Review: Herzog by Saul Bellow

HerzogHerzog by Saul Bellow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Herzog. I was not prepared for the level of intellectual introspection throughout and had a hard time following Herzog's internal dialogue. Confession: I did a lot of skipping. But first, a description. Herzog is an academic in his late 40s who has reached a dead end emotionally, personally, professionally and philosophically. His academic career is on hold due to his failed second marriage which pulled him away from his work and into a devastating betrayal by his wife and best friend. Herzog struggles to connect to his current girlfriend who, like all of his "mistresses" (the way Herzog interacts with his love interests seems dated) is self-effacing, boundlessly supportive and worshipful of the great Herzog. He sees his children only on brief camp visits and spying on them through windows.

While the internal dialogue is tough to follow, they are artful, subtle and meaningful. Herzog writes endless letters to people with whom he disagrees, needs to clarify, or confess. However, the scenes which resonated the most with me were his memories of his family, growing up, and the unforgettable court scene.

This is a classic and pretty much required reading--definitely on the challenging side. However, I would recommend the earlier The Adventures of Augie March or Henderson the Rain King to readers who want an introduction to Bellow.

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