Novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1975. The novel, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976, is a self-described "comic book about death," whose title character is modeled on the self-destructive lyric poet Delmore Schwartz. Charlie Citrine, an intellectual, middle-aged author of award-winning biographies and plays, contemplates two significant figures and philosophies in his life: Von Humboldt Fleisher, a dead poet who had been his mentor, and Rinaldo Cantabile, a very-much-alive minor mafioso who has been the bane of Humboldt's existence. Humboldt had taught Charlie that art is powerful and that one should be true to one's creative spirit. Rinaldo, Charlie's self-appointed financial adviser, has always urged Charlie to use his art to turn a profit. At the novel's end, Charlie has managed to set his own course. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
was praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose. Born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, he was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines.
His first two novels, Dangling Man
(1944) and The Victim
(1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March
, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day
(1956); Henderson the Rain King
(1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories
(1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet
(1970); Humboldt's Gift
(1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December
(1982); More Die of Heartbreak
(1988); The Bellarosa Connection
(2000); and, most recently, Collected Stories
(2001). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back
, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up
, a collection of memoirs and essays.
Bellow's many awards include the International Literary Prize for Herzog
, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."