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This nameless narrator has used his special talent to prosper, marry a rich WASP, and live in a priceless 18th-Century colonial house in Philadelphia.

He has parlayed this into the Mnemosyne Institute, which gathers large fees for teaching businesses and government agencies the techniques of memory. It is brain memory; not the real thing. It is emotional memory, memory of the heart.


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He too has prospered, as the inventor of an improved thermostat and the husband of the brilliant, powerful and impressively fat Sorella, who ran the business for him. The remarkable thing about Fonstein is his obsession: All his life he had tried to meet his benefactor and had perpetually been rebuffed.


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  • Fonstein is the Jew of the Old World. Benefaction is a link in the chain of humanity; thanks is another link. Together, they pull human beings into a community.

    Saul Bellow’s ‘The Bellarosa Connection’

    If the narrator, Americanized and comfortable, has slipped the chain of memory and obligation, Rose stands for its violent shattering. He is the New York avoidance reflex. New Yorkers will help but they will help tough, almost as an act of aggression. Sign in now. Popular in Mosaic.

    Saul Bellow's 'The Bellarosa Connection' - Wales Arts Review

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      Subscribers to Mosaic get:. He recalls the story of his relative Harry Fonstein who escapes Hitler and flees to Italy where he works as a waiter in Rome. Rose is a flamboyant theatrical impresario and newspaper gossip columnist who collects fine art and has made a fortune from show business. He keeps his rescue operation secret and will not even meet the people he saves.

      The narrator assumes that the Mafia are also involved in his operations. Fonstein escapes to America where he is detained on Ellis Island. From there he is exported to Cuba, and forbidden to mention Billy Rose. In Cuba he works as an assistant and educates himself through part-time study. A marriage is arranged with an overweight woman from America, which gives him naturalisation papers.

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      He moves to New Jersey where he becomes successful running a plumbing supplies business. When he tries to thank Billy Rose for saving his life, all his overtures are rejected.. He then meets the Fonsteins on holiday in Israel, where Billy Rose is staying at the same hotel. The narrator declines the offer of seeing the documents. Sorella arranges a meeting with Billy Rose and uses the documents as blackmail in an attempt to persuade Rose to give her husband a brief audience. Rose vigorously defends his reputation and refuses her request.

      She throws the documents at him — but they go out of the window..

      Saul Bellow’s Literary Response to American Jewish Passivity during the Holocaust

      The narrator makes phone calls to people who might know — and gets short shift from them. When he finally locates the address, a young man is house-sitting. He reveals that the Fonsteins were killed in a motor accident six months earlier. They were on their way to their mathematically gifted son who had taken up gambling and was in trouble. As he said of this topic in an interview, commenting on the absence of these topics in his earlier work: Somehow I managed to miss the significance of some very great events.

      The Bellarosa Connection — critical comment Literature and history Whilst the characters in the novel are fictional constructs, Billy Rose was a real-life historical person.