What does Saul Bellow mean by saying that the constant linking of these names [Bellow-Malamud-Roth] reminded him of Hart, Schaffner, and Marx?
Hart, Schaffner and Marx was the name of a company that made so-called ready-to-wear--as opposed to custom-made--men's suits and jackets. In Bellow's day the company was by far the best-known manufacturer of these suits and sports coats. They were of good quality and not expensive. Their label inside each of their coats was familiar to all Americans. Bellow was Jewish and probably disliked being linked so often with Malamud and Roth on the flimsy basis that they were all Jewish writers. Bernard Malamud and Philip Roth were entirely different from Saul Bellow. All three men have distinguished reputations and have won numerous awards. Critics often use meaningless phrases such as the one linking Bellow, Malamud and Roth just to fill up space. Such catch-all phrases are a good sign that the critics who use them are not very reliable or knowledgeable. Ross Macdonald, the mystery writer, was ceaselessly linked by critics in phrases such as "In the hard-boiled tradition of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald," as if they were triplets. Any private detective novel writer was likely to be compared by critics with these three well-known authors. What Bellow must have resented most was that he was thoughtlessly linked with the other two authors just because they were Jewish. It was a form of racism. But he was making a joke about it because he had a very good senses of humor and wasn't taking it too seriously.