The Power of Ambiguity: At the end of the novel, Moses claims in a letter to Dr. Edvig that he is more capable of dealing with ambiguities, and that the uncertainty of faith does not prevent it from being a "relief." God, death, and the future will always be unknown, but we can still be optimistic. Death, which pervades the novel, is the ultimate ambiguity, but Moses eventually learns to accept its existence. He thinks about the death of his father and his mother, faces the prospect of his own death, and comes to believe that life is about the beauty that comes in intervals. He chooses to savor such brief moments of happiness, instead of fearing death.Bellow beautifies death when he likens it to the soil. Moses' mother tries to prove that God created Adam out of the soil by rubbing her finger into her palm until dirt rises up. When his mother begins to die, he says that "she had begun to change into earth." Her story and death echoes the biblical phrase from Genesis, "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." This phrase can sound depressing, but it can also sound like a reassurance that we are all part of a cycle, and we all, great and small, return to dust eventually.
The Folio Society: Considered one of the greatest literary expressions of postwar America, this is a masterpiece by one of America’s finest novelists. Herzog traces five days in the expansive, troubled mind of a failing academic, cuckolded by his best friend and usurped as a father. Eventually retreating to his abandoned home in rural Massachusetts, Moses Herzog commits himself to solitude and sets out to understand the energies and influences – within him and without – that have shaped his life. In a series of letters, he addresses the women on whom much of his identity has depended – his mistresses, his dead mother and his ex-wife, the beautiful, cruel Madeleine. He writes to President Eisenhower and the philosophers Nietzsche and Hegel. He jots, even, a few lines to God. Herzog’s missives – never sent – are at once manic and inspired, poignant and darkly comical. ‘I go after reality with language,’ he says.
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