The defense of the human being’s individuality is a major issue that Saul Bellow (1915-2005) addresses throughout his literary career. Worried by the pernicious effects that modern civilization exerts over the individual’s inner self, in Humboldt’s Gift (1975) and in The Dean’s December (1982) Bellow shows that the reconstruction of the inner self can only be accomplished through the imaginative mind or, in a romantic phrase, through the human being’s poetic genius.”

This essay explorea the significance of this issue in The Dean’s December in light of William Blake’s “Then She Bore Pale Desire,” “London,” and “The Chimney Sweeper”; W. B. Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium” and “Long-Legged Fly”; and P. B. Shelley’s “Mont Blanc” and “England in 1819.” In a romantic manner, Bellow’s Albert Corde escapes from the city — a symbol of Blake’s “fallen world,” Yeats’s “dying generations” and “underclass,” and tyranny as expressed in Shelley’s sonnet — and, much like Bellow’s Augie March, Eugene Henderson, and Moses Herzog, ends up going to nature, epitomized by the Mt. Palomar observatory, in order to find his long-awaited peace of mind.


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pp. 141-158
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