We can’t say he didn’t warn us. On the very first page of his first novel, Dangling Man, Saul Bellow’s narrator-protagonist complains that in present-day America

the code of the athlete, of the tough boy... is stronger than ever. Do you have feelings? There are correct and incorrect ways of indicating them. Do you have an inner life? It is nobody’s business but your own. Do you have emotions? Strangle them .... If you have difficulties, grapple with them silently, goes one of their commandments. To hell with that! I intend to talk about mine, and if I had as many mouths as Siva has arms and kept them going all the time, I still could not do myself justice.

Bellow has been talking ever since. In the past forty-three years he has published ten novels, and whatever else one might find to say about them, they have (with only a single exception) been remarkably talky. And the savvy reader...


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