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Studs Lonigan Paperback – Nov 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (Nov. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186733
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #678,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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First Sentence
STUDS LONIGAN, on the verge of fifteen, and wearing his first suit of long trousers, stood in the bathroom with a Sweet Caporal pasted in his mug. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
I spent about a month and a half slogging my way through James T. Farrell's magnum opus, and the most pressing question I was left with after finishing was this: What in the world did Farrell find interesting enough about this protagonist to warrant an entire trilogy devoted to him?
Studs Lonigan is born into a fairly well-to-do Irish Catholic family in Chicago and spends the majority of his formative years trying to convince himself that he's the toughest kid on the block and will amount to something big before his time on Earth is through. He has a cockeyed impression of what it is that makes a man a man and so, scene after scene, we see him beating up people, sleeping around, contracting venereal diseases, getting so shnookered that he has to be dumped off at home by friends and generally making an ass of himself. In between scenes like these, we are exposed to the strict Catholic rhetoric pounded into the heads of the neighborhood youth and understand that Studs' behavior leaves him with extreme feelings of guilt, though that guilt doesn't cause him to act differently.
By the trilogy's end, Studs has decided that maybe he should straighten out and take life more seriously, but of course by then his self-destructiveness has taken its toll and Studs' turn around comes as too little too late.
Can someone tell me why the hell I should care about any of the above? Studs is a jerk; he's rarely anything else. He spends most of his time feeling sorry for himself and whining about all the bad breaks that befall him, when obviously he has dug his own hole and must suffer the consequences. I suppose that's Farrell's point; I think he was trying to make a comment about down-trodden groups having to help themselves before anyone else will help them.
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Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a plot driven story, then this may not satisfy. However, if you do not approach the story with the same kind of expectations you might bring to a work of popular fiction, Farrell maintains a high level of interest. I believe Studs Lonigan is one of the most developed characters in twentieth century American fiction. I am especially impressed that this depiction comes across so strongly without the aid of contrived catastrophes that land on the character from out of the blue. Although Studs is affected by his environment, it is still possible to trace the turns his life takes to sources within his own personality. These sources determine him as often as they are determined by him. I found him to be neither beneath nor above me. I can't say the book is exciting so much as extremely moving. Either way, I was turning the pages late into the night.Definately a book I will remember all my life.
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By "cmerrell" on April 26 2003
Format: Hardcover
Studs Lonigan was written in realistic style, simillar to that of Theodore Dreiseer. Yet where Dreisser wrote stylishly, Farrells's prose seems simplistic and crude and his dialogue filled with cliches. The Suds Lonigan story would fit in well with Dos Passo's USA trilogy.
From a social prespective is where Studs Lonigan gets its fame. Its indictment of working class Irish immigrants and the Catholic church must have been, at the time, very controversial. One can draw parralels of the life of Studs Lonigan and his ultimate fate to black youths in today's inner cities.
The first book starts with the graduation of Studs from middle school. During the summer after his graduation the two most important acheivements in Studs'life occur- (1) he defeats a local tough in a fist fight and (2) he kisses the girl he idolizes. For the rest of his life Studs, tries to replicate those two events.
In Book 2 Studs effectively seals his fate by boozing and carousing, to the detriment of both his psyche and his health. By the end of Book 2, Studs' future prospects have all but been eliminated and his reputation in his own mind as a tough guy is ruined when he is beaten up at a party by the very youth that Studs had beaten up as a youngster. His attempts at finding a good woman are crude and ineffective.
By Book 3 Studs is demoralized and physically ill. His tough guy image is further depleted when his younger brother beats Studs up. Also in Book 3, the Depression has all but ruined Stud's chance to reach any kind of financial security. Even though Studs finds a nice girl who he plans to wed, he is too far gone in both spirit and body to recover.
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Format: Paperback
Of course there is self-pity, but too much of this amounts to contempt. Studs Lonigan is a stark, murderous story of things going wrong and continuing to go wrong until life seems too hard and one is pushed to the limits of giving up. What made this book even more powerful for me was that I didn't much care for it after about 70 pages. The characters seemed cardboard, the dialogue is a frazzled series of cliches of punks trying to imitate tough guys in books and in movies and their own personalities don't seem to fit. And it goes on like this, for 800 more pages. But the change comes when you see these lapses for what they are: genuine lapses in the character's imaginations; an inability to be anything real, to have true thoughts or actual ideas other than trying to imitate people who never were (or, if they were, have become so mythologized as to be unrecognizable).
Studs is a shy, brooding boy with a head full of dreams and no conception of responsibility. He wanders around waiting for something to happen to him yet being unable to initiate anything. He passes through his life hoping things will improve. They don't, nothing improves, life continues to get harder and harder and things grow worse and worse. There are the prejudices, easy excuses for what went wrong that crop up when one refuses to blame themselves for their failures, but even in this Studs remains true, if not to himself, than to the expectations we have for him from the very start of the book.
A stark view of realism Studs Lonigan, I believe, outshines some of the more celebrated examples of this style such as An American Tragedy or Babbitt simply because nothing extraordinary ever happens to Studs.
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