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Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, gripping study of value, intellect and breakdown, 10 Jun. 2008
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This review is from: Herzog (Penguin Modern Classics) (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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