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Herzog

Saul Bellow

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

full title · Herzog

type of work · Novel

genre · Modernist Novel, American Novel

language · English

time and place written · The 1960s, in the United States (New York and Chicago)

date of first publication · 1964

publisher · First published in the United States by Viking Press and then, in the same year, in Great Britain by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

narrator · An anonymous third-person narrator. The narrator is simply an outside voice, recounting Moses Herzog's history. The narrator describes Moses mainly by narrating Moses's memories and his fictional letters. Occasionally, the novel uses first person narration, and events unfold through Moses' perspective.

point of view · Third person, with occasional first person narration. The point of view is consistently Moses'. The anonymous third-person narrator sometimes apprises the reader of facts that Moses does not yet know.

tone · Ambiguous

tense · Present. Past tense is used when memories are being described.

setting (time) · 1960s

setting (place) · Massachusetts, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Canada

protagonist · Moses Herzog

major conflict · Moses' interior struggle to find truth successfully balance the contradictions of his thoughts and of his life. Moses struggles to balance the outside world and his interior world, and society and himself.

rising action · Moses buys a house in the Berkshires, divorces his wife, and becomes miserable. He recounts his life and writes letters.

climax · Moses and his daughter have a car accident in Chicago

falling action · Moses goes to jail, returns to the Berkshires, and arranges a meeting with Ramona. He ceases to write his letters and comes to terms with his life and self.

themes · The power of ambiguity; the internal journey of modern man

motifs · The letters, philosophy and psychology, and women and sex

symbols · Flowers, the clock, the house in the Berkshires

foreshadowing · The memory of Jonah threatening Moses with a gun, foreshadows Moses's own intentions. The gun itself also foreshadows violence and finality.

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Herzog: a depressive scholar

by thefirstlady33, September 12, 2013

In section one, Moses Herzog is found alone in a big old house in the Berkshires, reflecting on his past, trying to come to terms with his troubled life: middle aged, twiced divorced, impotent.
He is thought to be out of his mind by Madeline, his ex-second wife, who fell in love with Valentine, his best friend.

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