Writing Techniques in Humboldt's Gift

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Bellow said that he put the best of himself into Humboldt's Gift. It does seem to combine the best features of his earlier fictions. It has the long, episodic plot, the huge cast of characters, and the humor of The Adventures of Augie March (1953). It also features the intellectual protagonist, the subjectivity, and the philosophical seriousness of Herzog (1964). The outer and inner worlds of Bellow are joined in a seamless whole.

Humboldt's Gift is also a roman a clef (a story based on real-life people and events). Various characters in the novel suggest actual people. Most important, Von Humboldt Fleisher seems to be based on Bellow's friend, the poet Delmore Schwartz who died in 1966.

But as Bellow himself has suggested, the creative imagination does not work in terms of a one-to-one correspondence. His characters are more likely to be based on composites that his imagination further refines and synthesizes...

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This section contains 185 words
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Buy the Humboldt's Gift Study Guide
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