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The Heart of Saulness

In response to:

The Obedient Bellow from the April 28, 2011 issue

To the Editors:

I was reminded of this by Edward Mendelson’s fine article about Saul Bellow [“The Obedient Bellow,” NYR, April 28]. Some years ago when Bellow came to Aspen for the summer we used to go on hikes together. In the course of one of these he told me the following. When he was writing Henderson the Rain King he did not have the money to go to Africa for any research so he used the library. But when he did have the money he decided to go to Kenya. He went to Abercrombie and Fitch to get himself a suitable bush outfit including the solar topee.

After his first night in Nairobi he decided to go for a walk and of course dressed in his outfit, solar topee and all. Once on the street it became clear that the locals were wearing ordinary business clothes, which often included jacket and tie. But in the distance he spotted another white person also in a bush outfit and solar topee. When the two met Bellow discovered that it was Saul Steinberg.

Jeremy Bernstein
Aspen, Colorado

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