saul bellow Quotes

People don't realize how much they are in the grip of ideas. We live among ideas much more than we live in nature.

- Saul Bellow, Conversations with Saul Bellow

What is art but a way of seeing?

- Saul Bellow

Wie Gott in Frankreich'' was the expression used by the Jews of Eastern Europe to describe perfect happiness. I puzzled over this simile for many years, and I think I can interpret it now. God would be perfectly happy in France because he would not be troubled by prayers, observances, blessings and demands for the interpretation of difficult dietary questions. Surrounded by unbelievers He too could relax toward evening, just as thousands of Parisians do at their favorite cafes. There are few things more pleasant, more civilized than a tranquil terrasse at dusk.

- Saul Bellow

The truth is we've not really developed a fiction that can accommodate the full tumult the zaniness and crazed quality of modern experience.

- Saul Bellow

Everybody wants to have intimate conversations, but the smart fellows don't give out, only the fools. The smart fellows talk intimately about the fools, and examine them all over and give them advice.

- Saul Bellow, Seize the Day

When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.

- Saul Bellow

Our society like decadent Rome has turned into an amusement society with writers chief among the court jesters - not so much above the clatter as part of it.

- Saul Bellow

Through The Mecca I saw that we were, in our own segregated body politic, cosmopolitans. The black diaspora was not just our own world but, in so many ways, the Western world itself. Now, the heirs of those Virginia planters could never directly acknowledge this legacy or reckon with its power. And so that beauty that Malcolm pledged us to protect, black beauty, was never celebrated in movies, in television, or in the textbooks I’d seen as a child. Everyone of any import, from Jesus to George Washington, was white. This was why your grandparents banned Tarzan and the Lone Ranger and toys with white faces from the house. They were rebelling against the history books that spoke of black people only as sentimental “firsts”—first black five-star general, first black congressman, first black mayor—always presented in the bemused manner of a category of Trivial Pursuit. Serious history was the West, and the West was white. This was all distilled for me in a quote I once read from the novelist Saul Bellow. I can’t remember where I read it, or when—only that I was already at Howard. “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?” Bellow quipped. Tolstoy was “white,” and so Tolstoy “mattered,” like everything else that was white “mattered.” And this view of things was connected to the fear that passed through the generations, to the sense of dispossession. We were black, beyond the visible spectrum, beyond civilization. Our history was inferior because we were inferior, which is to say our bodies were inferior. And our inferior bodies could not possibly be accorded the same respect as those that built the West. Would it not be better, then, if our bodies were civilized, improved, and put to some legitimate Christian use?

- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.

- Saul Bellow

There is today an extraordinary interest with the data of modern experience per se. Our absorption in our contemporary historical state is very high right now. It's not altogether unlike a similar situation in seventeenth century Holland where wealthy merchants wanted their portraits done with all their blemishes included. It is the height of egotism in a sense to think even one's blemishes are of significance. So today Americans seem to want their writers to reveal all their weaknesses their meannesses to celebrate their very confusions. And they want it in the most direct possible way - they want it served up neat as it were without the filtering and generalizing power of fiction.

- Saul Bellow

You focus on telling stories,
we do everything else.