The Canonization of Saul Bellow and Further Reading

Saul Bellow, so far as I have found, is widely anthologized in the canon of American  Literature since 1945. Beyond being included in anthologies of Jewish American Literature, he can also be found in the Heath and Norton anthologies, which contain his short story Looking for Mr. Green (1951). The reason for his low canonization within anthologies relative to his massive popularity and importance in American Literature is likely due to both the density and length of his major works. Humboldt’s Gift (1975) or Herzog (1964) simply cannot be accommodated in a comprehensive pedagogical text. Therefore, he becomes an author who must be studied extensively to really be studied at all. In addition to the complexity of his works, it takes reading across a wider spectrum of his works and criticism of his works to understand his true place, if there is one, within the postmodern canon. I, for one, cannot say that I am even close to achieving that knowledge. I’d recommend reading his novella Seize the Day (1956) to get started because of its relatively short length, and if that at all appeals to you, go ahead and pick up Herzog. Past that, although this is more tenuous and developmental territory for myself, it seems that The Adventures of Augie March (1953), Humboldt’s Gift, and The Victim (1947) would be the books to turn to next.

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