Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

Saul Bellow's "To Jerusalem and Back" reveals his ambivalence of the Jewish state. What is the summary?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    Novel Overview

    To Jerusalem and Back (1976) was written during 1975, the year in which Humboldt’s Gift drew such mixed responses, Bellow married mathematician Alexandra Ionescu Tulcea. , and the couple spent three months in Israel while Alexandra lectured in mathematics at Hebrew University. Bellow used the time to research and write his chronological documentary of the trip. He read many articles and books on Israel and interviewed numerous Jewish government and cultural leaders. The book reveals his ambivalence about the Jewish state. The book combines firsthand accounts of many of these interviews, a somewhat journalistic chronology of his stay, fictional stories, reported conversations, travelogue, bits of essays, and pieces of public addresses. It earned for Bellow the label of “neoconservative,” and a number of negative reviews. According to some critics, he did not interview enough people involved in the arts, medicine, science, civic projects, or religious groups. Others complained about his political neutrality, and yet others about his apparent lack of understanding of the history of Zionism, Israel, Islam, and world politics. Generally critics thought the book passionate and cerebral, if lacking a unifying vision and political commitment. Bellow for his part complains in the book about how hard he finds it as a Westerner to come to any clear vision of things—about how his own intermittent moral wakefulness is often followed by loss of focus–the very predicament of most of his heroes. It was in 1976, during this spate of mixed reviews on Humboldt’s Gift and on To Jerusalem and Back, that Bellow went to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, and to receive encomiums that ultimately assured him of an international audience of admirers.

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