Study Guide

Herzog Friendship

By Saul Bellow

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One thing that nearly all of Herzog's friends have in common is that they always give Herzog tough love. There's really no one (except maybe Ramona and Sono) who sugarcoats bad news for Herzog.

His buddy Val steals his wife Madeleine and then lays down the law about how things are going to work. His brother Willie wants to commit him to an insane asylum. Even his lawyer Simkin tells him he's a fool for trying to get custody of his daughter June. But in spite of all that, Herzog is lucky to have the friends he does. It's hard to imagine him getting through Herzog alive without any friends to talk to.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Do you think Val is a straight up villain in this book, or do we get any insight into why he and Herzog were once such good friends? Where?
  2. Which friend gives Herzog the best advice in this book? Why?
  3. Do you think Herzog would be better off if his male friends took it easier on him instead of always giving him the harsh truth? Why or why not?
  4. Who would you say is Herzog's closest friend in this book, now that his friendship with Val is over? Why?

Chew on This

In Herzog, we learn that a true friend stabs you in the front instead of the back.

Herzog shows us that having friends who care about you is more important than being with a single person you love romantically.

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