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 https://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). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0982677839