Bellow’s personal papers find a home in University libraryBy William Harms
The University has acquired the remaining professional papers from the estate of one of the most celebrated modern novelists, the late Saul Bellow, who also was a University faculty member.
The acquisition, which will be combined with the University’s existing Bellow archive, is in accordance with Bellow’s own wishes and brings his professional papers to one location.
“Saul Bellow’s writings and teaching influenced and benefited generations of students here, and they had the same effect on sophisticated readers around the world. It is both an honor and most fitting that his papers have found their final home in our library archives,” said Provost Richard Saller.
“We are thrilled that the University has acquired the additional Saul Bellow papers,” said Judith Nadler, Director of the University Library. “The papers will be a significant resource for scholars and a source of civic and institutional pride.”
Walter Pozen, Executor of the Bellow estate, said, “There is a wonderful symmetry to having all the Bellow papers housed at Chicago; an idea which I am sure would give Saul great pleasure.”
Bellow, a faculty member at the University for more than 30 years, was one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. He centered his fictional universe in Chicago and 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.
He also was one of the most honored writers of his era; Bellow won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, a Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards and a Presidential medal.
The collection of Bellow’s papers includes previously held manuscripts of published works that will be immediately available to scholars, as well as notes, letters and other items that will become available in later years, pursuant to the agreement between the University and the Estate of Saul Bellow.
“Preserving Saul Bellow’s papers in one location is a tremendous gain for scholarship,” said Alice Schreyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center. “Researchers will be able to study Bellow’s development over the entire course of his literary career. Especially because he recorded early ideas and drafts in spiral-bound notebooks, the archive affords an extraordinary window into Bellow’s genius for language, storytelling and insight into human nature.”
Bellow, who died April 5, 2005, was the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in Social Thought and English Language & Literature at the University.
He taught at the University from 1962 to 1993 and served as Chairman of Social Thought from 1970 to 1976. He also attended the University as an undergraduate in the 1930s.