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The Adventures of Augie March [Paperback]

Saul Bellow
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 26 2006 Penguin Classics
As soon as it first appeared in 1953, this gem by the great Saul Bellow was hailed as an American classic. Bold, expansive, and keenly humorous, The Adventures of Augie March blends street language with literary elegance to tell the story of a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Great Depression. A "born recruit," Augie makes himself available for hire by plungers, schemers, risk takers, and operators, compiling a record of choices that is—to say the least—eccentric.
 

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Review

The Adventures of Augie March is the Great American Novel. Search no further. (Martin Amis)

If there's a candidate for the Great American Novel, I think this is it. (Salman Rushdie)

About the Author

SAUL BELLOW's dazzling career as a novelist has been marked with numerous literary prizes, including the 1976 Nobel Prize, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. His other books include The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, Mr. Sammler's Planet, Seize The Day and The Victim. Saul Bellow died in 2005. Christopher Hitchens (b. 1949) is among the best known and most controversial figures in contemporary media. He is a prolific author, journalist, literary critic, and public intellectual who is often described as a "contrarian". Hitchens has been a columnist at Vanity Fair, The Nation, Slate and an occasional contributor to many other publications. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Luftmensch April 15 2003
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating April 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Recently Martin Amis claimed this was the great American novel, and it's as good a candidate as I've read. Bellow's long descriptions of city characters cascade through the mind, and create an instantly memorable style. Writers will be awed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating April 29 2004
Format:Paperback
Recently Martin Amis claimed this was the great American novel, and it's as good a candidate as I've read. Bellow's long descriptions of city characters cascade through the mind, and create an instantly memorable style. Writers will be awed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars He Tries! Jan. 18 2004
Format:Paperback
He is a good-hearted young man who tries to make a go of it, but, as Stella says, falls into the whims and desires of so many people he meets. He is taken along on a trip to smuggle people form Canada, goes along with his brother's whims and practically marries a woman chosen for him, goes to the shore with an employer, who wants to adopt him, runs off to Mexico with a strange woman and her eagle, ends up in Europe with yet another woman he doesn't say no to, and finds that marriage is less than he would have wanted. He doesn't seem to be able to take control of his own life. Undoubtedly there are many people like this, good hearted with a streak of innocence, but winding up with something less than success. And throughout the book one can see Bellow's disenchantment with rampant Capitalism, which is evident with the successful men in Augies experiences. I like Augie, and I sympathize with him. It's a good read . . get to know him, and learn about yourself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Born on the Fourth of July Dec 23 2003
Format:Paperback
An elegant, poetic walk through the life of a uniquely American character. Augie March goes humbly into Depression-era America and, in the search for the best inside himself, finds he's too often on the receiving-end of someone else's plan.
Augie's a capable but passive soul that is trumped by the formidable characters that make up his life, time and again. What appears to be an incurable restlessness and the 'born recruit' label is the courage to live and look inward, out of everyone's view. Finding himself doing everything from stealing books to going down in a sinking ship, Augie's life is one you'll be glad you sat in on.
Saul Bellow's writing is beyond my ability to describe...see for yourself. Very dense and not for speed-readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The American Novel Dec 13 2003
By pluto
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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and yet- Saul and Augie, can't we get on with it?
For what has been widely described as both a picaresque and coming-of-age novel, Augie March is neither a quick read nor an easy one. Read more
Published on July 18 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice bunch of short stories
I'm not going to write a long winded literary review. I think this book is best read as a series of short stories. I read a chapter a day and was able to get through it that way. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by T. zisis
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Luftmensch
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. Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by Rick Kowalski
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatness
This book is greatness. To Soul Wanderer below: Opinions vary.
Published on April 22 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, But Not a Page Turner
The Adventures of Auggie March is a difficult book to read, but when read slowly, it rewards your effort more than most books do. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2002 by -_Tim_-
5.0 out of 5 stars drop everything. stop and ardour this novel.
absolutely essential if you are a young man (in his twenties) like i am. this is an exploration of a boys quest for other peoples pragmatism which at first, in each case he... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2001 by clayton ayling
5.0 out of 5 stars Among Bellow's Best
As an author with my debut novel in its initial release, I am a great admirer of Saul Bellow. I think highly of all of his works, and I consider his ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
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