Winner of the National Book Award when it was first published in 1964, Herzog traces five days in the life of a failed academic whose wife has recently left him for his best friend. Through the device of letter writing, Herzog movingly portrays both the internal life of its eponymous hero and the complexity of modern consciousness.
Like the protagonists of most of Bellow's novels - Dangling Man, The Victim, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, etc. - Herzog is a man seeking balance, trying to regain a foothold on his life. Thrown out of his ex-wife's house, he retreats to his abandoned home in Ludeyville, a remote village in the Berkshire mountains to which Herzog had previously moved his wife and friends. Here amid the dust and vermin of the disused house, Herzog begins scribbling letters to family, friends, lovers, colleagues, enemies, dead philosophers, ex- Presidents - anyone with whom he feels compelled to set the record straight. The letters, we learn, are never sent. They are a means to cure himself of the immense psychic strain of his failed second marriage, a method by which he can recognize truths that will free him to love others and to learn to abide with the knowledge of death. In order to do so he must confront the fact that he has been a bad husband, a loving but poor father, an ungrateful child, a distant brother, an egoist to friends, and an apathetic citizen.
Herzog is primarily a novel of redemption. For all of its innovative techniques and brilliant comedy, it tells one of the oldest of stories. Like The Divine Comedy or the dark night of the soul of St. John of the Cross, it progresses from darkness to light, from ignorance to enlightenment. Today it is still considered one of the greatest literary expressions of postwar America.
"Herzog has the range, depth, intensity, verbal brilliance, and imaginative fullness - the mind and heart - which we may expect only of a novel that is unmistakably destined to last." ( Newsweek)
Cosa ne pensano gli iscritti
- S. Wragg
Can't understand the two previous visitors giving this 2 stars each! It's a brilliant book, and it's brilliantly narrated. There.
11 su 11 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione
A Huge Dissapointment
So Bellow is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Nobel prize winner and this is one of his most celebrated works. But what a letdown.
It has its moments but the problem is Bellow's women. They are insufferable and this is not always intentional. Bellow devotes most of the book describing them. Maybe it is meant to be comical but it did not feel that way. I found it tedious and irritating.
The narration is good and it was perhaps the only reason I could finish the book.
No post 50s American fiction for some time.
3 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione
A Twentieth Century masterpiece
A fine reading of a remarkable novel. Bellow's virtuosic prose has never been funnier, richer or more emotionally affecting than it is here. The cuckolded Herzog is a brilliant creation, and his manic letter-writing allows Bellow to riff furiously and joyously on all manner of subjects. But behind all of the ideas and the astonishing descriptions (particularly of people - has anyone ever described the outward appearance of characters more precisely or creatively than Bellow?), not to mention the endless pageant of quotable lines, there is a deeply serious core: a completely authentic depiction of the pain and pathos of a broken marriage.
Perhaps more than any of his other works, this one sees Bellow going toe-to-toe with Joyce. For most writers this would be a futile exercise, but Bellow emerges from it with huge credit. It is also a book in which the author seemingly wrote himself better after a dark period in his life. The product is not only a wonderfully vivid and vivacious display of sustained prose - it is a true landmark in the history of the novel.