What are the main influences that affect Saul Bellow's novels?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Saul Bellow was born in Montreal to a poor Russian Jewish family. His family moved to Chicago when he was nine years old. This family background meant that he was multilingual from an early age, and saw American society from the viewpoint of an outsider. This was a period when anti-Semitism was prevalent – many of the Ivy League university had quotas that limited the number of Jewish students they would admit  – and yet also, because so many Jewish intellectuals fleeing Nazism in Europe ended up in the United States, a period of major influence of Jewish intellectuals on many facets of American life. Thus Bellow`s Russian Jewish immigrant heritage is one major influence. Another influence is the psychological theories of Wilhelm Reich, which he studied in university.