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Saul Bellow – A Useless Old Gentleman

Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow – A “Useless Old Gentleman,” according to The NY Times Book Review, SAM TANENHAUS, APRIL 27, 2015, reviewing: ‘The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964,’ by Zachary Leader  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/03/books/review/the-life-of-saul-bellow-to-fame-and-fortune-1915-1964-by-zachary-leader.html

 

It appears that The NY Times Book Review is shamelessly dumbing down for shallow readers in their “20s and 30s,” who are in fact at times symptoms of the modern malaise, not trendsetters who ought to be encouraged. Instead of accommodating PC drivel, The NY Times should be advising and encouraging them to strive to read and understand Saul Bellow.

Lowering literary standards further, though, ought to help corrupt corporate publishers, who have no standards but the bottom-line, using their ill-begotten wealth to pay for the exorbitant cost of advertising in The NY Times Book Review, and should make the plutocrats of Wall Street happy. Nothing like a dumb population to render them easy to control and rob… Bellow was a searing critic of media hacks throughout his novels and short stories. Perhaps that explains the betrayal.
Saul Bellow’s material isn’t a matter of fashion; it’s much of the foundation of anything worth calling civilization, despite the lack of defense, if not dismissal, by Sam Tanenhaus:

“For many he now belongs among the useless old gentlemen. Bellow admirers in their 20s and 30s are increasingly harder to find. “Humboldt wanted to drape the world in radiance, but he didn’t have enough material,” he wrote of one of his battered characters. Bellow had the material, in abundance, but it’s gone out of fashion. The great midcentury emancipator is now in danger of slipping into a forgotten past.”

Tanenhaus’ review makes clear he and The NY Times Book Review aren’t fit to touch Saul Bellow’s shoelace, let alone untie it.

See my essay “Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein–The Closing of the American Soul” in my book The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays (2014) for a deeper reading of the importance of Bellow and my further comments about Bellow castigating the corrupt media. “Saul Bellow’s Soul” is in my book The Grove of the Eumenides (2007) and in Saul Bellow and the Struggle at the Center (AMS Press, 1996). http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0982677839

Frederick Glaysher

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Reviews in Brief to February 5, 2015

Selected Reviews of The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem in Brief to February 5, 2015

“Beautiful poem…an excellent piece of poetry.” —Nana Fredua-Agyeman, Ghana, Africa

“A great epic poem…” —Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht, Carleton University, Canada

“Bravo to the Poet for this toilsome but brilliant endeavour.”
Umme Salma, International Islamic University, Bangladesh, in Transnational Literature, Australia

“A uniquely powerful work….” —Spirituality Today, UK

“…maybe it is poets and philosophers, rather than activists and politicians, who can ultimately help transform this world into something better.” —Mr. P. J. Morris, Amazon UK

“A masterpiece that will stand the test of time.” —Poetry Cornwall

The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem
The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem

“Don’t be intimidated by an epic poem. …in the most beautiful, mellifluous language.” —Miriam Knight, New Consciousness Review radio, Portland, Oregon

“Like being enfolded into a glorious, celestial, orchestral song… A worthy literary masterpiece… Amazing, wonderful book.” Julie Clayton, New Consciousness Review

“Beautiful book.” —Dr. Catherine Al-Meten, The Examiner, Portland, Oregon

“…the poetry and language is rather beautiful. …it’s really very readable.” —Chris Hislop, Savage, London

“…a very important book for our time.” —Tina Benson, Amazon Review, California

“A contemporary classic! Highly recommended for reading.” —Nishat Haider, Lucknow University, India

“…fascinating juxtapositionings, and unique symbolism for our time.” —Dave Gordon, The Jewish Post and News of Winnipeg, Canada

“I found this book to be up to the standards set by Homer.” —LibraryThing

Longer excerpts with links on my homepage.

Frederick Glaysher

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Leo Tolstoy. Hadji Murad.

Leo Tolstoy. Hadji Murad. 1911.

September 30, 2009

Lev Tolstoy's Favorite Bench
Lev Tolstoy’s Favorite Bench

I recently downloaded and read from Google Books Tolstoy’s novella Hadji Murad. It’s one of the very last pieces of fiction he wrote, finishing it in 1904, published in 1911, the year of his death. The short novel, about 200 pages on an ereader, has always been praised as an exquisitely crafted work of art. Tolstoy allows the structure and interplay of events to speak for themselves, eschewing nearly all temptation to explain to the reader his intentions and meaning. For precisely this reason, the book may be an especially challenging one. Before stating what I think of Hadji Murad, I must touch on my very long relationship with Tolstoy….

Now available in

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.

http://www.earthrisepress.net/myth_of_the_enlightenment.html

Frederick Glaysher

 

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Of True Religion. John Milton.

Of True Religion and John Milton.

February 7, 2010

Milton’s Cottage
John Milton’s Cottage, Chalfont St Giles

In 1673, a year before his death, John Milton published a pamphlet entitled “Of True Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and what the best means may be used against the Growth of Popery.” His great poems were all behind him, death before him. Oddly, this pamphlet is little known to the general reader of Milton. After looking through a number of textbook collections of Milton for university courses, published during the last several decades, I was surprised to discover none of them contained “Of True Religion,” yet it was the last piece the man ever wrote. All the more startling is that “Of True Religion” presents a portrait of John Milton significantly at variance with the Puritan caricature of him that is often promoted by scholars in the university. All too often Milton is torn out of his historical time and not seen to be in fact the liberal that he was, clearly headed toward the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which further limited the monarchy and prepared the way for the modern efflorescence of individual liberty and freedom. To distort Milton into a one-dimensional Puritan suppresses the complexity of his actual thinking and life….

Now available in

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.

http://www.earthrisepress.net/myth_of_the_enlightenment.html

Frederick Glaysher