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The Adventures of Augie March (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – October 1, 1996
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Novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1953. It is a picaresque story of a poor Jewish youth from Chicago, his progress, sometimes highly comic, through the world of the 20th century, and his attempts to make sense of it. The Adventures of Augie March won the National Book Award in 1954. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
"The Adventures of Augie March is the great American novel. Search no further." --Martin Amis, The Atlantic Monthly
Originally published in 1953, Saul Bellow's modern picaresque tale grandly illustrates twentieth-century man's restless pursuit of an elusive meaning. Augie March, a young man growing up in Chicago during the Great Depression, doesn't understand success on other people's terms. Fleeing to Mexico in search of something to fill his restless soul and soothe his hunger for adventure, Augie latches on to a wild succession of occupations until his journey brings him full circle. Yet beneath Augie's carefree nature lies a reflective person with a strong sense of responsibility to both himself and others, who in the end achieves a success of his own making. A modern-day Columbus, Augie March is a man searching not for land but for self and soul and, ultimately, for his place in the world.
"A book of extraordinary and massive power ... plainly one of the richest of twentieth-century American novels." --Alfred Kazin
"[Bellow's] body of work is more capacious of imagination and language than anyone else's.... If there's a candidate for the great American novel, I think this is it." --Salman Rushdie, The Sunday Times (London)
"The best postwar American novel, The Adventures of Augie March magnificently terminates and fulfills the line of Melville, Twain, and Whitman." --James Wood, The New Republic --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The dictionary definition of picaresque is "of or relating to an episodic style of fiction describing a rough, dishonest but appealing hero." Without a it
doubt this books encompasses this description. It paints a vivid picture of America notably but not limited to Chicago and Jewish live in the 1920s to 1940s.I especially like his writing style, often luminous but on occasion complicated to the point of being tortuous. Certtain passages paint a noteworthy word picture of various persons and events. Augie himself is a most engaging if flawed character. The rise and fall and rise and fall and once agin rise of his ever resourceful brother Simon is a superb character delineation worthy of the best such in literature.
Despite the above cited faults or perhaps, in part because of them, and the demands of the reader "The Adventures of Augie March" deserves to be in the pantheon of great English language novels.
I will say that the opening chapters made me work. This is not a quick read. But once I fell into Bellows's style and got accustomed to the philosophical monologues both from Augie and other characters , I found it hard to put down.
Note: This is a more "traditional" novel than the later ones I cited, which may appeal to those who don't like a lot of internal monologue and psychological/sociological/philosophical musings. (Personally, these "big ideas" are why I read Bellow.)