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Figures of Madness in Saul Bellow's Longer Fiction

Walter Bigler

Saul Bellow's longer fiction abounds with mad, crazy, lunatic figures. In times of rapidly changing values and uncertain relationships, most protagonists face personal crises and even episodes of madness or lunacy. Such heroes as Eugene Henderson, Moses E. Herzog and later protagonists find themselves in a state of ontological instability, which leads them to embark on quests to reestablish their inner equilibrium and redefine their Weltanschauung. Engaging in extensive explorations of the mind, many of the protagonists are concerned with questions of madness and sanity. The study at hand focuses on the literary figures referred to as mad, crazy, lunatic, probing into their psychological unease and establishing what forms their madness takes. The reader is presented with a wide variety of intellectual and philosophical aberrations, behavioural oddities as well as ailments and emotional idiosyncrasies.