Herzog

by: Saul Bellow

Important Quotations Explained

How different he felt! Confident, even happy in his excitement, stable. The bitter cup would come round again, by and by.

Moses says this to himself in the last section of the book when he realizes how happy and content he is. This quote is important because it points to the instability of even happiness. The book seems to end optimistically, but it is quite possible that this whole ending episode of happiness is just that: an episode, a moment. Even if it is just a moment, however, it does not matter because even if he has to go through suffering again he will reach happiness again. The cyclical structure and frame of the book is perhaps symbolic of the cyclical structure of one's life (the constant turns from suffering to happiness and vice versa). In this case Hegel would be both correct and incorrect in thinking that there is an ultimately upward progression in the life of the human being because life would be circular and not linear. Except, of course, that one may say that the line of life is made up of these smaller circles. And yet, whether Hegel is write or wrong does not matter because philosophy, as Moses comes to understand, is just another form of religion and religion is always uncertain.