Prize-winning author of Herzog, The Adventures of Augie March, and other bestsellers.

James Atlas at his home in Manhattan in 2012

James Atlas at his home in Manhattan in 2012. He detailed his obsession with biography, as he put it, in The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale (2017). Michael Nagle for The New York Times. He was 70. His wife, Dr. Anna Fels, said his death, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, was caused by the escalation of a chronic lung condition. Biography was Mr. Atlas’s forte.

James Atlas is a model biographer. He writes with the conversational ease of a born storyteller, giving us both a richly informed history of one of America’s most original and gifted writers and a mythos of the artist’s life in the twentieth century.

Complete Biography of James Atlas affair, height, weight, age, net worth & salary. In 2002, he began Atlas Books, which at onetime released two series together with HarperCollins and . Marital status of James Atlas: partner/spouse; wife/husband;.

Электронная книга "Bellow: A Biography", James Atlas.

Atlas's Bellow: masterpiece or muck-raking? Stephen Moss on James . Adam Mars-Jones, in the Observer, condemned the book as a literary hatchet-job.

In the case of James Atlas's long-awaited biography of Saul Bellow (Faber, £25), that is almost impossible.

James Atlas, whose biographies of writers Delmore Schwartz and Saul Bellow were both acclaimed and attacked and who, as a publishing executive, ushered dozens of other biographies into print, died Sept. 4 at a hospital in New York City. The cause was a chronic lung ailment, said his daughter, Molly Atlas

Masterly, original, Bellow: A Biography is an extraordinary achievement, the brilliant and long-awaited biography of the Nobel Prize-winning author of Herzog, The Adventures of Augie March, and other bestsellers. National Book Award nominee James Atlas here gives the first definitive account of Bellow's turbulent personal and professional life, as it unfolded against the background of twentieth-century events--the Depression, World War II, the upheavals of the sixties--and amid all the complexities of the Jewish-immigrant experience in America, which generated a vibrant new literature.           Saul Bellow's parents fled Russia in 1913 and settled with relatives in Canada, where Saul was born. Bellow's boyhood in Quebec and Chicago, marked by his family's transient existence and struggle for economic survival (his father was a bootlegger for a time), provided inspiration for many of the memorable characters and scenes that animate his fiction. It was in Chicago that Bellow came into his own, discovering his unique voice and encountering many of the women, as well as the writers and intellectuals, who were to populate his novels and his life. Atlas draws upon Bellow's vast correspondence with Ralph Ellison, Delmore Schwartz, John Berryman, Robert Penn Warren, John Cheever, and many other luminaries in this rich and revealing account of one writer's experience of America's twentieth-century intellectual and literary history.           As talented as he is enigmatic, Bellow has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award (three times), and, in 1976, the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his eighties, he published a new novel, Ravelstein, and, with his fifth wife, celebrated the birth of his fourth child.           Detailing Bellow's volatile marriages and numerous tempestuous relationships with women, prominent intellectuals, publishers, and friends, Bellow: A Biography is a magnificent chronicle of the life of one of the premier writers in the English language.


Everyone who loves Bellow will need to read this book. It is breathtaking in its thoroughness. It is a very detailed, masterful description of Bellow's life and work, though perhaps a bit more "life" than "work". There is a question of whether quite as much life, especially love life, is really needed, but then the reader of this biography will get insights not only into Bellow's life but also into the life of our time. Atlas obviously has tremedous admiration for Bellow, and the reader of this biography -- THIS reader did-- will go away with a far greater appreciation of Bellow than he had before. And yet there is a problem in Atlkas's disapproval of aspects of Bellow's life. There are no doubt moments in Bellow's exhuberant public pronouncements where prudence would have required more tact and more taste, but Atlas surely goes too far when he accuses Bellow -- repeatedly ! -- of such non-PC lapses as "racism" and "misogyny". On the evidence, these accusations are unwarranted, in my opinion.
The biography is a marvelous journey. I was first turned on to Bellow when I picked up a paperback copy of Humboldt's gift about 30 years ago. His life was an interesting juxtaposition between living in that most materialistic city, Chicago and living the life of the mind. It doesn't hurt that I have lived in Chicago for the last 23 years and know the city fairly well. His writing shows what amazing things that can be done with the English language.
Wonderful biography - personal and societal history. A page turner and a delight to read.
“If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.” Thus muses the hero of Saul Bellow’s sixth novel in that book’s memorable opening line. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that James Atlas ever wondered if he was out of his mind, and whether that was all right with him, in the years that he labored to produce this splendid biography of arguably the most accomplished and the most acclaimed author in American literary history.

For, as it turns out, Bellow, a three-time National Book Award recipient, Pulitzer prize winner, and Nobel laureate – when he was not practicing his self-imposed discipline of writing for several hours nearly every morning of his long life – was spending an inordinate amount of the rest of his time embroiled in a seemingly endless stream of bruising conflicts with friends, lovers, ex-wives, lawyers, critics, colleagues, agents, publishers, reviewers, grant committees, and university administrators. The unenviable task of reading through the voluminous trove of contentious correspondence left in the wake of all these disputes could easily have had the biographer questioning, Herzog-like, the condition of his own mind.

Fortunately for us, Atlas not only stayed in complete control of his mental faculties, but he has also stayed completely in control of his narrative from beginning to end of this nearly 600-page opus. While his duties as biographer require him to report honestly on the unending parade of emotional tumult that featured in his subject’s life (most of which Bellow himself incorporated into whatever novel or story he was working on at the time), Atlas expertly walks the fine line of neither condoning nor condemning Bellow’s often questionable behavior.

Time and again, with each new rupture occurring in one or another of Bellow’s various personal or professional relationships, Atlas simultaneously both takes Bellow to task for his role in the incident and offers a sympathetic interpretation of his actions, more often than not attributing them to the insatiable need for approval that his father’s neglect and his two older brothers’ disdain had bred in Bellow as a child.

In keeping with this balanced approach, Atlas misses no opportunity to praise Bellow for his many admirable traits – his deep affection for his sons, his diligent work habits, his unstinting generosity in giving support and direction to aspiring young writers, his lifelong devotion to his childhood friends, his frequent brilliance as a college lecturer, and his constant love for the father and brothers who had so often and so hurtfully disparaged his choice of career (until late in life, when the awards and the cash finally started flowing in).

The portrait Atlas paints of Bellow strikes me as faithful to the facts and fair to the man.

Nevertheless, Atlas has been harshly judged by some reviewers as having been overly harsh to his subject. In the most cited case I’m aware of, the noted critic James Wood implied that Atlas – and the rest of us – ought to treat Bellow’s supposed failings in life as a sort of artistic license, making a “greater-good” argument that the relatively small handful of individuals who suffered some real-life grievance at Bellow’s hands are so few in comparison to the far larger number of individuals who have gained so much pleasure from reading the inspired books that flowed from those very same hands.

Perhaps we ought to. But I’m much more inclined to think that we ought to ask that handful of sufferers being so airily dismissed what they think we ought to do. And I’m absolutely inclined to view all these aspersions that have been cast upon Atlas as a particularly unwarranted case of the messenger being attacked for the message he brings.

For myself, I applaud the messenger. Atlas’ insightful look into Bellow’s life has made me ask myself anew the essential question that I believe Bellow was asking in each of his books, from the incomparable early masterpieces to the less stellar later ones that followed – namely, what does it mean to be alive as a human being in this inexplicable world of ours? Could any reader want more from a biography? And could Bellow (who was still alive when this book was published) have wanted any more from a biographer?

As I began reading Atlas’ book, I wondered if, at its conclusion, he would venture to offer his own answer to Bellow’s question. Who better to attempt this, I thought, than one who had immersed himself so thoroughly in the Bellovian life, lore, and literary output?

It turns out that Atlas knew who better.

In his deeply touching closing paragraph, he recounts a scene from a 1997 BBC television program, in which Bellow, at age 82, is being interviewed by the novelist Martin Amis in a Boston coffee shop. Their conversation turns to Bellow’s thoughts on death, and on the possibility that there might be an afterlife. In reply, Bellow suggests that if we “think of eternity as a conscious soul”, then perhaps in the eternity of death “we might become God’s apprentices and have the real secrets of the universe revealed to us.”

Something to keep in mind the next time I afford myself the pleasure of reading one of Bellow’s books. Which, thanks in no small way to Atlas, will probably be sooner rather than later.
This is one biography that was really worth the wait. One almost had the impression over the last ten years that, like Truman Capote with In Cold Blood, Atlas was waiting for his character to die so he could be sure of how the story ended. Fortunately, Atlas did not wait and we still have Bellow and this book!
There have been comparisons already to Richard Ellman's work on James Joyce. Of course, Ellman's Joyce bio is a towering monument of scholarship and perhaps a harder book to write, but that is also a harder book to READ and not nearly as much fun as this one. I would compare Atlas's Bellow to Quentin Bell's Virginia Woolf, also a very fun book and a book that is both a passionate defense and an exasperated apology for its subject.
Now, I am not necessarily comparing Bellow and Woolf except to say they are both prickly and deep. Like Bell, Atlas has the advantage of knowing his subject personally and like Bell, is not above occasionally letting his frustration show. Bellow is not an easy man to like, or even tolerate, but his gifts are prodigious and Atlas never resorts to bitter stereotypes.
This is a book written with a deep sense of the American vernacular. There are currents of Chicago-ese, Canadian, and Yiddish running through it in a delightful mix. Atlas writes a very clear, lucid style and quotes from Bellow's letters and unpublished manuscripts freely.
It is hard to imagine a Stanely Elkin or a Philip Roth without first a Saul Bellow. This book is a great introduction to the Nobel laureate's work.

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