vidual texts and suggests an open-endedrnand unconnected “list.” Such quibblingrnis immaterial, however, in light of thernservice this book provides, the truth it establishes.rnFor in charting the disintegrationrnof intellectual discussion of severalrnof the nation’s (and the vvodd’s) greatrnbooks. Recovering American Literaturernproves that when criticism ceases to bernan open forum of ideas centered on arntext and emanating from that text’s richrnstore of ambiguity and ambivalence, itrndocs indeed become vulgar. Shaw exposesrnthe sinister nature of the lies andrnabsurdities that can pass as knowledgernand understanding in the classroom, andrnmakes it clear that when the ends justifyrnthe means in academia, books becomernsermons at best, at worst tools of propagandarnwherein distortions, omissions,rnand outright falsehoods prevail.rnLoxley F. Nichols teaches Englishrnliterature and composition at LoyolarnCollege in Baltimore.rnAugie Old:rnThe Last Manrnby Peter LauriernIt All Adds Up: From the DimrnPast to the Uncertain Futurernby Saul BellowrnNew York: Viking;rn327 pp., $23.95rnSaul Bellow’s It All Adds Up is his firstrn(and given his age probably his last)rncollection of nonfiction. Mr. Bellow isrnclose to 80. His introduction suggests arnmood of self-reformation, not solemnrnbut tending toward testament. He isrnsaid to be at work on a novel. He hasrnoutlived most of his generation, still cutsrnan agreeable and admirable figurernamong those pretending to literary accomplishment,rnand orre wants to wishrnhim well. He is now older than thernGood Grey Poet and still hard at work.rnThe book consists of a redeploymentrnof elegantly wrought magazine pieces,rnseveral self-ruminations called interviews,rnand shorter and longer memoirs,rnessays, and public lectures, arranged andrncropped for maximum impact and concisionrnthough still long for my taste, takingrnin a considerable span of tumultuousrnlife and literary history. If the life appearsrnto me an exceptionally lucky one (andrnone gets the impression that Bellow mayrnnot appreciate just how lucky), then thernhistory strikes me as ugly. Literature hasrnbeen swallowed by “political statement,”rnethnomama applauded into a ubiquitousrnvice, general culture (which in anyrncase hardly exists) pumped up into thernwhite elephant one got stuck with at thernrummage sale of a nasty past; while anyrnpretense to a settled outlook, a sense ofrnmoral splendor, or even mere talent isrnnowadays subjected to derision.rnBellow speaks with authority, havingrnsurvived best-sellerdom, big money, numerousrnmarriages and divorces, virtuallyrnall known literary prizes, celebrity status,rnthe deaths of beloved fellow writers,rnand careful critical attention in the midstrnof the general collapse of serious literaryrnpublishing. Covering decades in dozensrnof pages, he commands fistsful of culturalrnhistories and is unafraid to speakrnout, change his mind, and loathe hisrnworld.rnNow perhaps it is time to say I neverrnmuch cared for him. “Mr, Saul Bellow.”rnI can still hear the ring of that name inrnJohn Berryman’s voice. The poet andrnman of letters who had more influencernon mv young writer’s life than any otherrnliving human being was in the habit ofrnhitting his audiences over the head withrnhis opinions like Odysseus clanging thernflat of his axhead on a wooden dowelrnthat would hold his raft together to justrnwithin sight of the isle of the Phaeacians.rnNobody who came into contact withrnJohn Berryman’s view of literature couldrnafford to ignore his high regard for thernnovelist Saul Bellow: “Mr. Saul Bellow .rn. . who writes . . . just a little . . . bit . . .rnbetter” (at this point an authoritativernpinky would punctuate the air) “thanrnanybody else!” But I wasn’t buying.rnA modest mountain of novels offers arnmegalomaniac vision of the Jewish Alps.rnWarmly human it is; Tolstoy it is not. Allrnthe flaws of the Russian novel—a sort ofrndiscursive elephantiasis, the prose’s voicernthat of some epic fidgit drumming onrnthe coffee tabic, improv, patter, one-liners,rnGeorge Jesscl mimicking Gervantes,rnFielding, Twain, a little Plutarch, a coffeernklatch intelligentsia blab—are reproducedrnin Bellow’s work.rnWell. This would hardly seem thernplace to begin to explain all this,rngood reader—but. Deep in thernworks of Ortega y Gasset, he musesrnseriously on what he imaginesrnPericles would have said to myrndear friend Hannah Arendt, hadrneither of them been in a positionrnto have experienced the existentialrnanguish of Charles Chaplin in,rnwas it. Hard Times . . .rnI have to admit I made this up. Butrnreal passages from the published books,rnAugie March and Llerzog, multitudes ofrnthem in almost any chapter, are in fact asrncompulsive as this: self-aggrandizing,rnflip, fundamentally noninterpretivernwastes of print between “episodes.”rnEventually, in spite of my reverence forrnBerryman, I concluded that Bellow didrnwrite only “just a little bit” better than,rnsay, John Updike.rnThe creator of Augie old is, it seems tornme, very much the consequence of therncreator of Augie young. In the course ofrnIt All Adds Up, in his best interviewese,rnMr. Bellow avers, “Well, what you callrnoptimism may be nothing more than arnmismanaged, misunderstood vitality . . .rnreckless spontaneity. . . I had found—orrnbelieved I had found—a new way tornflow.” Though he calls himself “the catrnthat walked by himself,” Bellow walked,rnit seems to me, the corridors of the idiotrnoptimism of the Jewish Marxist’s secularrnmaterialism, from the offices of the BartisanrnReview across the terrazzo of thernGuggenheim Foundation, Bard Campus,rnThe Village, into the offices of Commentaryrnand the pages of the New Yorkrn’Times, biting a hand that always fed himrnrather well. Sounds suspiciously likernlemming syndrome, if you ask me. Thisrnhas been absolutely everybody’s broadrnhighway, and it is taking every one of usrnwith it over the abyss. Bellow himself, inrnone of the more daring public addressesrnof our whole pusillanimous period, put itrnthis way:rnI really don’t care to think aboutrnthe inevitable succession of modernismrnbv after- and post-modernism,rnI will grant you the “nightrnof the world” and accept thernfullest listing of the charges:rnemptiness of life, the unity ofrnmankind on the lowest level, thernincreasing vacuity of personal existence,rnthe victory of urbanizationrnand technology—in short, thernprevalence of nihilism, the ab-rn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn