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The Adventures of Augie March Paperback – Oct 3 2006

4.0 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: #125,559 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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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 or kindness.
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 novels.
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Format: Paperback
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 beleives to be beyond him by way of the affectations of absolute understanding imposed on his attentive personnality by them. these people define their own reality by their own authority whereas augie has not the confidence to do this. the turning point in the novel is when he realises that these people have no more authority than he does. this he realises from his meeting this girl "thea" who overshoots all of the boundaries that have been set by his previous opressive but intently beneficial influences. bellow finally concludes by introducing a new character that is a figure for endurance (as is the millionaire cripple einhorn) and suggesting that although augie is with an inapropriate whoman, and that he may never find it, that he will never give up on the idea that he will find love.
it is a difficult book with some obscure (modernist) proustian strange stuff that is incongruous with the down to earth pragmatism of the theme. but it is beutiffully written. and i found it a hard slog but am so glad that i endured it - things in life are often difficult. this is my desert island book. its greatness didnt hit me at first, but it did, and now i am convinced that if i hadnt read it i would lack ninety nine percent of the success that i have had since.
my language fails me. just read it.
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Format: Hardcover
After the intellectual Left killed off God, they found themselves staring into the abyss; absent God what is the meaning of life? There have been many, mostly feeble, attempts to answer this question. The most disastrous have, of course, been Darwinism--we exist to propagate the species, Hegelianism/Marxism--there are World Historical forces in control and Existentialism--existence is it's own point. Saul Bellow seems to fall into a loose grouping with the Existentialists and The Adventures of Augie March is essentially an existentialist tract. In a return to the style of the picaresque novels (i.e., Tom Jones), Augie March bobs along from Chicago to Mexico to Europe to an open boat in the Atlantic, experiencing life and meeting a variety of characters--observing without judging, experiencing without changing, seeking without finding. Critics claim that this is a life affirming book; but life does not need to be affirmed, it simply is. One recalls Dr. Johnson's response to the argument that the material world does not exist: he kicked a rock and said, "I refute it thus!" The task before us as human beings is to find or bring meaning to life. Great literature illuminates the human condition and reveals truths which help us discern this meaning. Bellow fails in this basic task and does so at mindnumbing length.
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Format: Paperback
As a sum of landscapes, spaces and altitudes, America as a wilderness has already been explored. In fact, while early American history reveled in the most basic of freedoms that can be found in various lands untrod, the urge that drives us towards (and often away from) freedom remains--sometimes as a nuisance, almost always as a kind of tug away from the quotidian and run-of-the-mill. It's a distinctly American drive that leads us to defy laws and morays, explore the unexplored permutations of our innermost selves, and to transcend the expectations of family, friends and, of course, ourselves. Saul Bellow's "The Adventures of Augie March," ostensibly a celebration of the life in the 1930s of a sensitive drifter and searcher, is also a transfiguration of the American novel: The story of a Huckleberry Finn of the urban milleux.
Predating Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" by nearly a decade, "The Adventures of Augie March" tells the story of a young man from an impoverished Chicago neighborhood who rejects conventional expectations that he make the best of all good situations that, in other lives, would have led to riches and satisfaction. While his brother Simon goes out to find the quickest way to taste the cream of the business world, only to discover that it isn't at all the way to the happiness he'd imagined, Augie--a man who never quite makes the break from childhood into manhood but instead continues on the same unbroken line of judging the world through what refractions the lenses of his emotions augur--continually renews himself through a series of piqaresque adventures as he searches for "the axial lines" of his life.
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