Edward Mendelson is the author of Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers.
From his Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write of the authors that “all were troubled by the discordance between a mask and a face.” How did they reconcile their public and private lives?--Marshal Zeringue
A: The happiest and most artistically successful reconciled their private and public lives by withdrawing or refusing fame and honors. The unhappiest (Lionel Trilling, Saul Bellow) thrust their private selves into a kind of prison and tried to live up to their heroic public images. They got lots of admirers, but they tended to despise them.
Q: Saul Bellow, you write, “was driven throughout his life by his search for some ultimate and invisible spiritual reality.” How did that search affect him, and did he ultimately find what he was searching for?
A: Bellow was always looking for someone to guide him toward spiritual meanings, and he always admired Rudolf Steiner and Steiner’s German-Romantic mystical ideas. At one point, Bellow flew to England in the hope of making himself a disciple of ...[read on]