First edition cover
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Dangling Man is a 1944 novel by Saul Bellow. It is his first published work.
Written in diary format, the story centers on the life of an unemployed young man named Joseph, his relationships with his wife and friends, and his frustrations with living in Chicago and waiting to be drafted. His diary serves as a philosophical confessional for his musings. It ends with his entrance into the army during World War II, and a hope that the regimentation of army life will relieve his suffering. Along with Bellow's second novel The Victim, it is considered his "apprentice" work.
Some critics, including Edmund Wilson and Kenneth Fearing, deplored the novel's lack of a definite plot, but praised Bellow's depiction of what they saw as the characteristic features of the generation of American intellectuals raised during the Great Depression. Dangling Man can be seen as a superfluous man narrative, raising interesting parallels with Turgenev's The Diary of a Superfluous Man and exploring the 19th-century Russian literary concept through a contemporary American experience.
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