Herzog Summary

The book, “Herzog” is a very dramatic and self-reflecting one. It explains a lot about how the protagonist, Mr. Moses Herzog is deeply disturbed by the failing of both of his marriages. It also portrays his habit of writing letters to people known and unknown. The love of a single father for his child gets a very clear perspective in the story. Later, it also shows how sanity can be gained only when one finds peace; be it in someone’s love or reconciliation.

The story begins with the description of the protagonist, Moses Herzog. He is a divorced professor and a father of two. He stays in his country home due to an existential crisis and writes letters. His second wife, Madeleine, had left him for his best friend, Gersbach. He is an expert in romanticism and the author of the book Romanticism and Christianity. Moses then describes in detail how he had inherited the twenty-thousand-dollar house and his moving to the countryside for the purpose of finishing the second volume of his book. Meanwhile, Moses helps Gersbach find a radio job. Dr. Edvig, their psychiatrist, convinces Madeleine to get divorced, while their lawyer, Sandor Himmelstein offers him a place to stay after the divorce. He then describes his siblings consisting of two brothers and one sister, Will, Shura and Helen respectively. Soon after the divorce he loans money for a trip and flees away from Ramona, his lover.

Moses describes his trip and begins with his memory of reaching Grand Central Station to get to Martha’s Vineyard. He is seen writing letters constantly to Tennie, his ex-mother-in-law, in the running cab. Soon, he reaches the cab and starts reminiscing over memories about his childhood. He soon snaps back and starts writing a letter to Aunt Zelda who is apparently Madeleine’s Aunt. He remembers his talks with Aunt Zelda. Then he starts writing a letter to his friend Lucas Asphalter, a person who is heavily aggrieved at the loss of his pet companion, Rocco. Lucas was the person who disclosed of Madeleine and Gersbach’s affair. He continues to write letters to his relatives, celebrities and political people. He writes to Dr. Bhave and his thoughts about joining the movement. He then writes a letter full of hate to Dr. Edvig until his daughter’s ability to love hits him. He then remembers his past life.

In the next chapter, Moses is seen writing even more letters to a diverse range of people while riding the ferry to Martha’s. He first writes to the governor and then to Ramona with an apologetic tone. Then he resorts to writing to political figures like Nehru and Martin Luther King again. Then he writes a letter to Shapiro, a scholar whose visit he remembers. He remembers how Madeleine had talks with him and how she had started turning scholarly. He criticizes his views and then starts writing to Shura. Then, he starts writing to his old lawyer Sandor Himmelstein. He starts remembering his stay at his place. Sandor considered him unstable and this was the reason why he would not get custody of his children. He reaches Libbie’s while she waves at him as soon as she sees him arrive. At the ferry, he is seen enjoying nature. Out of guilt, he returns home immediately.

Moses wakes up the next morning at his own place and starts writing to Monsignor Hilton, the priest who had converted Madeleine. Soon, he remembers things about his first marriage. Then he remembers how he wanted to marry Madeleine and all his efforts to meet her parents, Tennie and Fritz. They both agree that Madeleine would be happy with him and he had to deal with all the frustrations that came from her disturbing childhood. Soon, Moses thinks about Madeleine’s religious changes and the series of changes in their marriage. Then, he remembers Daisy, a cool and conservative Jewish lady and how he had ruined the marriage. Then he comes to think about Nachman, an old friend, who he had loaned money to find his love in Paris. Soon, he starts remembering things about his past, his father’s failure, his aunt Zipporah’s success and the people around the block. Then he remembers singing Ravitch.

Then Moses wakes up soon from his writing reverie by a call from Ramona who wants him to visit her house. Then she starts talking about how Moses should develop his self-confidence. While visiting Ramona, he remembers his love for humanity and all the beautiful things of the world. Ramona welcomes his visit with a rich meal and Egyptian music. At the dinner table, he starts talking about all the letters to Madeleine, Gersbach and others. Then, Ramona tries to seduce him to have sex. While having sex, he starts thinking about Ramona’s ex-boyfriend. He starts thinking about his job, his gifts to win Ramona back. Then he remembers George’s suicide attempts made twice. Before leaving he writes a letter to Ramona on American business. Then, he resorts to writing about the Cold War to Eisenhower. On arriving at Ramona’s, he is seen writing about the process of self-awareness and to a bank robber and Spinoza.

Ramona is taken to breakfast by Moses the next morning and then to the flower shop. They kiss and he feels happy, something that vanishes as soon as he drops her. He then decides to visit his son and talk to Simkin about Gersbach’s abusive behavior. Simkin talks about the irony of Gersbach’s guardianship during the meeting. Later on, he visits him after office. Then he starts writing about Jimmy Hoffa’s single-mindedness. Then he remembers how Madeleine’s eyes gleamed when Gersbach was happy. He then remembers about his mother’s stories about mankind and its advent regarding Adam. She even shows him the circle of dirt after touching his hands. Then he remembers Daisy’s mother, once a strong woman. Moses visits Simkin the next morning and goes to the court. The cab driver remembers him kissing Ramona and admires his taste in women. He witnesses cases and forgets about Simkin. He feels disgusted with the cases.

Later, Moses feels disturbed by the last case regarding a mother murdering her own child. This reminds him of June and thus he decides to visit Madeleine and Gersbach. On the way, he tends to visit his father’s house where only his stepmom now lives. He starts reminiscing about his childhood again. He then starts looking at his family pictures. He remembers how he had faced his father when he wanted a small amount of money loaned and then his father’s act of pointing a gun at him. Next, he takes his father’s gun and wraps it with Russian rubles to kill Madeleine and Gersbach. Meanwhile, Taube offers him a cup of wine, which he drinks and drives to Harper Avenue to visit Madeleine. He reaches there to find Gersbach taking care of June. He realizes his fault. Next, he visits Phoebe to seek help only to be turned down. Moses spends time with Lucas.

Moses soon gets to meet his daughter June at Lucas’s arrangement. He spends a good time with June where he tells her about Gersbach being very caring and boring at telling stories at the same time. Then he tells her a story. Next, they go out to visit an aquarium and during the visit, he remembers Jonah Herzog’s funeral. Soon, they have a car accident. After this, they are not ticketed but are taken to the police station for possessing an unlicensed gun. He soon realizes that he had put June’s life in trouble in the process of saving her. He comes to think of how emotional his decision was. Moses reasons to the police officers about why he had taken the gun. Then the police contact Madeleine to pick up June. He is arrested and Will bails him. He writes while in jail and Will promises to visit him after talking about the house.

Then Moses returns home to his own house at Ludeyville and soon he tends to find happiness in his old house despite the mess it has become. He finds happiness in Madeleine’s things and the way they decorated the shower railing. Then, he sits down to start writing letters again but this time, he plans on sending them. He writes one apology letter to Ramona, and one invitation letter to Marco to join him at his country house. Next, he asks his grieving friend Lucas to post the letters to keep his address a secret. He then goes back to writing letters he will never send. He writes to Murmelstein, Madeleine and Gersbach. Soon, his brother Will arrives to live up to his words. Next, they talk about the house. He agrees to visit the hospital but doesn’t want to go. He wants to visit the Tuttles. Ramona comes to Ludeyville and they have a dinner together. Soon, he finds no reason to write any more letters with Ramona by his side.