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It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Paperback – June 1, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Nobel Prize-winning author Bellow should enjoy this wide-ranging selection of more than 30 nonfiction pieces--lectures and articles reprinted from Esquire , the New Republic , the New York Times , etc. Bellow's roving and astute eye produces memorable reportage, such as a portrait of a retired Chicago con man and other Windy City scenes, and his view of the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. He also offers neat sketches of colleagues like Allan Bloom, John Berryman and John Cheever. But the meat of the book is Bellow's tart, sometimes dyspeptic cultural commentary, exemplified by his Nobel Lecture criticizing writers for failing to challenge orthodoxies, and his laments at the useless distractions of the Information Revolution and the intellectual frivolities of bohemian New York City. Invoking Tolstoy, Nabokov and Flaubert, among others, Bellow muses on the novelist's responsibilities and, in three lively interviews, offers illuminating autobiographical reflections on reading, writing, teaching and life ("I've had more metamorphoses than I can count"). 50,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Bellow is America's writer, and in this superb collection of nonfiction essays he demonstates his vigilance of and loyalty to his country over a span of 45 years. From his earliest piece, a war report from Spain written for the Partisan Review (1948), to his Novel Prize lecture (1976), to a recent Forbes article entitled "There Is Simply Too Much To Think About," Bellow is consumed by the idea of America--so great, so accomplished, so magical--destroying its soul. "The cost of all the great successes," he writes in "The Jefferson Lectures" (1977), "may be the abasement of man." The Chicago native is the conscience of his city, and Washington, and New York . He reports from the Sinai during the Six Day War and mingles at White House dinners; his trenchant observations rip through the standard rigmarole. The years have sharpened his craft, and his memory. An essential purchase, this just might kindle interest in Bellow's oeuvre ( More Die of Heartbreak ; Humboldt's Gift ) among a younger generation.
- Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140233652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140233650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It All Adds Up, a collection of essays, written with Saul Bellow's great human insight, literary qualities and dry wit. Of course for everybody whom have read Herzog, Humboldt's Gift, The Adventures of Augie March and Henderson the Rain King should just run and get hold of a copy of this book, but honestly: anyone enjoying quality literature and are curious on life, art, politics and about how one of America's greatest authors share of his reflections and anecdotes, will probably enjoy this book. The only collection of essays I can think of, that come near this, is Hermann Hesse's My Belief. It is just such a pleasure to know, that in addition to Bellow's novels, there exist a book like It All Adds Up.
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Format: Paperback
Everything that Bellow writes has vitality. His fictional works are energized by ideas. His faith in literature and his devotion to his craft are unquestioning and are much evidenced in these essays. So are his great learning and committment to the world and life of the mind. I have always had trouble however understanding where Bellow 's overall view of the world really centers. My guess it is in the devotion to the writing life and not in any formal system of philosophical or religious thought, though I know he has been in some way connected with Rudolf Steiner's thought. In any case there is a richness of mind at work much insight in this work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Saul Bellow has limitless intellect,although he would deny he is an intellectual. To him,intellectuals get bogged down in the cul de sac of ideologies;attempting to sort out societies problems and the meaning of life via philosophies infected by the mood of the times;philosohies that ignore mans endless desires of individualism,curiosity and the need to be free.Ideologies that just add further to the mess. Bellow looks for what is human through art and literature,which is a refuge for our soul. All of this beams through Bellows essays.He transcends mere intellectualism and operates on a higher plain.He has no desire to 'do the good thing' or appear 'liberal' if it means having to lie to achieve it.His clash with Gunter Grass-who unbeknown to Bellow and the World at the time had a rather nasty skeleton in his closet-comes to mind. Grass in his politics and self righteous ranting is given the moral high ground by using deception-by doing the right thing;appearing liberal.But as people like Richard Wright found of the 'liberal' North,the attitude was all hot air.The blacks were no more accepted there than the South.They were 'accepted' as long as they stuck to the black belt areas.That truth would have destroyed many a liberal;many a do gooder,as it was a reality they knew of but hid from view.Bellow lives in this area of revelation.

His recollections of Roosevelt,the war,Yom Kippur,Paris....all wonderful. This is a wonderful insight into the greatest mind of the 20th century.
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By HH on July 7, 2016
Format: Paperback
Of the 31 essays gathered together in "It All Adds Up" -- Bellow himself made the selection -- only a few deal directly with fiction (indispensable here are the Nobel speech and the two Jefferson lectures). There are travel pieces, political observations, more about Bellow's unending love-hate relationship with Chicago, and moving "farewells" to Isaac Rosenfeld, John Berryman, John Cheever, Allan Bloom, and William Arrowsmith. Fabulous nonfiction!
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True observations from the one of the greatest visionaries of our time. He sees what is there and even writes it better than you can see it. It is a must read for any thinking individual. I have read this over and over , about every three years. It is all highlighted and worn out. Fantastic accurate points on the many limitations we all endure
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