Mark Harris James Atlas - Essay

James Atlas

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

From the subtitle on—the reference is to a poem by Robert Frost—["Saul Bellow; Drumlin Woodchuck"] is surely one of the most eccentric biographical works since A.J.A. Symons' "The Quest for Corvo." I call it a biographical work because Mr. Harris has written more a quest for Bellow than a conventional biography. "For specific facts you must go to a certified public accountant," he declares, and his indifference to facts in this research-dominated age is an act of sheer bravado: He "believes" that Bellow is associated with the Committee on Social Thought; introduced to one of Bellow's girlfriends in a restaurant, he fails to catch the name: "Stat or Stats or Stap or Staps." After a decade of purported research, he...

(The entire section is 575 words.)