Saul Bellow. Ravelstein. Allan Bloom.
The Closing of the American Soul.
November 23, 2009.
When Saul Bellow’s novel Ravelstein was published in 2000, I did not rush out and buy a copy but closely followed the many reviews that began to appear. I had read almost all of Bellow’s work up to his last novel but felt for some reason that the time was not right to readRavelstein, despite my having ravenously devoured Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind when it had been published in 1987, and anything related to it. I trusted my intuition and attended to other interests, while more reviews continued to come out. Occasionally, I would stumble on one and read it, thinking Ravelstein was a book that I’d have to read someday. Then in 2005 I bought a copy when I happened upon it in a bookstore, but I didn’t read it. I put it on a shelf, waiting for the right moment. This fall, a year and a half into working on writing an epic poem, I realized I needed Saul Bellow’s help. I needed to know how things really stood with the Jews. Even more thanCommentary Magazine, I knew I could count on Saul Bellow to tell me the truth. He never lied to me in the past. I remembered Ravelstein and retrieved it. The right moment in the life of my soul had come….
Now available in
The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.
See my review of Bellow’s Him With His Foot In His Mouth and Other Stories (1984), in the Saul Bellow Journal (summer 1985) and my essay “Saul Bellow’s Soul” in The Grove of the Eumenides: Essays on Literature, Criticism, and Culture.