Saul Bellow's counterview, from The Adventures of Augie March on, is that alienation is a modern piety. His imagination inclines toward an epic enlargement of character. Epic enlargement in the modern world is always threatened by reality, but certain writers with the gift, temperament, and courage refuse to be intimidated. Bellow has had to contend with a modem view that calls the existence of character into question. Bellow's protagonists look for spiritual fulfillment in relationships, or better, friendships with superior beings. Bellow is a master of the art of portraiture, a rarity in a time when the existence of the self has been put into question. Bellow's verbal elan, his mastery of tone, his gift for evoking a sense of place, they all deserve the praise they have received, but perhaps his greatest distinction is in his depiction of the human characters that inhabit the landscape of his experience.