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harry.derbyshire@kcl.ac.uk (London, UK)

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Herzog (Penguin Modern Classics)
Herzog (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Saul Bellow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable portrait of a troubled man who thinks too much, 2 Aug. 2001
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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