21. Small Planets: The Short Fiction of Saul Bellow

  1. Alfred Bendixen Professor founder Executive Director2 and
  2. James Nagel Professor Rockefeller Fellow3
  1. Gloria L. Cronin Professor director

Published Online: 16 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444319910.ch21

A Companion to the American Short Story

A Companion to the American Short Story

How to Cite

Cronin, G. L. (2010) Small Planets: The Short Fiction of Saul Bellow, in A Companion to the American Short Story (eds A. Bendixen and J. Nagel), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444319910.ch21

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Texas A&M University, USA

  2. 3

    University of Georgia, USA

Author Information

  1. Brigham Young University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 MAR 2010
  2. Published Print: 19 FEB 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405115438

Online ISBN: 9781444319910



  • small planets - the short fiction of Saul Bellow;
  • Bellow, self-made, emerging out of the same folkloric standards as William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis;
  • Charlie Citrine of Humboldt's Gift (1975) - you could truly “examine the human spirit under industrialism”;
  • Saul Bellow emerging from a Jewish Russian immigrant community - his bookishness encouraged by his doting mother Lescha (Lisa);
  • early years of Bellow, 1933–1958 - life as a writer beginning and ending with short fiction;
  • “The Mexican General” (1942), publishing in Partisan Review, story of Trotsky's assassination in Mexico;
  • Bellow's apprenticeship in short fiction - culminating during early years, with three novellas, Dangling Man (1944), The Victim (1947), and Seize the Day (1956);
  • Bellow relentlessly exploring spiritual importance of human social contract - and biblical injunction to be our brothers' keepers


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Early Years: 1933–1958

  • The Middle Years: 1963–1988

  • The Late Years: 1989–2005

  • Conclusion

  • References and Further Reading