Herzog Seeks, Misses, Key to Life

Dust jacket of Herzog shows shadowy black figure on blue backgroundSaul Bellow’s Herzog is the sort of novel about which critics utter phrases like “certain to be talked about.”

I’ll say the novel contains some clever sentences. (I particularly liked, “He was a piece of human capital badly invested.”) But  it takes more than a few good sentences to make a novel.

Having a plot is always useful.

Bellow seems to have missed the boat there.

The story, such as it is, concerns Moses E. Herzog, 47, a man with two ex-wives, two children, and a trail of fondly remembered sex partners.

Herzog may not be crazy, but he is definitely a guy with issues.

Most of the book is Herzog’s letters to friends, family, colleagues, strangers, each attempting to set the record straight. He writes others were wrong, he was right.

Herzog reminds me of Edward Casaubon in George Eliot’s  nineteenth century novel Middlemarch. Casaubon wants to find the key to all mythologies; Herzog wants to find the key to all of life. If Casaubon had written a personal memoir, it would have sounded a lot like Herzog’s scribbling, although to give Herzog his due, he does have a sense of irony which Casaubon entirely lacks.

Herzog finally writes himself into exhaustion and winds up back in the same neglected house where the story began.

 Herzog
by Saul Bellow
New York: Viking Press
1964 bestseller #3
341 pages
My grade C

 © 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Advertisements

Published by

Linda Aragoni

I'm passionate about helping people learn through the medium of nonfiction writing. Although I occasionally have an idea of my own, I mostly build education tools by recycling and repurposing other folks' ideas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s