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The Adventures of Augie March (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 3, 2006
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Much of the novel is rendered in a convoluted narrative style-Augie's voice-that may be termed ornate. Or off-putting. Or ornately off-putting. Intended to echo, presumably, the Yiddish, German and Russian speech patterns Augie grows up hearing in Chicago during the twenties and thirties, this narrative device may in fact do that; but its syntactical wanderings soon begin to remind one, whatever their authenticity, of the criticism once leveled at Henry Luce's beloved Timestyle: "Backward ran the sentences until reeled the mind." Lexicon also figures in the curious mix, as words are combined in unexpected ways-sometimes cleverly (and with a kind of mini-revelation effect: you mean you can say that?) but just as often, apparently, randomly--just for the heck of it. Augie likes to talk (write), and what comes out, comes out:
"Many repeated pressures with the same effect as one strong blow, that was [Einhorn's] method, he said, and it was his special pride that he knew how to use the means contributed by the age to connive as ably as anyone else; when in a not so advanced time he'd have been mummy-handled in a hut or somebody might have had to help him be a beggar in front of a church, the next thing to a memento mori or, more awful, a reminder of what difficulties there were before you could even become dead."
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THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH is an almost endless literary parade of portraits, of weird and wonderful characters from many walks of life. It's like a pilgrimage back in time to another America, another age---perhaps more innocent in some respects, but not so smooth, not so well-rounded, a thrusting, struggling America where raw money power arbited so much. Even though the book could have been cut down a bit here and there because 617 pages is overlong, Bellow's novel will remain a classic of American and world fiction for two reasons. First, because human nature scarcely changes.Read more ›
Saul Bellow paints portraits of characters like Rembrandt. He has a brilliant technique for divulging not only the physical nuances of his characters but also gets deep into the essence of their souls.
He has an astute grasp of motivation and spins a complex tale with an ease that astounds. Even the most unusual twists of fate seem natural and authentic.
Augie is a man "in search of a worthwhile fate." After struggling at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a penniless youth in Chicago, he ultimately discovers that alignment with the "axial lines" of his existence is the secret to human fulfillment.
While his brother is engrossed in chasing after financial enrichment and social esteem, Augie learns through his own striving that such pursuit is "merely clownery hiding tragedy."
Augie is a man dogged in his pursuit of the American dream who has an epiphany that the riches that life has to offer lie in the secrets at the heart's core. If, as Sartre says, life is the search for meaning, then Augie is the inspired champion of this great human quest.
The true test of a great book is that you wish it would never end. Fortunately, Saul Bellow is as prolific as he is brilliant and there is much more to explore.
Bellow is worthy of the characterization of one of America's best living novelists: he is a treasure. His wisdom staggers the imagination.
Don't let this novel pass you by!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very dull story and dated, though I keep trying to get into Bellow.Published 2 months ago by aerubinbooks
Written in grammatically questionable style but communicates and engages better than anything.Published 2 months ago by Robert Daniel Richard
Saul Bellow's writing style is incredibly detailed and can feel a bit meandering at times, but this book is undoubtedly a masterpiece (although I felt that the first third was... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Catherine Choi
"Span of Thread" is masterful, sinking the needle of Giannini's genius deep into the beauty and complexity of all things.Published 5 months ago by leo seligsohn
My first experience of Saul Bellow. I can understand why he won the 1977 Nobel. Evey sentence worth savoring.Published 5 months ago by Mr. Karl V. Wally
Augie is a remarkable achievement. Bellow has brought the traditional English coming of age novel to 1920's Chicago, giving Augie a voice that is richly American in both its... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Charles Parham