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湖北省高等教育自学考试英语专业 毕业论文 题目:索尔 贝娄小说《赫索格》中的犹太性 准考证号: 10000000000 学生姓名: XXX 指导教师: 2012 年 3 月 Jewishness in Saul Bellows Herzog Student:
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毕业论文
 
题目:索尔贝娄小说《赫索格》中的犹太性
 
 
准考证号:10000000000
学生姓名: XXX
指导教师:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
20123
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jewishness in Saul Bellow’s Herzog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Student: XXX
Tutor:
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 2012

 
 
摘    要
 
索尔·贝娄是20世纪著名的犹太裔作家,他在二战后美国文坛上的地位可以与海明威、福克纳相媲美。从发表第一部短篇小说开始,索尔·贝娄一共出版了11部长篇小说及其他几部短篇小说、散文集和剧本等。因对当代文化富于人性的理解和精妙的分析,索尔·贝娄摘取了1976年的诺贝尔文学奖桂冠。在索尔·贝娄的创作硕果中,《赫索格》这一长篇力作奠定了他在美国文坛上的地位。
虽然索尔·贝娄一直否认自己犹太作家的身份,但是他的作品中却自觉或者不自觉地透露出丰富的犹太性。并且正是由于这些犹太因素,使他的作品内涵丰富,表现形式独特。因此,要理解索尔·贝娄的作品,首先需要解读他作品中的犹太性。
本文旨对《赫索格》中的犹太性进行细读和文本剖析,以更好地理解作品中深刻的内涵及意义。
 
关键词: 《赫索格》;流浪;受难;困惑;犹太性
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Abstract
 
Saul Bellow is a famous Jewish-American writer of the twentieth century; his stature in the postwar American literature can only be compared to that of Hemingway or Faulkner earlier in this century. Since his first short story was published, he had produced a substantial body of fiction including eleven novels, a great number of short stories, some plays and critical essays. He was awarded the Noble Prize for his human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture in 1976. Among Bellow’s works, Herzog can be recognized as his representative masterpiece. Through Herzog, Saul Bellow achieved great success and confirmed his status in the American literary arena.
Though Saul Bellow rejected his identity as a Jewish-American writer, his works have abundant Jewish elements. It is these factors that give his works profound connotations and unique style. Therefore, to appreciate Bellow’s works, we should first understand these Jewish factors in them.
This thesis aims to analyze the Jewish factors in Herzog through textual analysis in order to uncover the rich connotations in the novel.   
 
Key words: Herzog;vagrancy;suffering;confusion;Jewishness 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Contents
Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………… 3
 
I. Jewishness in Saul Bellow’s Mind ……………………………………..….…5
     1.1 Jewish upbringing of Saul Bellow…………………………………………………5
     1.2 Jewish consciousness of Saul Bellow ……………………………………………5
II. Jewishness in Herzog………………………………………….……7
2.1 Herzog as Moses leading his people to the Promised Land………….………7
2.2 Vagrancy………………………………………………………………………….…8
2.3 Suffering………………………………………………………………………………9
2.4 Confusion……………………………………………………………………………10
Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………….…11
Works Cited ………………………………………………………………………………12
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Introduction
 
As a great novelist, Saul Bellow and his works interest lots of critics and reviewers. The famous critic John Jacob Clayton, who is engaged in the study of Saul Bellow, points out “Saul Bellow’s defense of man----source of creation has been made in the cultural confluence of two main streams: the Jewish experience and the American experience”(Clayton 30). At present, most of the critics usually consider that Bellow’s American experience is much more important than his Jewish experience. However, the Jewish experience is sometimes the key to the understanding of Bellow’s works.
Jewish-American writers get much inspiration from their Jewish experience and we can be deeply impressed by the Jewish feeling in their fictions. It’s the same with Saul Bellow: without his Jewish consciousness, Saul Bellow cannot create so many marvelous works and depict this world so delicately.
As mentioned above, to explore Bellow’s works, the key is to explore the Jewishness in his works. However, what’s the connotation of Jewishness and how is it reflected in literary works?
    According to the research results of many critics, Jewishness is the “Jewish cultural complex rooted in the hearts of Jews”(Zou 38). when it comes to literary works, Jewishness can be seen in characters, themes, and stories. Jewishness is the deduction of Jewish culture in American Jewish literature. Many Jewish writers have strong racial awareness in the bottom of their hearts and they make use of various kinds of Jewish elements and Jewish resources consciously or unconsciously in their literary works. So their works are marked with distinct features of Jewishness. At the same time, certain racial history, cultural system and social environment forces Jewish writers to melt and sublimate Jewishness to a universal level in literature.   
Jewishness is connected closely with the history, religion, tradition, thought and social status of Jews. Essentially, Jewishness is the reflection of these Jewish cultural factors in literature. Vagrancy, suffering, and confusion are everlasting Jewish themes in the works of Jewish writers. 
This thesis will examine the Jewishness in Herzog from two aspects: the author’s Jewish consciousness and thematic concerns of Herzog. In the first part, a research on Saul Bellow’s life will be given to find out the origin of his Jewish consciousness and how this consciousness influences his creation. In the second part, this thesis, by way of a detailed textual analysis, tries to discover the Jewishness in Herzog from four aspects: the protagonist’s experience, vagrancy, suffering and confusion. Eventually, a conclusion is reached that Saul Bellow is a writer who has a strong consciousness of being Jewish, which is manifested in Jewish themes such as vagrancy, suffering and confusion. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I. Jewishness in Saul Bellow’s Mind
1.1 Jewish upbringing of Saul Bellow
Born on June 10, 1915 in Quebec, Saul Bellow was the fourth child of his parents, who had immigrated to the Newland, and resided in Canada before resettling in the United States. The Bellows lived in a Jewish ghetto in which Bellow came into contact with orthodox Jewish culture. The traditional religion and culture of Jewish nation in this ghetto must leave a profound influence on the works produced late in his life. In Herzog, the protagonist’s childhood in Napoleon Street is certainly based on Bellow’s own experience.
Bellow’s parents paid much attention to the children’s education though they lived hard. Bellow attended a local Jewish school to learn Hebrew, and he once said, his mother’s ambition for him was to become a Talmudic scholar. She even expected that Bellow could grow up to be a rabbi.
In 1924, they moved to Chicago, where they were still accustomed to the traditional life styles of the Jews. The Jewish upbringing and the Jewish environment in his childhood contributed a lot to Bellow’s Jewish thought and left a strong influence on his unique styles and thoughts.
After the publication of Herzog, Bellow answered an interviewer’s query about his childhood:“I was born into a medieval ghetto in French Canada. My childhood was in ancient times which were true of all orthodox Jews. Every child was immersed in the Old Testament as soon as he could understand anything. So you began life by knowing Genesis in Hebrew by heart at the age of four. You never got to distinguish between that and the other world. Later on there were translations”(Steers 36). Having spent his childhood in such a Jewish ghetto, Saul Bellow systematically received a Jewish education and planted the seed of Jewish culture in the bottom of his heart.
Herzog, as the representative work of Bellow, naturally reflected abundant Jewishness that had become part of himself.
 
1.2 Jewish consciousness of Saul Bellow
Like other Jewish-American writers, in face of the cultural conflicts between national tradition and modern American civilization, Saul Bellow suffers from the great pressures and could not conceal his anxiety about the identification of his double identity. On one hand, he longs for sticking to the peculiarity and particularity of his nation, i.e. the traditional roots of Jewish nation. However, where is the root? The Jews wander about in the world for thousands of years, and they are destined to be wandering. On the other hand, his anxiety comes from the reality of the American society. That is, how to find his own place in the great family of the United States. As a Jewish immigrant, Saul Bellow could not treat the social situation as unimportant, thinking about the predicaments with which the Jewish-Americans are confronted. Along with his protagonists, Saul Bellow seeks to exploit the existential values and the true meanings of life in the process of wandering around the whole world.
In an interview, Saul Bellow once said: “obviously, as the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, when I learned literature in university, I’m afraid I can not feel the geniality of the Anglo-Saxon traditions and English words” (qtd. in Yang 122). In his university life, Bellow was still influenced by his identity as a Jew.
When Herzog published, Bellow was already in his middle age and he had assimilated himself in the mainstream of American culture, willing to be considered as a pure American. Bellow always rejected his identity as a “Jewish-American” writer, for people would put too much emphasis on the Jewishness of his work than on the universal value. However, for Saul Bellow, a Jewish immigrant, he can not eliminate the features endowed by that old race.
Most of the protagonists in Saul Bellow’s novels are Jews, whose anxiety is chiefly revealed on several levels, such as the exploration of man’s predicament, the seeking of man’s value and the meaning of life, and the inquiry about the fate of human beings. As a matter of fact, the unfortunate experience of the Jewish nation in history acts as the symbol of the common destiny of the whole human society.
In Herzog, Saul Bellow’s Jewish consciousness pervades everywhere; the following chapter will make a detailed analysis of this.
 
 
II. Jewishness in Herzog
2.1 Herzog as Moses leading his people to the Promised Land
The full name of the protagonist in Herzog is Moses Elkanah Herzog, which makes us bring Moses in the Bible to mind. The fact that Saul Bellow named the protagonist Moses clearly indicates the connection between this modern Moses and Moses in the Bible. What’s more, many details in Herzog skillfully reflected the relationship between the two Moses, in both explicit and implicit ways.
When Herzog finally went back to Ludeyville, he shouted: “But enough of that----here I am. Hineni! ” (Bellow 310) “Hineni” is a Hebrew word, which means “I am here.” In the Bible, the people will utter “here I am. Hineni!” when summoned by God.
In the Bible, besides Moses, all the people summoned by the God will respond with“Hineni.” In Herzog, at the end of the journey, Moses E. Herzog burst out this word after a long period of torments imposed on him both spiritually and physically, which reveals Herzog eventually returned to God.
Moses was regarded as the national hero in the Jewish history, and he also actually initiated and established Judaism. In Exodus, in order to flee Pharaoh’s persecution, after suffering many years’ slavery in Egypt, Moses led his people trudging over a long period of years in the desert, marching toward their Promised Land----Canaan. He played a decisive role in the history of Israel. At this critical moment of national disaster, Moses took on the heavy responsibility of saving the whole Jewish nation. Moreover, in the course of moving out of Egypt, Israel gradually shook off the slavery and marched toward self-awakening.
Here, Bellow connects the two Moses, intending his protagonist Moses Herzog to be that Moses leading his people out of the wilderness to the Promised Land. However, thousands of years later, what Moses Herzog is confronted with is not to escape from the cruel persecution of other nations, to pursue their national homeland and conclude their miserable history of living under another’s roof.
In Herzog, what this Moses, the modern hero, intends to do is to make his every effort to ameliorate the general human condition, to search for solutions to modern man’s dilemma. He demonstrates sensitivity to the perplexities and confusions of our human beings. Moses in the Bible sticks to his pursuit of their homeland while the modern Moses takes the pursuit of the true meaning of life as his responsibility. Obviously, Saul Bellow hopes to borrow The Savior’s name to express the significance of Moses Herzog’s ambition for seeking some solutions to the contemporary world.
 
2.2 Vagrancy
Since the 6th century BC, the Jews wandered around the world for about 2000 years, with no country and no home. Vagrancy as a prototype of the Jews exists throughout the entire experience of the Jews, and it also acts as a constant inspiration for the contemporary Jewish-American writers who write about the reality of the Jews. Considering this experience of vagrancy, they not only depicted the difficult life of the Jews but also praised their persistence in pursing a spiritual sustenance.
The vagrancy in Herzog is mainly reflected through the spiritual experience of the protagonist, which is characteristic of modern novels----shift from focusing on the character’s outward behavior to inward movements.
Nevertheless, the vagrancy of the body and the wandering of the spirit are interwoven in Herzog. That is, the wandering of the spirit is the hidden clue of the story and the vagrancy of the body is the framework of the novel. Saul Bellow combined these two kinds of technique to give us a better understanding of the fate of modern men.
In the story, Herzog was abandoned by his second wife Madeleine. In five days, he wandered around Ludeyville, New York, Woods Hole and Chicago, without stop. At the same time, his spirit is in a sate of vagrancy: he kept writing to the outside world, constantly arguing with them. Therefore, the vagrancy of Herzog is displayed from two aspects: on one hand, the geographical conversion and the extension of time show the vagrancy of the reality. On the other hand, the anxiety and upset of Herzog’s inner world formed a psychological journey of vagrancy. At last, physical vagrancy and psychological vagrancy strengthen and complement each other.
This certainly has bearing on the historical circumstances of the Jewish nation.
In reality, the history of the Jew is that of vagrancy. The image of vagrancy in Herzog appears to be a reflection of the Jewish history.
 
2.3 Suffering
Morris Dickstein wrote in Gates of Eden: “suffering is an authentic Jewish theme and it is extracted from the most miserable history of Jews” (49). In the mind of Jews, they are the people “chosen by God” and the grace of God would first bestow on Jews and than on other races. But in the history of Jews, they are persecuted and despised as a minority race, wandering about all over the world for thousands of years. They were driven out of their home, persecuted consecutively by different forces.
Roman rulers had expelled and massacred Jews; the Czar of Russia carried out brutal persecution to them and the suffering of the Jews was pushed to the pinnacle when millions of Jews were sent to the gas chambers by Hitler in World War II. The post-war Jewish-American writers are witnesses of the disaster of Jews. Their miserable history concretes their racial awareness and urges them to connect Jewishness with their works.
Herzog, from every aspect, takes on the suffering fate of the protagonist who is a Jew, living a miserable life both spiritually and physically.
No doubt Herzog bears the physical suffering, i.e. the suffering in his personal ordinary life, created by the ruthless reality of life. Just like what had been presented in Chapter One, Herzog got heartbreak because of his failure in his second marriage. “He continued with the windows because he couldn’t allow himself to feel crippled. He dreaded the depths of feeling he would eventually have to face, when he could no longer call upon his eccentricities for relief” (Bellow 10). Our protagonist suffered a tremendous grief after he was abandoned by Madeleine.
Psychologically, Herzog suffered a lot more than he suffered physically. He constantly questioned himself and tried to find himself a footing. The whole story is actually an experience of Herzog’s psychological suffering. He scribbled letters to the outside world to argue with various kinds of people, in order to make himself a little ease. “There is someone inside me. I am in his grip. When I speak of him I feel him in my head, pounding for order. He will ruin me” (Bellow 11).
    Herzog called himself a “suffering joker” and he knew his scribbling is “ridiculous.” But he just couldn’t control his restless inquiry about the meaning of human life. At last, Herzog stopped his constantly questioning, but it is just a compromise with the reality.
 
2.4 Confusion
As we all know, the Jewish nation was forced to move out of their homeland and scattered all over the world in history. For thousands of years, the Jews wander about in different countries and alien cultures.
The Diaspora in the world brings Jewish culture the dispersedly existent structure which leads to a special type of cultural contact between Jewish culture and the culture of their residence----cultural conflict and cultural confusion. Dispersing in different regions of the world, the Jewish nation subordinates to the mainstream culture of their residence. The dispersedly existent structure leads to the cultural confusion. In a word, cultural confusion is the symbiosis of the dispersedly existent structure of Jewish culture.
Confronted with the disorder of life and career, Herzog feels perplexed and grieved. His confusion produces the mental and spiritual paralysis that brings him to the brink of collapse. “If I’m out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog”(Bellow 1).At the very beginning of the novel, Bellow presents to us the spiritual condition of the protagonist. “He wrote, for instance, Death-die-live again-die again-live” (Bellow 3). Herzog’s disordered mind makes himself a madman.
Herzog argued with various kinds of people in philosophy, chemistry, mathematics, economics, politics, etc. The process of constant argumentation is essentially the process in which Herzog’s confusion about his life and this world is explained. In his letter to Pulver, Herzog wrote “Good is easily done by machines of production and transportation. Can virtue compete?”(Bellow 165) Here, Herzog expressed his confusion about the lack of morality in this chaotic mechanized world. Such confusion is inevitable when the traditional Jewish culture existed in America at that time, when the pursuing of material overwhelmed people’s mind.
 
 
Conclusion
 
Growing up in a comparatively steady Jewish circumstance, Saul Bellow inherited too much from the old Jewish nation. Like other Jewish-American writers, he struggled to find a footing in American society and got confused about his identity. In his works, Saul Bellow instilled his Jewish experience and Jewish thoughts in the story, which give his works abundant features of Jewishness.
Saul Bellow mingled large amounts of Jewish elements within the story of Herzog, as can be seen in the analysis above: the protagonist’s name as identical with The Savior’s name of the Jews, the physical and psychological vagrancy, the suffering of Herzog and the confusion pervading in the whole story. Vagrancy, suffering and confusion are distinct features of the old Jewish nation.
Saul Bellow always tries to sublimate the Jewishness in his works to a universal level and upgrade the miserable fate of the Jewish nation to the universal predicament of our whole human beings. The Jewish elements in Saul Bellow’s fictional world, either in their strict Jewish appearances or universalized images, are specific literary   expression of Saul Bellow’s deep attachment to the Jewish tradition, incarnating Bellow’s assimilation and distillation of his Jewish background. Therefore, a better understanding of the Jewish national consciousness of Bellow’s, his ethnic identity, is the key to a better understanding the novel. And a comprehensive analysis of the Jewishness concealed in Herzog should be helpful for us to appreciate the connotative meaning of the novel, which is just the purpose of this thesis.
Like Herzog, Saul Bellow’s other works also contained abundant Jewish elements. This thesis may provide a method for all those who are interested in Bellow in discovering the Jewishness that characterizes Bellow’s other works and hence contributes in some way to the study of Saul Bellow as a Jewish writer.
 
 
Works Cited
Bellow, Saul. Herzog. New York :Viking Press, 1964.
Clayton, John Jacob. Saul Bellow: In Defense of Man, 2nd edition, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979.
Cronin, Gloria L. and L. H. Goldman. Saul Bellow in the 1980s: A Collection of  Critical Essays, East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 1989.
Hyland, Peter. Saul Bellow. Macmillan, 1992.
Liptizin, Sol. The Jew in American Literature. New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1966.
刘洪一:《犹太文化要义》。北京:商务印书馆,2004年版。
傅少武:“论索尔·贝娄小说的流浪汉形象”。《徐州师范大学学报》(哲学社会科学版),1997年第二期。
顾晓鸣:《犹太—充满“悖论”的文化》。浙江人民出版社,1990年版
莫里斯·迪克斯坦(Morris Dickstein):《伊甸园之门》。上海外语教育出版社,1985年版。
杨向荣:“索尔·贝娄访谈录”。《青年文学》,2007年第五期。
邹智勇:“当代美国犹太文学中的异化主题及其世界化品性”。《武汉大学学报》(人文社会科学版),2000年第四期。
______:“论当代美国犹太文学的犹太性及其形而上性”。 《外国文学研究》,2001年第四期。
 
 
 
 
 
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