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Herzog

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  18,645 ratings  ·  1,100 reviews
This is the story of Moses Herzog, a great sufferer, joker, mourner, and charmer. Although his life steadily disintegrates around him - he has failed as a writer and teacher, as a father, and has lost the affection of his wife to his best friend - Herzog sees himself as a survivor, both of his private disasters and those of the age. He writes unsent letters to friends and ...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published February 25th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  18,645 ratings  ·  1,100 reviews


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Dave Russell
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was ok
Dear Saul,
I'm afraid it's over. I can no longer have you on my favorite authors list.
(No, no let go of F. Scott's sleeve. You're only making this harder than it needs to be.) I want to tell you how much I loved Henderson the Rain King. One of my favorites. It was so full of wit and energy. Then I had to go and read this piece of crap, Herzog. Whereas Henderson was an adventure, this was just a big long bitch session. (Hey, give Borges back his cane.) Yes, fine maybe it's me. In fact I'm sure it
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Herzog is one of Bellow's most enduring characters and this is one of his best books. When not screwing up his life, his letters to people real, dead and imaginary kept me laughing the entire time. I loved how despite everything, there is a feeling of exuberance about life in this book and it made me want to go back and read it again in a year. Highly entertaining, there is never a dull moment and lots and lots of humor. I would say for those that have not read Bellow that this is an excellent j ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Herzog, Saul Bellow

Herzog is a 1964 novel by Saul Bellow. It won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and the Prix International. In 2005, Time magazine named it one of the 100 best novels in the English language since Time's founding in 1923.

Herzog is set in 1964 in the United States, and is about the midlife crisis of a Jewish man named Moses E. Herzog. At the age of forty-seven, he is just emerging from his second divorce, this one particularly acrimonious. He has two children, one by eac
...more
Daniel
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
During the time I was reading "Herzog," NPR coincidentally ran one of its "You Must Read This" pieces, this one by Jeffrey Eugenides and touting Saul Bellow's novel. In the piece, Eugenides says:
There's a little thing I do when I can't write: When I'm feeling sleepy, when my head is in a fog, I reach across my desk, digging under the piles of unanswered mail, to unearth my copy of "Herzog" by Saul Bellow. And then I open the book — anywhere — and read a paragraph.

It always works. Right away I'm
...more
Fergus
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was the book that started me reading everything this Nobel Prize-winning American had written till then...

It was one gorgeous summer in the sixties, in the back yard, sprawled lazily in the bright blue and red plastic hammock, oblivious to work, mosquitoes and rain clouds!

I remember reading Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night not long afterward. Yes - it was THAT summer - 1968.

George McGovern was the Dark Horse Democratic nominee in the Presidential election. The opposing Republican candid
...more
MihaElla
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Professor Moses Elkanah Herzog as main actor in ‘Herzog’ reminds me a great deal about another chief character, Ricardo Reis of Jose Saramago from ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’, both high-minded intellectuals, graduated and with an strong inclination towards philosophy, although it looks much more appropriate to M.E. Herzog than to Ricardo Reis who is a doctor by education and profession. Both of them enjoy rummaging, soberly deliberating within their own minds, losing themselves in wr ...more
AC
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has warts – oh, does it have warts…! Like Moses Herzog himself, this book is marred and marked with warts…. But it is a book of genius nonetheless – and not just in parts, but in whole – in scope and in depth….

I rarely write reviews about fiction – I’m not a literary type. One of the very few I’ve written worth reading is that of The Sun Also Rises. Fiction is not amenable to the type of analysis that comes most naturally to me.

Besides, I’ve only been reading fiction, after a long hi
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
The Noble Lion

Moses Herzog is an academic, an individual who is used to seeing himself as a prince, a noble, a patrician, a patriarch. He's not a plebeian. He's not upwardly mobile. He believes he's already at the peak. He's somebody who stands out from the crowd. He has dignity.

He displays "the pride of the peacock, the lust of the goat, and the wrath of the lion." Of these three characteristics, the most significant is that he is leonine (the ultimate compliment Saul Bellow would ever pay anyo
...more
Chrissie
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is without a doubt my favorite book by Saul Bellow. I am not sure it will speak to everybody, but it certainly spoke to ne. It captures the world of an educated, liberal, East Coast professor. He goes by the name of Moses E. Herzog, and yes, he is from a Jewish family. He is having a midlife crisis, has just gone through a second divorce and is looking back on his life. He is writing letters to friends, relatives and public figures, some dead and some alive. But these letters are NOT sent a ...more
Kemper
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Most of us have one big advantage over rich people and fictional characters when it comes to dealing with our personal issues. For example, look at Moses Herzog in this book. Herzog goes through an ugly divorce, and his circumstances allow him to wallow in his misery and behave erratically for months. I’m sure any of us in similar circumstances would like to put our lives on hold as we picked at our emotional scabs while ignoring our jobs and taking trips across Europe.

However, most of us don’t
...more
Kinga
Sep 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1964
To all the people that watched my brave struggle with this book; I dedicate this review to you.
I have really mixed feelings about this one. Was it an absolute struggle to read? Did I fall asleep after a page or two many times? Was I wishing I was reading something else, something were things actually happened, like, I don't know say The Dark Desires Of the Druids III: Desert and Destiny? The answer to all these questions is yes.

Now, was I reading it with a pencil in my hand underlining sentences
...more
Charles Matthews
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Considering that it's a novel with nothing you could call a plot, Herzog is an inexhaustible book. It touches on elemental human relationships (sexual, familial, social) and spins off into lofty philosophical debates, reflections on civilization, on the meaning of death, and on the American experience. It tempts a reader into close analysis while at the same time mocking such analysis. Moses Herzog is at once the most meticulously observed of characters and the most impossible to grasp as a whol ...more
Steven Godin
This is impeccable writing of the highest order and a reading experience I simply will not forget.
But it was never an enjoyable read, how could it be, as the main focal point Moses Herzog is such a depressing and bewildering figure to spend time with , dwelling on the past of failed marriages and writing letters to people that he never intends to send. As Moses is a writer and teacher Herzog does take a the philosophical approach with it's narrative, and Herzog himself is such a deeply drawn cha
...more
Rebecca
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moses Elkanah Herzog must be one of the most maddening protagonists in literature, but at the same time you can’t help but love him. This was my second Bellow novel, and I found it a challenging read: I kept setting the book aside, then picking it up only to read another 10 or 20 pages before setting it aside again. There were definitely moments when I thought I wouldn’t make it to the end, but then Bellow would come out with an amazing line that convinced me to give his alter ego another try.

No
...more
Stela

"Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?"

What is the world for the intellectual? The playground of his ideas or the hell of his emotions? For Moses Hezog, a forty-seven-year old former Professor in a mid-life crisis it is certainly both. Recently gone through a messy divorce and the tragi-comedy of a marital triangle, the hero looks for the cathartic liberation from this emotional ballast in two ways: by writing letters to acquaintances and strangers, to the living and the dead, and by remembering
...more
david
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saul-bellow
I believe this is the third Saul Bellow book, that I have read, after Augie March and Henderson.

Say what you might about the man and his stories, but of all the great writers that this country produces, Saul Bellow, remains among its’ top tier.

Few can write as well as he can.

The story is about his doppelganger, Moses Herzog, originally from Canada, with much of his life spent in Chicago and New York, the Berkshires.

It takes place during the mid-nineteen sixties. Herzog is a good-looking man and
...more
Alex
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who want to start an annoying argument about the Canon
Shelves: 2016
For a while Saul Bellow seemed poised to become one of the 20th century's most famous authors, but he seems to have faded into the second tier nowadays. He doesn't have the visceral power of Steinbeck, Wright or Baldwin, or the technical ambition of Faulkner or Woolf; he just writes good books. Maybe that cost him. My reaction to Augie March was, well, there's certainly nothing wrong with this book, nor is it going to change my life. "That's a good book," I thought. "Moving on."

And now here's H
...more
Paul
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-novels
This is rightly perceived to be a classic (4.5 stars), published in 1964. Written well before Bellow became the curmudgeonly conservative of his older age, when he attacked multiculturalism and post-modernism, it was a joy to read.
It concerns the mid-life crisis of Moses Elkanah Herzog; when his second wife Madeleine elects to end their marriage and start a relationship with Herzog’s best friend Valentine. Moses writes letters to and about all those involved (letters that are never posted) and a
...more
Alan
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I read this, I was living in the Berkshires not far from Herzog--or at least, not far from Norman Mailer in the summers. (Mailer would take his grandson-aged son to the Berkshire AA baseball games, in his Corvette.) Even closer than Herzog and Mailer lived two Russian BSO violinists and a Hungarian trombonist, in the summers. I improved my Russian through their aegis, but not my Hungarian. I was a college professor like Herzog, though not as sought-after by different institutions, nor yet a ...more
Mayra
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Novels without chapters bug me.
Herzog had some sort of dissection; sometimes the prose would be cut, only to be continued a couple spaces below. It still seemed vague and disorganized to me, having been for so long used to chapters and clear division.

I read a measly 18% of this book, and this is what I have to show for it:
This book was extremely hard for me to review. I’m still not completely sure I have a finished opinion on it. It had been on my to-read list forever. And it’s long been on the
...more
Marc
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a tough one to evaluate. I guess Moses Herzog is a typical (Jewish) intellectual who absolutely can not cope with the ordinariness of life. After two divorces he is confronted with the harsh reality. He tries to fight his midlife crisis and the rising frenzy by writing dozens of letters to friends, but also to celebrities. After many wanderings he finds, through a new wife and the solitary contemplation of nature, more or less peace with himself and life. That's the basic story. Quite in ...more
Jan Rice
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The plot is slight. Basically, Moses Herzog, a 47 year old man living in the early 1960s in New York and Chicago, an academic, a grandson of immigrants, has done okay, as long as he was in a stable marriage while having affairs whenever opportunity and desire presented itself. He is not doing okay now, though, because he fell into love and infatuation and married the object of them, ditching the first wife. Now wife no. 2 has manipulated, used, and left him for a best friend. In the course of th ...more
Perry
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Untruth in her
troth sallowed
the language, sullied
a certain conjugation:
how she lied
as she lay with me.
Apparently her
monogamy was too
close to monotony.

From "Cuckoldom," B.J. Ward

"A man is only as good as what he loves." Saul Bellow

While Herzog doesn't center on the misdeeds of Moses Herzog's second ex-wife and his former colleague/friend/her now-husband, Herzog's being shamelessly cuckolded by them has played a significant role in who Moses Herzog has come to be: an unstable college profe
...more
Corey
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Man, I just want to give Moses Herzog a hug. Any real review I could give would be a simple disservice to this wonderful novel, but this is one of the best stories I've read in a while, I genuinely didn't want it to be over as I was turning its last pages. Bellow's prose is beautiful, and I couldn't find a lazy sentence in the entire book. The characters are real and broken and loveable, and I will be sure to visit them again soon.
robin friedman
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rereading Herzog

I read Saul Bellow's National Book Award winning novel "Herzog" in the mid-1970s. I was in my mid-20s, had my first legal job, and wanted to keep my mind active beyond the practice of law. I remember the book appealed to me in its mix of lengthy philosophical reflection by its protagonist, Moses Herzog, together with Herzog's difficulty with sexuality.

After a long time of wanting to reread "Herzog", I took the opportunity to do so presented by staying at home through the pandemic
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tata J
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 and 1001 Must Read Books
This book was published in the year I was born: 1964. I will also always remember this book in the years to come because I read in while struggling with my jet lag here in Columbus, Ohio. I started reading this while in the stopover in Nagoya, Japan on my way here.

This book has won a number of accolades: National Book Award in 1965, All-TIME Magazine 100 Greatest Novels and listed both in the 501 and 1001 Must Read Books. It is said to be the major reason for Saul Bellow's bagging of the Nobel P
...more
David
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dear Herzog, Dear Bellow,
This book 'bout the fellow
Down-trodden, seems awfully bleak.
His life's done to Hell, lo
His skin's turned all yellow,
So what is there for him to seek?

Dear Moses, Dear Saul,
Where's gone your wherewithal?
It would seem that you've gone quite astray.
Lost two wives in all,
And your child: a lost doll,
Is it true "every dog has his day"?

Dear lover, Dear debtor,
Forgive me this letter,
I think I have quite lost my marbles!
I swear I'll get better,
Perhaps its the weather
That's making
...more
Darwin8u
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, aere-perennius
I can't imagine what it would have been like to have read this when it first was published. The power, the storm, the frenzy of Bellow's words is amazing. It is almost impossible to compare him to another writer. I don't mean to say that he is a better writer than others. It is just hard to group or contain him. He isn't bounded by boundaries. Sure, he is a madman, but there are no institutions built to contain him.
Vit Babenco
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An authentic intellectual is always an outsider or even an outcast.
“He didn't feel that Poggioli had done full justice to certain important figures – Rozanov, for instance. Though Rozanov was cracked on certain questions, like the Jewish ritual bath, still he was a great figure, and his erotic mysticism was highly original – highly. Leave it to those Russians. What hadn't they done for Western Civilization, all the while repudiating the West and ridiculing it!”
So like a hermit crab one should f
...more
Quo
Just a shade after the celebration of Saul Bellow's 100th birthday, I wanted to offer some congratulatory words, particularly singling out the author's novel, Herzog, a book I recently reread, having initially read it the year it was published. In honor of Mr. Bellow's centenary, I did attend a special birthday tribute in his honor, held in the town where he was raised and where many of his novels are set. Alas, there was a small group of well-wishers on hand & no cake for those who came out on ...more
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Guardian Newspape...: Herzog - July 2020 7 14 Jul 05, 2020 05:35PM  
Reading 1001: Herzog by Saul Bellow 2 5 May 28, 2020 11:41AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Herzog, duplicate 2 14 Feb 02, 2020 09:37AM  
Goodreads Librari...: duplicate 1 13 Dec 01, 2019 11:27AM  
The Bowie Book Club: Which edition are you reading and Book review 13 19 Sep 27, 2017 11:56AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Change cover 2 15 Jun 23, 2017 04:03PM  
The Bowie Book Club: Reading discussion + general comments, background and resources 3 21 Apr 09, 2017 05:24PM  

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Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He attended the University of Chicago, received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, and served in the Merchant Marines during World War II.

Mr. Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man, was p
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