Partial Answers - Homepage Journal of Literature and The History of Ideas The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 Volume 16/1 includes forum "Modernity and Mobility: Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum "Bildung and the State"
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Sounding Postmodernity
 Jarmila Mildorf

 Narrativity and Sound in German Radio Play Adaptations of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy
 Till Kinzel

 Non-Sovereign Voices in Friederike Mayröcker’s Aural Texts
 Inge Arteel

 Singing Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
 Anahita Rouyan

 Being Silent, Doing Nothing
 Agatha Frischmuth

 Musical Macrostructures in The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo by Richard Powers; or, Toward a Media-Conscious Audionarratology
 A. Elisabeth Reichel

 New Modes of Listening
 Emily Petermann

 Narrating Sounds
 Jarmila Mildorf and Till Kinzel

Get Adobe Reader

Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 14, issue 1 (January 2016) : 127-140
Saul Bellow on the Soul
Character and the Spirit of Culture in Humboldt’s Gift and Ravelstein
Willis Salomon
Rubric A: Episodes in the History of Ideas
Rubric B: American Novel



Saul Bellow’s fiction is decidedly philosophic, particularly as he celebrates depth of personhood in his characters while denigrating superficiality. The discursive action of this focus on personal depth involves the idea of soul, which, for Bellow, resonates in individual characters in his fiction as well as in the “character” of culture, usually viewed in historical decline, one of his preoccupations. This essay examines this dual understanding of soul — as a function of individual character and as the “character” of culture — in two of Bellow’s novels: Humboldt’s Gift (1975) and Ravelstein (2000). Both are concerned with the tension between the grandeur of art and ideas and the depredations of rising commercial culture in America. In Humboldt’s Gift, Bellow offers an initial view of the messy genius of a great intellectual, while in Ravelstein the persona of a great intellectual is fully developed and even more explicitly presented in terms of the relation between such “greatness of soul” and cultural and intellectual decline in late-capitalism. In both novels, an aesthetic of great personhood works through characterization, with “greatness” revealing itself metonymically as aestheticized relational energy and in the genius for seeing revealed essences. In the characters of Von Humboldt Fleisher and Abe Ravelstein, characters based on two of Saul Bellow’s teachers and intellectual heroes, Delmore Schwartz and Allan Bloom, Bellow explores a type of intellectual heroism, the loss of which, he believes, has severe, even catastrophic, cultural consequences.

 All Rights Reserved to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem- Partial Answers © 2004. Powered By Priza

The Johns Hopkins University Press