Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Moses Elkanah Herzog

Moses Elkanah Herzog, an unemployed American professor and intellectual whose major interest is the history of ideas. He is forty-seven years old, with a lined face and graying hair. Descended from Russian Jewish immigrants who were notably unsuccessful in the United States, he has lost his direction in life and spends his time writing letters—which he does not intend to mail—to friends, acquaintances, celebrities, and leaders, past and present. These letters combine his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects including science, philosophy, psychology, world affairs, and human relationships. An idealist, he feels an intense responsibility for civilization and progress, to the degree that he pays little heed to his surroundings or daily living. He finds himself involved in a custody fight for his daughter June against his former wife Madeleine. Somewhat unstable and afflicted with hypochondria, he is passionate, energetic, impulsive, and highly emotional.

Madeleine (Mady) Pontritter Herzog

Madeleine (Mady) Pontritter Herzog, Herzog’s domineering second wife, from whom he is divorced. Her blue eyes, long straight nose, and slender neck give her a classical appearance. Her dark hair is tied in a bun behind, with bangs in front. She exudes self-assurance and exhibits a sense of style. Her adroit handling of Herzog causes him to accept her decisions as if they were mutual.

Daisy Herzog

Daisy Herzog, Herzog’s first wife...

(The entire section is 621 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In this most subjective of Bellow's novels, all of the other characters exist in relation to Herzog. They are presented through his vision;...

(The entire section is 436 words.)