Winner of the 1965 National Book Award for Fiction
Herzog is a man seeking balance, trying to regain a foothold on his life. Thrown out of his ex-wife's house after his wife leaves him for his best friend, Herzog retreats to his abandoned home in a remote village in the Berkshire Mountains. Amid the dust of the disused house, he begins scribbling letters to family, friends, lovers, colleagues, enemies, dead philosophers, ex-presidents, to anyone with whom he feels compelled to set the record straight. The letters which are never sent are a means to cure himself of the psychic strain of the failures of his life: that of being a bad husband, a loving but poor father, an ungrateful child, a distant brother, an egoist to friends, and an apathetic citizen. Primarily a novel of redemption, progressing from ignorance to enlightenment, Herzog is still considered one of the greatest literary expressions of postwar America.
A novel complex, compelling, absurd and realistic, Herzog became a classic almost as soon as it was published in 1964. In it Saul Bellow tells the tale of Moses E. Herzog, a tragically confused intellectual who suffers from the breakup of his second marriage, the general failure of his life and the specter of growing up Jewish in the middle part of the 20th century. He responds to his personal crisis by sending out a series of letters to all kinds of people. The letters in total constitute a thoughtful examination of his own life and that which has occurred around him. What emerges is not always pretty, but serves as gritty foundation for this absorbing novel.