Study Guide

Herzog Love

By Saul Bellow

Love

It might not seem like it, but Herzog is a book about love. Sure, sometimes it's a book about the absence of love, but love is still the major theme even when it's nowhere to be found.

Moses Herzog loves his children. His wives don't love him anymore and he shrinks from the thought of being with Ramona, a woman who seems to love him. On top of that, Val Gersbach tells Herzog he loves him like family, even while Val carries on an affair with Herzog's wife Madeleine. If you're thinking by this point that love sounds awfully complicated, that's because it is.

Questions About Love

  1. Do you believe Aunt Zelda when she tells Herzog that Madeleine used to love him? Why or why not?
  2. How could Val betray Herzog so badly and still love him like family? Is Val lying when he tells Herzog he loves him? Why or why not?
  3. Why does Herzog love the members of his family so much, even when he's at his most self-obsessed? Who makes him feel the most loved in this book?

Chew on This

In Herzog, we learn that you only know love is love because it hurts when it's gone.

Herzog shows us that love can take many different forms, and these forms can sometimes contradict one another.

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