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A crippled dandy, Gersbach is Madeleine's lover and Moses' best friend. Gersbach has only one leg, and he is a large, sexy presence. He can be read as an exaggerated, physicalized version of Moses. Like Moses, Gersbach is handsome and charming; like Moses' interior self, Gersbach is physically crippled. Moses even claims that Gersbach stole his style and his manners. Madeleine chooses Gersbach because he is capable of living in the outside world. Unlike Moses, Gersbach excels at conversation. Gersbach is capable of betrayal—he lies to his best friend and sleeps with his best friend's wife. He is also capable of love. Gersbach loves his son and probably loves Phoebe.
Gersbach is a sentimentalist, like Moses, and an actor, like Madeleine. He writes poems and cries while reciting them; he drives a Lincoln Continental but believes in Marx. Bellow writes about Gersbach with comic satire, making him enjoyable, sympathetic, and often worthy of our pity.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Herzog!