April 14, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 13

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    Nobel laureate, 30-year faculty member Bellow dies at 89

    Saul Bellow, Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought, a Nobel laureate in literature and a member of the Chicago faculty for more than 30 years, died Tuesday, April 5, at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.

    One of the most influential American novelists of the 20th century, Bellow centered his fictional universe in Chicago, his hometown. Bellow, the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and English Language & Literature, authored more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and works of nonfiction, including Herzog, Humboldt’s Gift, Mr. Sammler’s Planet and The Adventures of Augie March. One of the most honored American writers of his era, Bellow won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, a Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards and a Presidential medal.

    Richard Stern, the Helen A. Regenstein Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature and a longtime friend and colleague of Bellow’s, wrote in a special essay published Friday, April 8, in the Chicago Tribune that his friend had “special gifts.”

    “His mind from the get-go was larger than our minds; his energy and courage and sensitivity were larger. He could be tenderer, he could be tougher than you or I. He was not there to report the world but to put into words the world his special gifts allowed him to see, hear, taste and smell more acutely than the rest of us,” wrote Stern. “The great thing is that after he performed this assignment, that world became ours as well. Bellow made us livelier, smarter, deeper, more acute, more life-loving.”

    Wayne Booth, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature, also a longtime colleague of Bellow’s, said, “In my view, Saul Bellow was one of the greatest of the great writers. His works moved me extremely, especially Mr. Sammler’s Planet. I can remember feeling that this work really reminded me of what powers fiction can have.”

    Bellow taught at Chicago from 1962 to 1993 in the Committee on Social Thought, and attended the College in the 1930s.

    To view published obituaries of Bellow, visit the University News Office Web site at http://www-news.uchicago.edu.