A Study of Madness and the Alienation of Intellectuals in Saul Bellow’s World of Fiction

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M.Manivannan, Dr. R.Palanivel


This paper crystallizes how and why Bellow‘s intellectual heroes in his later novels are men of ideas, dissenters and revolutionists of the age, though marginalized, victimized, degraded, disregarded, and forgotten despite their celebrity contributions to American culture. This partly exists in their being idealists, men of imagination and letters and partly because of the spoilt capitalistic American culture. Herzog satirizes the masses' norms, and ironically and sympathetically, is mocked by Bellow himself for his being too romantic. Henderson, Sammler and Humboldt sketch the decline of humanism and the agony of the intellectual. Corde illustrates this humanistic fall through the crisis of the communist system in Romania. Because of this cultural backdrop, American intellectuals are destined to suffer, feel agony and alienation. Here Bellow suggests subversion and deconstruction to the norms of his society. More strikingly, he adopts the strategy of being ‗forever en route,‘ forever re-evaluating one‘s beliefs and ideals. His heroes' madness is only a moment of wisdom and over consciousness about the necessity of replacing the culture of masses and capitalism. Deeply behind this, Bellow maintains that the promises of the Enlightenment morality—freedom, faith, happiness, altruism, reason, wisdom, humanism, self-autonomy and harmony—have surprisingly turned into their opposites and have been supplanted by new terms of utilitarian, nihilist, ‗irrational‘ discipline characterized by amorality, illusion, risk and the crisis of knowledge.

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