Friday, 1 April 2011
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Hertzog is a highly educated man that has reached middle age and is on the edge of a mental breakdown. He is going through his second (and rather messy) divorce and everything in general seems to be falling apart. In order to help himself get back on track he continuously writes letters to people (sometimes written out, and sometimes just done mentally) with no intent to send them. The novel is not made up entirely of these letters but they do interrupt the narrative throughout.
This is my first Bellow novel and I would describe it as challenging. The writing itself is very good but quite dense so if your mind wanders even for a second while reading, you immediately lose track of what’s going on and have to re-read parts. Added to the denseness of the writing are Hertzog's letters containing subjects which range from modern philosophy to general rants and reflections. These letters only made this more of a difficult read for me and I ended up becoming quite lost.
I did very much enjoy the last 50 pages but I am not sure if this is because the plot suddenly starts to move and become clearer or if because I had just gotten used to the writing? Hertzog hasn’t completely put me off Bellow as I did like the more positive message towards the end that the novel was trying to convey. So while my first Bellow novel was not entirely successful, I will read another of his books before I make my mind up about him.
Posted by Jess