Herzog Paperback – Oct 9 1996
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A novel complex, compelling, absurd and realistic, Herzog became a classic almost as soon as it was published in 1964. In it Saul Bellow tells the tale of Moses E. Herzog, a tragically confused intellectual who suffers from the breakup of his second marriage, the general failure of his life and the specter of growing up Jewish in the middle part of the 20th century. He responds to his personal crisis by sending out a series of letters to all kinds of people. The letters in total constitute a thoughtful examination of his own life and that which has occurred around him. What emerges is not always pretty, but serves as gritty foundation for this absorbing novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A feast of language, situations, characters, ironies, and a controlled moral intelligence . . . Bellow’s rapport with his central character seems to me novel writing in the grand style of a Tolstoy—subjective, complete, heroic." —Chicago Tribune
"Herzog has the range, depth, intensity, verbal brilliance, and imaginative fullness—the mind and heart—which we may expect only of a novel that is unmistakably destined to last." —Newsweek
"A masterpiece" —The New York Times Book Review--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
His second wife Madeleine recently ran away with his best friend, taking their young child with her. Herzog is filled with hatred towards her, but, strangely, it is an oddly amiable hatred. He recognises her good qualities, wishes her well in life, and generally doesn't want to ever see her again no matter what. The breakup with her is certainly the pivotal point for his madness, most of the events and thoughts in the novel surround her or the marriage.
Through his letters, Herzog explores his past and previous relationships. A letter to an old school friend will trigger memories of his failed crook of a father, a letter to a favoured philosopher will trigger memories of sleeping late with Madeleine and making love. We are rocketed back and forth, from Europe to America, childhood to adulthood with ease and skill, it never jars, but flows naturally.
Herzog is a very complicated character. He is aware of his own weaknesses, but only some he tries to fix. Others he is comfortable with, safe in the knowledge of what they are. He is a man who, while lacking confidence in some areas, has supreme confidence in who he is as a person. He does come off as arrogant sometimes, but he is aware of it, and to an extent enjoys the mild prestige of being the wise, in-print professor.Read more ›
What is complicated is Saul Bellow's trip deep into the psyche of his protagonist. Herzog is on the edge of a mental breakdown, and as one way of working through things he write notes and letters to colleagues, friends, celebrities, etc. Sometimes the notes are written out, and sometimes just done mentally; there is no intent to send them. These notes and letters (although admittedly central to the story and to Herzog's character) also serve as a showcase for Bellow's own intellectual acuity, a notion I could never quite put aside. The notion that Bellow was, to put it plainly, "showing off". All and all, though, this really is a challenging read and one that will give you a good idea of Bellow's style.
Bellow remains a masterful storyteller, though if you're looking for an action-filled novel, this isn't the one for you. His descriptions are impeccable, and I don't know of any modern novelists who can depict characters in such a masterly fashion. As you read, the images flow into your mind seamlessly; there are very few times that you have to stop reading in order to compose a mental image of what is depicted. Despite Herzog's academic rants, Bellow manages to create a character so familiar in Americana: constantly moving, constantly disappointed, and constantly searching for his or her next step. Bellow's novels are among the most satisfying reads; while difficult, they leave you with the feeling that you have eaten a large yet nonfilling meal, and while your stomach acknowledges that you've eaten a lot, you're still hungry for more.
Most recent customer reviews
The funny thing about Herzog is that it's no longer contemporary fiction. In terms of language, operating philosophies, and identifiable character types, it's as far behind us as... Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2003 by Vince Leo
"Herzog" is the story of a man with a wide perspective of world history contemplating the absurdities of the twentieth century, not the least of which is his own life. Read morePublished on July 16 2002 by A.J.
I was prompted to write this because most of the reviewers published here miss the plain fact that Herzog is extremely funny. Herzog writes letters. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2002 by Mark B. Friedman
Herzog is a sustained character study of an engaging, thoughtful man in the midst of a personal crisis. Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2002
This wasn't what I'd call a lot of fun to read. But it was worth it!
I am in awe of Bellow's ability to gather together the tiny impressions, thoughts, and actions that... Read more
I agree with the negative reviews of this book. Herzog never becomes a fully realized character and it's impossible to care about him or, ultimately, this novel. Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2001
As is obvious from other reviews, this book is not for everyone. I found Herzog to be at once both both a lovable and despicable, comedic and tragic character; in other words,... Read morePublished on July 16 2001 by G. Loflin