Jewishness in Soul Bellow’s Herzog毕业论文
1. Introduction 1
2.1 The reflection of Jewishness in Herzog 3
2.1.1 Alienation of Herzog 3
2.1.2 Marginalization of Herzog 4
2.2 The causes of Jewishness in Herzog 5
2.2.1 Objective causes–family and social background 5
2.2.2 Subjective cause–mental crisis 7
2.3 The sublimation of Jewishness in Herzog 8
2.3.1 The return of Jewish traditional culture 8
2.3.2 The self-redemption of Herzog 9
3. Conclusion 10
Works Cited 11
Jewishness in Saul Bellow’s Herzog
Saul Bellow is a major contemporary American-Jewish writer and his “stature in the postwar American letters can only be compared to that of Hemingway or Faulkner earlier in this century,”（Gloria L and Susan 1）and he was also the only novelist rewarded the National Book Award three times. As the youngest child of his parents, Bellow was born on June 10, 1915 in Quebec. He had immigrated to the ghetto, and resided in Canada before resettling in the United States. Bellow was admitted to the university of Chicago in 1933, and graduated in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology. Bellow got married with his first wife next year, then he was employed as a professor in several universities. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1976 and a gold medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977. On April 5, 2005, Saul Bellow died at the age of 89 in his home in Massachusetts.
As an immigrant moving to the United States with his family, Saul Bellow grew up in an environment where the American civilization mingled with his Jewish background. He underwent a lot of difficulties and challenges during his life, which provided a lot of materials for his writing.
Living in such an environment, Bellow found that it was a problem for most Jewish people to strike a balance between these two different cultures. And therefore, he devoted most of his works to exploring the problem of identity crisis. Most of the protagonists in his works are trying desperately to find their own identity, with no exception to Herzog.
Herzog, published in 1964, is the sixth novel of Saul Bellow, which is considered as the most important representative of his novels. The story took place in 1960s in the United States. The protagonist Herzog is a Jewish university professor of deep learning. He experiences two marriages, both of which end up with divorce. Herzog is nearly at the breaking point when he is betrayed by his second wife, Madeleine, who has love affairs with his best friend, Gersbach. Besides, the social influence in the United States at that time seems to contribute a lot to his lost balance in mind. Herzog seems depressed and eccentric after a series of events. He begins scribbling letters endlessly to everyone under the sun, to the newspapers, to the people in public life, to friends and relatives, to the living and the diseased, even to himself and the God, but never mails.
One day, Herzog suddenly flies to Chicago to visit his daughter June and wants to kill Madeleine and Gersbach. However, he is emotionally moved when he sees Gersbach bathing his daughter through the bathroom window. Although Herzog and June get involved in a car accident unfortunately when going out for a journey, he realizes the self-redemption after getting back to the Ludeyville house. He forgives Madeleine and Gersbach and eventually calms down and restores to himself. “I mean to share with other human being as far as possible and not destroy my remaining years in the same way” (Bellow 322). Herzog has no more messages for anyone, and the novel ends here.
The whole novel offers us the life experience of a Jew, who keeps on trying to find a footing during his wanderings in this tottering world. This thesis is aimed to analyze the Jewishness in Herzog, focusing on the cause and sublimation of Jewishness, and thereby explore the problems of Jewish people as well as the dilemma of the whole Western people.
Jewishness refers to the unique cultural characteristics and ethnic characteristics of the Jew, emphasizing the traditional Jewish cultural significance and value. The novel Herzog shows the Jewishness, especially the alienation and the marginalization of Herzog by means of presenting the experiences of the intellect living in the west. The core of Jewishness is to return Jewish traditional culture and to live their lives, which contributes to the Jewish quality of Herzog. It proves that it is fundamental to read Herzog if you want to understand Jewishness clearly.
2.1 The reflection of Jewishness in Herzog
Of all Bellow’s novels, Herzog possesses a strong air of Jewishness. The novel is mainly about the protagonist Herzog’s experiences and mental crisis; therefore, the Jewishness of the novel can be traced by analyzing Herzog chiefly in terms of his alienation and marginalization.