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Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell

Studs Lonigan (1935)

by James T. Farrell

Other authors: John Chamberlain (Introduction)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
A definite re read. ( )
  KarlaC | Mar 26, 2018 |
This trio is best read as one long continuous novel. The story is a tale of life in an Irish middle class neighborhood on the south side of Chicago from the years 1916 through 1931... all centered on one young Irish punk- Studs Lonigan. If it had been a movie, James Cagney could have won an Oscar starring in the role.

"Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy" is the best and the worst of American Literature- listed as number 29 on the Modern Library’s best 100 novels.

The best: James Farrell writes of his own experiences (casting himself as one of Studs’ neighborhood buddies) so Studs Lonigan presents a very vivid, authentic view of cultural conditions during that era. Studs is a very tough bad boy- dropping out of school at the age of 15 to hang out on the Chicago streets. He would have liked to play football but boasts to his buddies, “I was out for freshman team, and the coach liked my stuff, but he finally canned me. Said it was discipline, because I didn’t show up every day. Hell, if I showed up every day, that meant I’d have to go to school. And they raise hell with you for not having homework and that stuff. You can’t fake Latin and algebra, and Jesus, you have to write compositions for English. None of that for me.”

In a simple matter-of-fact natural narrative, Farrell schools the reader on American life almost 100 years ago covering the turbulent years of WW I, civil disorder and race riots, Prohibition, the stock market crash of 1929, and the Great Depression. The working class population grappled with issues like their own personal battle between religion and atheism, socialism and capitalism. Read about Catholic schools with nuns as teachers, gangs that hang out on street corners and in pool halls, the prejudice against all other nationalities and religions, the rules and rituals of dating and the limited proficiency of the medical profession. It’s every bit as good as Dos Passos’ Trilogy "U.S.A." which ranks number 23 on the Modern Library list.

The worst: This series is the most politically incorrect piece of literature I’ve ever come across. It doesn’t get any worse than this! As editors felt the need to remove the dreadful N word from "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" in recent years, it amazes me that this work of literature has been left alone… possibly because it would require removing entire paragraphs from the "Studs Lonigan Trilogy".

Farrell certainly exposes the dark underbelly of middle class American society: murder, rape, petty theft, sexual transmitted diseases, intolerance and bigotry. It is difficult to read through the instances of brutal cruelty. And so much hate! Perhaps poverty breeds hate, and after the stock market crash of 1929, everyone was looking for someone to blame.

And it is disheartening to read of the unwarranted dangers:
Playing neighborhood football could be fatal because the game was played without protection, and the games often erupted into chaotic violence. It was not unusual to have a death occur during a game.

And Prohibition! All the neighborhood punks drank and the only alcohol available was moonshine. “The stuff was generally strong enough to corrode a cast iron gut. It was canned heat, rot gut, furniture varnish, rat-poison. When you drank it, you took your life in your hands, and even if it didn’t kill you, it might make you blind, or put your heart, liver, guts or kidneys on the fritz for life.” Yet they drank! By the time Studs reaches 30 years old, many of his childhood friends are already dead.

The three books of Studs Lonigan are "Young Lonigan", "The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan", and "Judgement Day". And indeed, what a judgement day it was! Reading this trilogy was a real eye-opener. Generally speaking, I like bad boys. But Studs had too few redeeming qualities. He was just too, too bad.

Taking the worst features of the three novels into consideration I concluded that the primitive attitudes, barbaric actions, and uncivilized behavior were all based on uneducated, raw ignorance. It makes for difficult reading, but what a treat to enter a time capsule that transports you to a very real whole other world in a very different time. It’s time travel at it’s best. ( )
2 vote LadyLo | Apr 28, 2015 |
This is a novel originally designated as a contemporary best seller that has become a classic. It's a fine novel and one of the best explorations of a not-very bright mind that exists in world literature. Modern Americans should read this book. The Modern Democrats will want to be able to help Studs, the Republicans will burn the book because it knows too much. But if you want to know something of who you are, this is the book for men. Originally written as three novels from 1929 to 1934. I read this cover to cover twice, and still dip into it. ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Dec 29, 2013 |
581. Studs Lonigan A Trilogy Containing Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, Judgment Day, by James T. Farrell (read 8 Aug 1959) As I remember, I was somewhat impressed by this book, though I suspect I was not admiratory of its central character. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 26, 2013 |
Rated: C
Farrell writes a quasi-Joycian style epic trilogy covering the life and thinking of a Irish-Catholic-wantabe living on the Southside of Chicago from a teenager during pre-WWI until his early death during the depression.

Best line: "Misery loves company, but what the hell good does company do?

I'm not a fan of the Joycian style. Ulysses and Portrait was a beating for me. I value the authors who can cut to the essense of the experience. ( )
  jmcdbooks | Jan 28, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James T. Farrellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chamberlain, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rheenen, Jan vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
East Side, West Side
All around the town,
The tots sing ring-a-rosie,
London Brigs is falling down.
Boys and girls together,
Me and Mamie O'Rourke,
We tripped the light fantastic
On the sidewalks of New York.
= Popular song
A literature that cannot be vulgarized is no literature at all and will perish.
- Frank Norris
Except in the case of some rarely gifted nature there never will be a good man who has not from his childhood been used to play amid things of beauty and make of them a joy and study.
- Plato, Republic, Jowett translation
The polgnancy of situations that evoke reflection lies in the fact that we really do not know the meaning of the tendencies that are pressing for action.
- John Dewey Human Nature and Conduct
To Marjorie and James Henle
Whose encouragement was so helpful
in completing this trilogy
First words
Studs Lonigan, on the verge of fifteen, and wearing his first suit of long trousers, stood in the bathroom with a Sweet Caproal pasted in his mug.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141186739, Paperback)

Collected here in one volume is James T. Farrell's renowned trilogy of the youth, early manhood, and death of Studs Lonigan: Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, and Judgment Day. In this relentlessly naturalistic portrait, Studs starts out his life full of vigor and ambition, qualities that are crushed by the Chicago youth's limited social and economic environment. Studs's swaggering and vicious comrades, his narrow family, and his educational and religious background lead him to a life of futile dissipation.

Ann Douglas provides an illuminating introductory essay to Farrell's masterpiece, one of the greatest novels of American literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"'Studs Lonigan', the story of an Irish-American youth growing to adulthood in Chicago, is considered by many to be one of the finest American novels from the first half of the twentieth century, and its author was widely regarded as the voice of urban Irish America. This edition includes fragments of Farrell's alternative ending to 'Judgement Day'." --Cover, p. 4.… (more)

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