Herzog by Saul Bellow

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"I think I can say, however, that I have been spared the chief ambiguity that afflicts intellectuals, and this is that civilized individuals hate and resent the civilization that makes there lives possible. What they love is an imaginary human situation invented by their own genius and which they believe is the only true and the only human reality." Saul Bellow

The above quote was taken from one of the hundreds of letters, never sent, that were written by the protagonist of this novel - Moses Herzog. Herzog's letters are rich with philosophical insight and show the depth with which Bellow was able to write.

However, the purpose of this post is to turn to the readers of my blog to ask their own interpretation of Herzog. The book centered on one character the entire time. We are provided access to his writings, conversations and thoughts. Yet, even with such insight I struggled to understand him and therefore could not fully appreciate the book. What was driving him? How enraged was he by the divorce with his wife? How did he view modern society? I am curious for answers to these questions. Fresh insight from others is always appreciated.

3 comments:

TallTchr August 12, 2009 at 4:29 AM  

It's been thirty years since I read it, but what has stayed with me is that Moses challenges all who insist that reality has to be brutal. His name tells us that he is looking for a law, a new Torah, to guide him. As for Madeline, a feminist once pilloried me for saying that Moses/Bellow was a decent man. Impossible if he must depict this woman as such a perfidious bitch! She had a point; Bellow was no feminist. In the end, however, I find Herzog telling us about shaving and using witch hazel as an astringent, an indication that he is past his crisis and can still look himself in the mirror. A man has to work through things in his own way.

Herrad August 19, 2009 at 8:23 PM  

Hi,
Came by to say hello and wish you well.
Hope you are having a good day.
Love,
Herrad

TBlaze August 19, 2009 at 10:43 PM  

Great insight, TallTchr! Thanks. Seems your memory is quite good after nearly thirty years.

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