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Extended Audio Sample Herzog Audiobook, by Saul Bellow Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,394 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Saul Bellow Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2009 ISBN: 9781455195695
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Herzog is a man seeking balance, trying to regain a foothold on his life. Thrown out of his ex-wife’s house, 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—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.

Herzog is primarily a novel of redemption. For all of its innovative techniques and brilliant comedy, it tells one of the oldest of stories. Like The Divine Comedy, it progresses from darkness to light, from ignorance to enlightenment. Today it is still considered one of the greatest literary expressions of postwar America.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A masterpiece.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The book is a feast of language, situations, characters, ironies, and a controlled moral intelligence that transcends the fact that we are spectators at a hard luck story. Bellow’s rapport with his central character seems to me novel writing in the grand style of a Tolstoi—subjective, complete, heroic…Eventually Moses Herzog becomes as natural an American phenomenon as the faces carved on Mount Rushmore.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • Herzog has the range, depth, intensity, verbal brilliance, and imaginative fullness…of a novel that is unmistakably destined to last.”

    Newsweek

  • Herzog is Saul Bellow’s most famous, and perhaps best, novel—and one that translates wonderfully to audio…At first, narrator Malcolm Hillgartner’s voice seems a bit smooth for the character of Herzog, yet his presentation is highly effective. His polished tone complements the manic Herzog’s life and never distracts the listener from the focus—the inner life of an intellectual who is trying to come to grips with his own foibles.”

    AudioFile

  • “Bellow’s National Book Award-winning 1964 novel would not seem a good candidate for audio. It is largely an interior monologue in which Moses Herzog, reeling from a divorce, rants about the nature of the universe and composes letters (never to be mailed) to all variety of persons, living and dead (‘My Dear Mr. Nietzsche’). And, yet, thanks to Hillgartner’s nuanced reading, it makes great listening. Extended monologues, after all, are best experienced like music rather than text, the words rolling along in waves of sound, with the meaning following behind. Hillgartner gives us Bellows word waves in sonorous cadences, capturing the different voices of the various individuals Herzog encounters and remembers, as well as bringing flair to the various languages that pop up from time to time (Yiddish and French, mainly). Best of all, though, is his ability to capture Herzog’s emotional intensity as he reviews his life, fires off letters, and, ultimately, finds a kind of peace where he is finally free from sending messages to anyone.”

    Booklist

  • Winner of the 1965 National Book Award for Fiction
  • One of Time Magazine's Best 100 English-Language Novels from 1923–2005

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tony | 2/19/2014

    " Certain novels opened doors of wonder. This is one of them. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Teresa | 2/10/2014

    " Abandoned. I hate to admit defeat. I'll give Bellow another try with a different book, but this one got me. Just coulnd't get past about 150 pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roberta Marro | 2/7/2014

    " A strange, but compelling book. I'm not familiar with Saul Bellow's work, other than this book, but would like to read some more. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lilas | 1/17/2014

    " Bellow is really into imposing the phallus. I put up with the flaccid intellectualizing until I got to the part where the Japanese lover declares herself aroused by the sight of a flasher's penis. Dammit, Bellow, "Adventures of Augie March" was such a promising start! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adam Floridia | 1/15/2014

    " For future-reference's sake, I found this comment of mine in another thread: (I couldn't even bring myself to write a review of Herzog, for which I wavered between 4 and 5 stars!) "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Eoing | 1/9/2014

    " Wonderful opening line. All the way downhill from there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 1/3/2014

    " Book about man who learns to let go of words. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nichole | 12/29/2013

    " This is the only Saul Bellow book I have ever read. But I can say that I felt the characters were all so very unlikeable. So much so that I just couldn't care about their problems. If anything seemed like it would get interesting, Herzog just starting whining again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 12/9/2013

    " I liked Bellow's quirky humor, interesting settings and fun characters. On the other hand, I will never forgive him for (as I see it) dooming american literature to decades of crushing boredom from the litfic crowd. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Catherine Lacey | 11/22/2013

    " Sometimes people say "women don't really like Saul Bellow" but I didn't think that was true until I read Herzog. It was good, and Bellow is a good writer, but I did not like reading Herzog. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Keith Miller | 11/1/2013

    " Herzog (Penguin Classics) by Saul Bellow (2003) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Yeti | 9/30/2013

    " Philosophically complex ... emotionally gratifying ... a labyrinth of letters written by a lonely man. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Evan Saucier | 9/17/2013

    " Obviously astoudingly brilliant, but in that way that makes me glad I'm done and don't have to read it (or the author) again. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ben | 9/2/2013

    " A depressing and implausible tale about divorce. There are a few witty lines and ideas but not enough to make it worth slogging through. Apparently this was not the best first Saul Bellow book to start with. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joseph | 1/9/2013

    " Not an easy read, but well worth it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adamn! | 12/28/2012

    " Well-written and engaging, but too solipsistic, masturbatory, and macho for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 2/9/2012

    " Saul Bellow..Chicago writer, a real mensch...this book is sad, but has a glimmer of hope. A man on the brink of madness. A failed writer and teacher and husband. A lone wolf. Keep the motor running. Head out on the highway. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen Knezovich | 9/12/2011

    " Letters inside of letters inside of backstory inside of letters. Time is a total mind fuck in this book. Also, one of the best first lines ever: "If I am out of my mind, that's alright with me, thought Moses Herzog." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 lynn | 6/29/2011

    " I had trouble building much sympathy for Herzog and all his whining. Granted, his ex wife and friends were not much help, but for pete's sake, get a grip! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ulises | 5/6/2011

    " Herzog o la vida y obra de un típico judío norteamericano de clase media. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim | 4/6/2011

    " The man can write a sentence. I bogged down in the middle, found myself thinking "who cares?" after spending too much time in the protagonist's interior monologue and began to lose faith, but soldiered on, and the last third was very good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Randy | 3/22/2011

    " Extremely raw, very depressing at times, and neurotically beautiful. I read it because Jeffrey Eugenides recommended it on NPR. I didn't regret it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 lynn | 3/2/2011

    " I had trouble building much sympathy for Herzog and all his whining. Granted, his ex wife and friends were not much help, but for pete's sake, get a grip! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bimbo | 2/12/2011

    " Herzoga ne velja brati, ce niste pri volji za psihoanaliticno lamentiranje v vrtincu srednjih let izgubljenega moškega. Ce pa ste, je Herzog cisto zanimiva in dobro napisana knjiga. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Georgie | 1/30/2011

    " Best thing about this book was the cover. Over hyped. Appreciate it was well written. But really, I like a stronger narrative and the self-invovled introspection was too much to make the story enjoyable.

    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Etienne | 1/3/2011

    " Hell of a funny book. "

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About the Author
Author Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow (1915–2005), author of numerous novels, novellas, and stories, was the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards. He also received the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, Bellow served as a war correspondent for Newsday. He taught at New York University, Princeton, and the University of Minnesota and was chairman of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr.