Lighting out for the global territory : postwar revisions of cultural anthropology and Jewish American identity in Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

4 Citations (Scopus)


Saul Bellow enthusiastically explored the creative possibilities of globalization after World War II, imagining a space of creative freedom outside the boundaries of the nation-state. In so doing he helped to transform American Jewishness from a leftist culture rooted in working-class politics and racial alliances into a more syncretic, market-oriented form of identity. His major work of travel fiction, Henderson the Rain King, criticizes European colonial discourse and valorizes the hybrid cosmopolitan Dahfu, psychotherapist and African king, who acts as Henderson’s intellectual mentor. Although antiracist in intent, Bellow’s vision of travel-fueled 3 professional autonomy opposes collective movements for social change and nationalist resistance to imperialism, which helps to explain his neoconservative turn in the 1970s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-316
Number of pages30
JournalELH - English Literary History
Issue number1
Early online date15 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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