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Herzog (1964)

von Saul Bellow

Weitere Autoren: Siehe Abschnitt Weitere Autoren.

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
4,774581,882 (3.68)171
In one of his finest achievements, Nobel Prize winner Bellow presents a multifaceted portrait of a modern-day hero, a man struggling with the complexity of existence and longing for redemption. Winner of the National Book Awards.
  1. 40
    Der Prozess von Franz Kafka (SanctiSpiritus)
  2. 20
    Der Steppenwolf von Hermann Hesse (roby72)
  3. 10
    Wut von Salman Rushdie (thorold)
    thorold: Rushdie's Fury is an ironic 21st century take on the professor-as-victim theme, with a whole string of references back to Herzog.
  4. 21
    Schuld und Sühne von Fyodor Dostoyevsky (SanctiSpiritus)
  5. 10
    Das Geschäft des Lebens Roman von Saul Bellow (SanctiSpiritus)
  6. 00
    Zenos Gewissen von Italo Svevo (roby72)
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Moses Herzog is a former professor of romanticism, and he is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Having been twice divorced and somewhat estranged from his two children, one with each of his first two wives, he is reminiscing, reviewing memories, and trying to make sense of his life’s relationships. Much of the novel consists of letters Moses writes to people he has known and eminent people of the 1960s setting of the story. The book is told mainly in the third person, except for the many unsent letters. The views shared are those of Moses. The narration successfully convinces the reader that the legitimate viewpoints of other characters must be authentic. Still, there is not enough dialog or evidence to know whether Moses has projected these views upon them.

The narrator reveals his inconsistent philosophy about everything: politics, religion, sex, civilization, etc. Much of it is thought-provoking, yet it forces the reader to consider whether his stream of consciousness writing is insanity or simply the eccentrics of an academic. He is lonely and soul-searching about his decisions during his life. Saul Bellows’ story fleshes out a man’s extreme introspection and reflection. The novel forced me to wonder whether Moses and other academics can genuinely accept the ambiguities of life. ( )
  LindaLoretz | May 13, 2022 |
self absorbed middle-aged academic
  ritaer | Jun 5, 2021 |
The next book along my shelf was one I had read some time ago. It had kept its place because on a first reading I felt I had not fully come to grips with it. I had found it intellectually challenging, because of the way it is written. It takes the form of a narrative story, interrupted by the thoughts of the protagonist (Herzog), expressed in self penned letters, which questioned the state of the world and his place in it. I remember finding the letters an interruption of the narrative flow that required a different mind-set to fully appreciate them. The letters, or in some cases parts, or fragments of letters are integral to the text, but are made distinctive by being type set in italics. I found the reading experience exactly the same this time around, and was tempted to gloss over parts of the longer letters.

Moses Elkanah Herzog is a forty something jewish male who is undergoing a mid life crisis. He is an academic, currently not employed, living alone in a large remote house in the countryside. He seems to be at war with the world at large and in particular with his ex-second wife Madeleine who has turned him out of their conjugal home and is living with his best friend. He is spending his time thinking of his past and how he has arrived in his current situation. Part of this process, which maybe a healing process, is writing letters to people from his past and also to fellow academics and politicians: the letters remain unsent. Moses would appear to have many things in his favour: although not a rich man, his two brothers are both rich and supportive, he has made his mark in the world of academic publications, he owns the house in the countryside that he has renovated himself; he is fit and in good health and is attractive to the opposite sex. The narrative finds him travelling to see two of his female admirers and also to have time with his young daughter Junie who lives with Madeleine and Gersbach her lover.

Herzog wallows in self pity, perhaps brought on by paranoia, but also by writers block. The most important person in the world; Herzog's world is Herzog himself and he is judgemental on all of the people around him especially the women. He claims that Madeleine finds him over-bearing, infantile, demanding, sardonic and a psychosomatic bully and by his own story there is plenty of evidence of all of this. He repeatedly refers to Madeleine as that bitch and while her actions have given him cause for grievance one wonders how much of this he has brought on himself. In mitigation he fills in the background of the struggles of his poor ancestors and his relationships with friends and other women as well as the state of the world that he finds oppressive. He asses himself at the start of the novel and finds his characteristics: narcissistic, masochistic, anachronistic and his clinical picture is depressive, but there are worse cripples around:

"Satisfied with his own severity, positively enjoying the hardness and factual rigour of his judgement, he lay on his sofa, his arms rising behind him, his legs extended without aim."

Herzog's relationships with women form the central core of the novel. There is much about his marriage to Madeleine for whom he has not a good word, apart from the fact that she is drop dead gorgeous. There is Sono the Japanese lady who he was seeing when he met Madeleine. There is Wanda with whom he had an affair and now there is Ramona. The egotistical Herzog sees relationships with women as a battle of the sexes and carnal relations are apparently the major reasons to get involved. He thinks:

"The man wants to deceive, and then to disengage himself: the woman's strategy is to disarm and detain him."

While one might be hard pressed to accuse Herzog of misogyny, one would certainly say he shows a lack of respect for the women in his life, only asking himself what they can do for him. The fact that they seem to do a lot for him is duly recorded, but they are never allowed to get too close.

Herzog in an attempt to get custody of his daughter Junie visits the Magistrates courts where he sits in the public gallery and witnesses a couple of trials, a small time crook immersed in poverty and then a nineteen year old mother accused of battering her daughter to death because she made too much noise. Leaving the court he visits his family residence and takes a gun from his fathers office with a vague idea of getting even with Madeleine and Gersbach, but following a traffic offence he finds himself in a Chicago police precinct and after his second brush with lives outside of his own, he takes himself back to his house in the Countryside. He settles down again and sets about making the house liveable, he stops writing his letters, he is visited by a concerned brother and Ramona, but underlying a Hollywood ending is that Herzog is still Herzog.

Back to the letters: an integral part of this novel and woven into the narrative with great skill. They are thought provoking, many of them are witty, certainly cheeky and occasionally angry, but they remain a problem for this reader. While they provide a background to Herzog's thoughts by providing context for the early 1960's and the fears of many people such as: increasing violence, annihilation as a result of the atomic age and governments threatening the freedom of the individual, they tend not to have a direct relevance to the story: they tend to intrude. I found the best solution for me was to go back and re-read the longer letters, when I had finished the narrative. They are in themselves something of a tour de force, but they can be a fault line.

Herzog is an original novel, but it is also a novel of its time. It would seem to have an autobiographical feel to it: Herzog is Bellow and while I can sympathise with academic jewish angst and vouch for many of the attitudes of males from the battles between the sexes at the time: I am not jewish, I am not an academic and not all the women in my life have been so stunningly attractive as described in Bellows book, I am therefore still keeping my distance from a novel that does not completely work for me and so 4 stars. ( )
1 abstimmen baswood | Feb 15, 2021 |
It was okay. Not much happened but I learned a lot about Jewish male angst in the mid 20th century. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
I have to confess I've tried hard to read all that 'modern American stuff' (maybe a bookshelf) and I just don't like it. Why three stars? I'm just not feeling mean this morning. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Anybody who has gotten some distance from a heartbreak’s wickedest throes, and wants to understand it, and wants to feel again the vibrancy of mind that made love possible in the first place, should read... Herzog.
A masterpiece... Herzog's voice... for all its wildness and strangeness and foolishness is the voice of a civilization, our civilization... The book is new and classic, and its publicaiton now... suggests that things are looking up for America and its civilization.
hinzugefügt von GYKM | bearbeitenThe New York Times Book Review, Julian Moynahan
With this new work, his sixth novel, Saul Bellow emerges not only as the most intelligent novelist of his generation but also as the most consistently interesting in the point of growth and development. To my mind, too, he is the finest stylist at present writing fiction in America.
hinzugefügt von GYKM | bearbeitenBook Week, Philip Rahv
A novel that is certain to be talked about and written about for a long time to come, Herzog reinforces my conviction that Bellow is the leading figure in American fiction today.
hinzugefügt von GYKM | bearbeitenSaturday Review, Granville Hicks

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (38 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Bellow, SaulHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Vreede, Mischa deÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Epigraph (Motto/Zitat)
Pat Covici, dem grossen Lektor, und - mehr noch - grosszügigen Freund, ist dieses Buch herzlich zugeeignet.
Erste Worte
Wenn ich den Verstand verloren habe, soll's mir auch recht sein, dachte Moses Herzog.
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"Why to get laid is actually socially constructive and useful, an act of citizenship."
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Wikipedia auf Englisch (1)

In one of his finest achievements, Nobel Prize winner Bellow presents a multifaceted portrait of a modern-day hero, a man struggling with the complexity of existence and longing for redemption. Winner of the National Book Awards.

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Zusammenfassung in Haiku-Form

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Durchschnitt: (3.68)
0.5 2
1 22
1.5 7
2 51
2.5 13
3 150
3.5 50
4 240
4.5 33
5 143

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