Saul Bellow’s Moses Herzog: A Literary Treatment of the Traveling Schlemiel (Part II)

Schlemiel Theory

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Since he is in constant motion, Saul Bellow’s schlemiel, Moses Herzog can’t hold on to things. He moves from place to place, from memory to memory, and from slow motion to speed. His narrative can turn on a dime.

Things move through him, too:

With me, money is not a medium. It passes through me – taxes, insurance, mortgage, child support, rent, legal fees. (31)

After mentioning these flows, he notes that his cab is stuck in traffic, in the “garment district,” the hub of business in NYC.

But in this sedentary state, he is overwhelmed by movement coming from outside of him, in: “electric machines” that “thundered in the lofts.” Their power makes the “whole street quiver.”   And the “street was plunged, drowned in the waves of thunder.”

His world, inside and out, is a series of flows or what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari call “lines of…

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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