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The Adventures of Augie March Paperback – Deckle Edge, Oct 3 2006

4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (Oct. 3 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039570
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.6 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #117,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[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)

About the Author

Saul Bellow was praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose. Born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, he was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines.

His first two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day (1956); Henderson the Rain King (1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970); Humboldt's Gift (1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December (1982); More Die of Heartbreak (1987); Theft (1988); The Bellarosa Connection (1989);The Actual (1996); Ravelstein (2000); and, most recently, Collected Stories(2001). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up, a collection of memoirs and essays.

Bellow's many awards include the International Literary Prize for Herzog, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."

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First Sentence
I AM AN AMERICAN, Chicago born-Chicago, that somber city-and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is easily one of the finest novels that I have ever had a chance to read and proves one of the basic rules of good fiction--experience bucks education. Augie is the product of his own character, intent on understanding all that surrounds him as he makes his way through up and down the cultural, class, and political divides of the 1920's, 30's and 40's. The narrative is the education of a poor boy who could see as much value in the pronouncements of a crippled boss, exiled intelligentsia, and pool room hustlers as in the massive amount of poetry, fiction, and history that he assimilates into his worldview--one that values common decency as much as intelligence and cunning.

This is a book that I have now read three times and the view of American idealism from fifty years ago when it was published is simply awe inspiring. The times when the text breaks from its narrative molde and goes into an extended discussion of philosophicl ideas in Yiddish inflected vernacular with idiosyncratic grammar can make you cranky and can often be perplexing. This is completely secondary though, for a close reading of any of these passages brings to light just how sophisticated Augie is--some of the actions he takes make him seem only slightly smarter than an ape though.

If this had been the only book that Bellow had written he still would have earned the Nobel Prize in 1976. I can thnk of few books I have read where a character has drank so deeply and appreciatively of their own culture, upbringing, and experience as Augie March did. When Augie opens his mouth with the book's first sentence declaring "I am an American," he speaks with a level of sincerity, certainty and complexity that animates very few other characters in the novels of any nation.
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Format: Paperback
The perfect gift for any male who has learned to read. Although it is filled with daunting historical and anthropological references, one needn't be afraid to skip them. Bellow would be the first to understand. This is the greatest American novel and nothing else is even close. Melville, Hawthorne, James, Dreiser, Lewis, Wolfe, Hemmingway, Mailer, et. al., are amateurs by comparison. If you are going to read one book in your lifetime, THIS IS THE ONE. What is it about? It's about everything: the straight dope, no quarter given, no sacred cow spared, no good deed unpunished, no relief for either the virtuous or the wicked; humanity celebrated and exposed; the old, the young, connivers, sufferers, strivers, slackers, cons, cripples, pols, debutantes, grand dames, burghers, prize fighters, polymaths, revolutionists, feminists, whores, and tycoons; authority, philosopy, religion, politics, economics, civics, tribalism, philanthropy, sex, money, pride, vanity, hope, despair, all tickled relentlessly and effortlessly, toppled of their own weight. Bellow looks into the void and comes away chuckling, and so will you if you've got the right stuff. If you haven't got it, let Augie help you find it, but don't forget to read between the lines. Whatever you do, don't let academic idiots and caviling critics divert you from reading it.
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Format: Paperback
The Adventures of Auggie March is a difficult book to read, but when read slowly, it rewards your effort more than most books do.
Auggie is an odd character who meets a lot of other odd characters. During the course of his adventures, he learns a lot about the world, or says he does, but he's not good at applying what he learns to his own life, and he ends up in about as big a mess as he begins in. This is a little disappointing, but Auggie is not that sympathetic a character, so it's not as disappointing as it might be.
We learn a lot too. Saul Bellow studied sociology and anthropology, and he tells us a thing or two about the poor, and people who are down on their luck. At one point, Einhorn, Auggie's mentor, tells him: "Young fellows brought up in bad luck, like you, are naturals to keep the jails filled - the reformatories, all the institutions. What the state orders bread and beans long in advance for. It knows there's an element that can be depended on to come behind bars to eat it." Similarly informative passages, about business, love, the training of wild animals, etc., can be found by opening the book at random to almost any page. (In fairness, a good part of what's said is over-generalization or just not true, but still you're going to leave this book feeling pretty impressed by what the author knows.)
So why not five stars? For one thing, the writing doesn't exactly propel you from one page to the next. For another, the book is not very uplifting. You've heard of Man's Search for Meaning? This book comes very close to telling us that there isn't any. That's pretty hard to take.
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By A Customer on May 28 2001
Format: Hardcover
(In response to various clowns, bores and book clubbers): Refusing to connect with Augie March is refusing to acknowledge the shots of brillance that can and should be absorbed while traversing through a universally chipped paint existance. To stop yourself short from engaging in the lets-run-through-the-park momentum of Augie's adventure, the thinking person's adventure, our adventure, is to settle for a poster of Paris because the trip is too much the hassle. Fair enough, the "adventure" had by Augie is Not an A to B plot-o-rama, spoon fed lessons learned, ring tosses at color coated Truth. Looks out, he's coming of age...and...he does it! Phew. No, it's not that. It's not loads of misanthropic scandal and unhinged naked nubiles to hold interest. It does expect a little more from us. But simple pages does not an interesting book make. Simple ideas lead to a hobby of televsion watching. Simple perspectives lead to lonely walks, and race riots, and war. If, the senses are geared up for expansion, then stretch out further and get in deeper, dig around in the broken shards and look in the windows, take up a new rhythm, don't turn it off. This book is vitality. Augie is taking us with him gang, all we have to do is tag along, and for the love of god, when the opportunity is there, by all means, pack quickly and go.
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