28+ quotes from Herzog by Saul Bellow

Quotes from Herzog

Saul Bellow ·  371 pages

Rating: (16.4K votes)


“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“One thought-murder a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“If I'm out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed. And then? I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed. And what next? I get laid, I take a short holiday, but very soon after I fall upon those same thorns with gratification in pain, or suffering in joy - who knows what the mixture is! What good, what lasting good is there in me? Is there nothing else between birth and death but what I can get out of this perversity - only a favorable balance of disorderly emotions? No freedom? Only impulses? And what about all the good I have in my heart - does it mean anything? Is it simply a joke? A false hope that makes a man feel the illusion of worth? And so he goes on with his struggles. But this good is no phony. I know it isn't. I swear it.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“You have to fight for your life. That's the chief condition on which you hold it. ”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“For instance? Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organized power. Subject to tremendous controls. In a condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who have discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life for innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values? You—you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest. or else an ingrate, dilettante, idiot. There, Herzog, thought Herzog, since you ask for the instance, is the way it runs.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“No, really, Herr Nietzche, I have great admiration for you. Sympathy. You want to make us able to live with the void. Not lie ourselves into good-naturedness, trust, ordinary middling human considerations, but to question as has never been questioned before, relentlessly, with iron determination, into evil, through evil, past evil, accepting no abject comfort. The most absolute, the most piercing questions. Rejecting mankind as it is, that ordinary, practical, thieving, stinking, unilluminated, sodden rabble, not only the laboring rabble, but even worse the "educated" rabble with its books and concerts and lectures, its liberalism and its romantic theatrical "loves" and "passions"--it all deserves to die, it will die. Okay. Still, your extremists must survive. No survival, no Amor Fati. Your immoralists also eat meat. They ride the bus. They are only the most bus-sick travelers. Humankind lives mainly upon perverted ideas. Perverted, your ideas are no better than those the Christianity you condemn. Any philosopher who wants to keep his contact with mankind should pervert his own system in advance to see how it will really look a few decades after adoption. I send you greetings from this mere border of grassy temporal light, and wish you happiness, wherever you are. Yours, under the veil of Maya, M.E.H.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“Unless you're completely exploded, there's always something to be grateful for.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“In every community there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don't mean the criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably the most dangerous people seek the power. While in the parlors of indignation the right-thinking citizen brings his heart to a boil. (p. 51)”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“But what is the philosophy of this generation? Not God is dead, that point was passed long ago. Perhaps it should be stated Death is God. This generation thinks – and this is its thought of thoughts – that nothing faithful, vulnerable, fragile can be durable or have any true power. Death waits for these things as a cement floor waits for a dropping light bulb. The brittle shell of glass loses its tiny vacuum with a burst, and that is that. And this is how we teach metaphysics on each other. "You think history is the history of loving hearts? You fool! Look at these millions of dead. Can you pity them, feel for them? You can nothing! There were too many. We burned them to ashes, we buried them with bulldozers. History is the history of cruelty, not love as soft men think.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“It would not be practical for her to hate herself. Luckily, God sends a substitute, a husband. ”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“At moments I dislike having a face, a nose, lips, because he has them. ”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“I pretended not to understand. One of life's hardest jobs, to make a quick understanding slow. I think I succeeded, thought Herzog.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“Only self-hatred could lead him to ruin himself because his heart was "broken.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“Sentiment and brutality, never one without the other, like fossils and oil.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“I am willing without further exercise in pain to open my heart. And this needs no doctrine or theology of suffering. We love apocalypses too much, and crisis ethics and florid extremism with its thrilling language. Excuse me, no. I've had all the monstrosity I want.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“Theirs was not a marriage that could last. Madeleine had never loved him. She was telling him that. 'It's painful to have to say I never loved you. I never will love you, either,' she said. 'So there's no point in going on.'

Herzog said, 'I do love you, Madeleine.'

Step by step, Madeleine rose in distinction, in brilliance, in insight. Her color grew very rich, and her brows, and that Byzantine nose of hers, rose, moved; her blue eyes gained by the flush that kept deepening, rising from her chest and her throat. She was in an esctasy of consciousness. It occurred to Herzog that she had beaten him so badly, her pride was so fully satisfied, that there was an overflow of strength into her intelligence. He realized that he was witnessing one of the very greatest moments of her life.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“One way or another the no doubt mad idea entered my mind that my own actions had historic importance and this fantasy (?) made it appear that people who harmed me were interfering with an important experiment.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“To tell the truth I never had it so good. But I lacked the strength of character to bear such joy.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“Every treasure is guarded by dragons. That's how you can tell it's valuable.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“The only truly intersting side of the matter was the intimate design of the injury, the fact that it was so penetrating, custom-made exactly to your measure. It's fascinating that hatred should be so personal as to be almost loving. The knife and the wound aching for each other.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“So things go on as before with those who think a great deal and effect nothing, and those who think nothing evidently doing it all...”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“The wheels of the cars stormed underneath. Woods and pastures ran up and receded, the rails of sidings sheathed in rust, the dipping racing wires, and on the right the blue of the Sound, deeper, stronger than before. Then the enameled shells of the commuters' cars, and the heaped bodies of junk cars, the shapes of old New England mills, with narrow, austere windows; villages, convents; tugboats moving in the swelling fabric-like water; and then plantations of pine, the needles on the ground of a life-giving russet color. So, thought Herzog, acknowledging that his imagination of the universe was elementary, the novae bursting and the worlds coming into being, the invisible magnetic spokes by means of which bodies kept one another in orbit. Astronomers made it all sound as though the gases were shaken up inside a flask. Then after many billions of years, light-years, this childlike but far from innocent creature, a straw hat on his head, and a heart in his breast, part pure, part wicked, who would try to form his own shaky picture of this magnificent web.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“You have to have the power to employ pain, to repent, to be illuminated, you must have the opportunity and even the time.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“It is wrong to turn a man (a subject) into a thing (an object). By
means of spiritual dialogue, the I-It relationship becomes an I-Thou
relationship. God comes and goes in man's soul. And men come and go
in each other's souls. Sometimes they come and go in each other's
beds, too.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“For Christ's sake don't cry, you idiot! Live or die, but don't poison everything.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


“How we all love extreme cases and apocalypses, fires, drownings, stranglings, and the rest of it. The bigger our mild, basically ethical, safe middle classes grow the more radical excitement is in demand. Mild or moderate truthfulness or accuracy seems to have no pull at all.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Herzog


About the author

Saul Bellow
Born place: in Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Born date June 10, 1915
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