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by Saul Bellow

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Download Herzog epub
ISBN: 8423309185
ISBN13: 978-8423309184
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Saul Bellow
Language: English
Publisher: Destino Ediciones (August 1996)
ePUB size: 1480 kb
FB2 size: 1886 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 691
Other Formats: docx doc rtf lrf

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Herzog is a book about a middle aged man and his reflections on life. He's had 2 failed marriages. He's a somewhat itinerant academic. He thinks about philosophy and history and literature. He tries to make sense of things. Tries. There's not a whole lot of plot. It meanders. Lots of him recollecting things, going off on mental tangents, to the point where most of the time I can't tell where he is or what time of day it is. He talks to friends, lawyers, his daughter. He writes letters that he never sends to intellectuals, world leaders and anyone he's in mind of. He ponders (a lot). Occasionally he looks around his environment - the train to the beach, a cab, graffiti, the store, etc.

Cons - it's rambling. I tried reading it a few times before I finally got through it. I kept waiting for something to start happening. I had to get past that expectation. Stuff does happen, but it's buried under an exceptional amount of discursion. Much of what happens is just in Moses Herzog's head.

Pros - Rambling could also be considered, more charitably, as non-linear. Moses overthinks things, but this is something many people, if not all, can relate to. There is some good description. You get a certain feel for what life is like from the eyes of a particular individual. That is something I especially like from a book.

In sum - I'm glad I read it, for the most part, but I wouldn't say it left me wanting more. My guess is that a lot of people can't get past the first chapter or two but that those that do really click with it. So the rating of the book is skewed that way. (Though maybe this is true for all books.)
This 1961book is still relevant. It may not appeal to everyone, but the tory of a philosophy teacher having a nerous breakdown and trying to recover by writing letters to people in power but never mailing them I sad and funny at the same times. His descriptions of Chicago, where I lived, are interesting in terms of the changes of the prsesseent . So many issues sthat poor Moses SHerzog raises still exist today. I enjoyed it very much.
As NYer book reviewer James Wood wrote, "Reading Bellow is a special way of being alive." "Henderson the Rain King" is my favorite title by Bellow, but Herzog comes second, worth a read and maybe a re-read. Bellow's characters always are robust, full to overflowing with life. It's good to meet them.
There's big-time grade inflation on this forum and no one is guiltier of this practice than me. I feel that if the book is entertaining, fits together tightly, stretches my thinking, and has passages of beauty, well, give it five stars. As the author of two novels that were finally self-published, I figure: Why make success even harder for the author?

Within this context, I'd say that HERZOG is also a five-star book, except that it's much much better. This is because in each of these categories--entertainment, structure, insight, and beauty--HERZOG is truly superb. It's off the charts.

The narrative line of HERZOG is simple. Essentially, this presents the thoughts and experiences of Moses Herzog over a few days as he travels from New York to Martha's Vineyard, back to New York, then to Chicago and ultimately to the Berkshires.

But as Herzog travels (and writes his zany letters), Bellow provides a spectrum of many characters who are both fully realized and who offer some choice to Herzog, which is somehow a reflection of, or parallel to, his own problems. The amazing thing about this is that these choices always come out of character. No one in HERZOG is simply a thin veil worn by Bellow to preach or to fill out a point in the argument.

Can the universe be considered benevolent? Or is reality crazy, cruel, and mercenary? These are the questions that torment Herzog on his journey. Certainly, there are plenty of high-minded professorial letters, with Herzog heckling Nietzsche and so on. But many of these letters are simply educated fun and it's the people that Herzog knows who really carry and explore the argument. It's absolutely brilliant stuff.

At the same time, Bellow organizes many of these characters in "V". At one corner is Moses Herzog, a self-absorbed academic who, in his own mind, is benevolent albeit befuddled. At another is Madeline, his ex-wife, in whom craziness and selfishness mix in a single dark brew. Then, Bellow arranges his characters on this "V" so that differences gradually narrow and ultimately disappear in Herzog's brother Willie, who helps Herzog at his nadir.

Near the end of this novel, Herzog plays a game with his little daughter June: try to distinguish between the world's shortest tall man and its tallest short man, its hairiest bald man and its baldest hairy man. Ultimately, this is also what Bellow does with his characters, showing that benevolence and pragmatism can finally exist in a single decent and sane person.

The flawless structure of this novel, however, is only part of its brilliance. Here's my favorite bit of Bellow's prose. It's funny, probably a professorial reference to Whitman, and straight out of Herzog's character: "...what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organized power. Subject to tremendous controls. In a condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home..."

I like this a lot more, understand much mord, than when it was required reading for me 35 years ago, so I'd recommend it, just not so much to young co!lege kids.
Item arrived on time & as described. very pleased.
The authors descriptions of people and nature ae masterful.
Brilliantly written but a difficult and not overly rewarding read. It would take months to truly follow all the directions that Herzog s mind takes one with full understanding. But one is nevertheless in awe of his descriptive ability and knowledge.