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Bellow Saul : Herzog (USA) Paperback – 26 Nov 1981

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Paperback, 26 Nov 1981
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (26 Nov 1981)
  • ISBN-10: 0140042253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140042252
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,213,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

SAUL BELLOW's dazzling career as a novelist has been marked with numerous literary prizes, including the 1976 Nobel Prize, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. His other books include The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, Mr. Sammler's Planet, Seize The Day and The Victim. Saul Bellow died in 2005.

Malcolm Bradbury was a novelist, critic, television dramatist and Emeritus Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He was author of many novels, among them: The History Man (1975), which won the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize and was adapted as a famous television series; Rates of Exchange (1983), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Modern British Novel (1993) and Dangerous Pilgrimages (1995). Malcolm Bradbury was awarded the CBE in 1991 and died in 2000.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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IF I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By harry.derbyshire@kcl.ac.uk on 2 Aug 2001
Format: Paperback
Moses Herzog is a Jewish academic living in New York in the early Sixties. Following the disastrous break-up of his second marriage, he begins writing letters - first, to practically everybody he has ever met, and then to a varity of public and cultural figures living and dead. It doesn't take the reader long to realise that Herzog is having something of a crisis: his behaviour is erratic and his mind distracted as he remembers in vivid detail key scenes in his life. Perhaps we can make allowances, though - he is trying to make sense of what it means to be alive in the Western world in the second half of the twentieth century, after all. The book is not exactly big on plot, but a certain suspense does build as to whether he's going to get through it with his mind and body intact. The novel is also very well written, and at times dazzlingly so. As a character, Herzog is brilliantly realised - unquestionably an intellectual, he is entirely believable as betrayed husband, doting father, rebellious son, hesitant lover and more besides. The book is a modern classic which captures its time, and still has a lot to say to us about our lives as part of a society too advanced for easy comprehension.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By CJ on 10 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback
This novel starts with a ferociously strong image, then moves us into the mind of Moses Herzog. Herzog is a failing professor with an unfaithful second wife, a treacherous best friend, unwritten books and theses which remind him of his failings. Also, in a bizarrely wonderful twist, we find that Herzog writes letters avidly, even compulsively. These are largely to dead people, either relatives or historical figures he has never met. Also mathematicians - he writes to Euclid and points out why his theories don't add up.

The novel also contains a profound and bitter sense of betrayal, Herzog's as his marriage fails and his child whisked from him, Bellow's as similar events in his life mirrored the plot.

This is Bellow's most autobiographical work, including his bizarre childhood and the way he sees an exiled, crushed class (and race) adjust to their new lives, while he with his fabulously realised child's eyes sees only the surface, but sees things an adult would consider sinister.

This book is either a masterpiece or so close it makes no difference. Check it out when you're prepared to be tantalised and confused.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Bor on 27 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
Stunning novel about a middle aged academic almost driven insane by various personal and ideological crises, but who eventually manages to find some peace after experiencing events that finally seem to connect him with reality. I absolutely adored the quality of style and character, and although the plot is incredibly thin, you don't care because it is constructed so brilliantly to allow all those fascinating, perfectly described reminiscences. Definitely I was generally having that feeling of sickening jealousy for the sheer ability demonstrated, albieit in quite a showy way. There are many incredible lines, either simply involving profound observations on life, or via the wonderful eye for character details that Bellow has. The use of letters as a kind of stream of consciousness device works fantastically. Herzog's character is one of the most stunningly rich and real I've ever come across in literature, and the peripheral characters also feel very real and vivid. This novel seems incredibly autobiographical, in fact, and many of the details probably were taken from Bellow's life. The only slight criticism I have is that in one or two places it felt a little contrived. Ramona is obviously set up as the "healthy" choice and feels slightly thin for it. And why oh why would Herzog keep his gun in his pocket when visiting his daughter? This to me seemed totally unbelievable, and merely a silly device. But these tiny quibbles aside, this is definitely one of the best American novels I've ever read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Woolco on 25 Dec 2013
Format: Paperback
"This was the post-quixotic, post-Copernican USA, where a mind freely poised in space might discover relationships utterly unsuspected by a seventeenth-century man sealed in his smaller universe. There lay his twentieth-century advantage."

Well, yes, but doesn't that rather go without saying? After patiently appreciating the fluent and precise style of Bellow's writing: the elegant exposition of Herzog's thoughts, the gratifying attention to detail, the investment in minutai, ("The old dog, obese and bald, escaped in fear, claws rapping tiles - clickclick, clickclick"), the conjuring of a vile coterie of affected, self-serious, Jewish elite... After half a book of that, my patience tested, I have to say that my admiration palled a bit.

Perhaps it's the point, but the self-indulgent, egotistic ramblings of a successful, privileged academic between romances, hard done, admittedly, by a vicious ex-wife, struck me as a hollow study in pomposity and insipidity. If that is the point then it's hard won, because for me, the novel can't help but suffer from the unctuous and flattering treatment of Herzog, it becomes guilty by association.

Maybe that isn't the point. Maybe Bellow is, against the odds, pleading sympathy and redemption for his 'innocent' - his big baby. Stuff that. The novel is a rendering of a rarefied breed of inhumane, self-serving creatures, outwardly and invertedly representing the summit of civilisation. They are what success looks like, the novel seems to suggest. And it conspires with them, in its empty intellect and rhetoric, attempting, odiously, to outwit any objections with cunning.
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