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Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
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Look Homeward, Angel (1929)

by Thomas Wolfe

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)

I spent a pleasant couple of weeks with this 500 page classic of American literature. I really enjoyed it, but then again I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories. This one is perhaps a bit loftier than most, and goes beyond just the coming-of-age theme, but at the heart of it all, that's what it is. It is also the story of a family, an odd and morbid Southern family full of quirky members, including my favorite, Ben Gant. I quickly became enamored with his constant scowling and stock response of "Oh, for God's sake. Listen to this, won't you?" as he nods to his invisible Angel. Wolfe's dense and fanciful prose represents a writing style not often seen in today's literature. Perhaps modern readers don't have the attention span necessary to cope with such detail. But it really resonated with me. I loved how he associated specific repetitive descriptions with different characters. The reader comes to expect certain words and phrases to pop up whenever a particular character appears in the narrative. It's both comforting and satisfying. Wolfe's writing is very self-indulgent, though, and when considering that his fiction is merely thinly-disguised autobiography, it makes me think that he was probably a pretty annoying guy in real life. There are more than a few self-important passages in this book, and he certainly goes off on some questionable tangents. But overall, this is a true American classic, and anyone who would deny it is probably just jealous. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Read more for its "influence" than its content -- it is wild (NOT raw -- highly edited), and juvenile with an alcoholic father at the center of the first chapters. ( )
  keylawk | Jan 16, 2014 |
I am not sure why I waited so long to pick up Thomas Wolfe. I had seen it on various lists to read, its importance. And so I got to experience something I had not encountered much before. I don't think I have come across someone who could pack as much thought and feeling into a sentence as this man.

The criticisms I have come across about Wolfe's work is that is mostly autobiographical. Maybe so, but it is quite a story in that. The book really to me was about life and death in all its gore and glory. The Gant family, the living portrait of every dysfunctional family past and present. Often reading like poetry it captivated me pretty much from start to finish. I would recommend it to everyone to complete their education on great American literature. ( )
  knightlight777 | Jan 2, 2014 |
Started reading this book on June 2, 1948, on which date I said: "It is smashy and heavy." On June 3 I said: "Look Homeward, Angelis realistic, but more than realistic in its orgy of introspection, its detailed youngness." On June 5 I said: "look Homeward is spotty--great in spots, although at times not good. The boy, Eugene, was surely quit a guy." When I finished the book I copied some of the stirring language therefrom since I didnot own the bookI read. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 18, 2013 |
Why did I read this book? Well, I read “You Can’t Go Home Again” when I was about sixteen, and was impressed by Wolfe’s lavish prose. So I decided to read this, and almost instantly regretted it. But I slogged through the whole thing.

The hardest thing was the level of racism and sexism. It’s totally understandable for a book written by a Southern white man in the 20s. In this autobiographical novel, he was describing the environment he lived in, and the way he thought about it. But it just really grates on modern sensibilities.

And yes, sometimes his writing is gorgeous, rich, and amazing. But most of the time it just feels way, way overwritten. His adjective-heavy sentences can feel over-stuffed. So I’m not recommending that anybody else read this, even though there are about a dozen pages that are transcendent. It just wasn’t enough for me. Maybe books like this aren’t supposed to be read out of their time.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Wolfeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maxwell E. PerkinsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
... a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces. Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone? O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this most weary unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When? O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.
Dedication
To A.B.

"Then, as all my soules bee,
Emparadis'd in you, (in whom alone
I understand, and grow and see,)
The rafters of my body, bone
Being still with you, the Muscle, Sinew, and Veine,
Which tile this house, will come againe."
First words
A destiny that leads the English to the Dutch is strange enough; but one that leads from Epsom into Pennsylvania, and thence into the hills that shut in Altamont over the proud coral cry of the cock, and the soft stone smile of an angel, is touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world.
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The Amazon cover with Peggy Darty as author does not belong with this novel; it goes with the novel she wrote that has the same title.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743297318, Paperback)

The stunning, classic coming-of-age novel written by one of America's foremost Southern writers

A legendary author on par with William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Wolfe published Look Homeward, Angel, his first novel, about a young man's burning desire to leave his small town and tumultuous family in search of a better life, in 1929. It gave the world proof of his genius and launched a powerful legacy.

The novel follows the trajectory of Eugene Gant, a brilliant and restless young man whose wanderlust and passion shape his adolescent years in rural North Carolina. Wolfe said that Look Homeward, Angel is "a book made out of my life," and his largely autobiographical story about the quest for a greater intellectual life has resonated with and influenced generations of readers, including some of today's most important novelists. Rich with lyrical prose and vivid characterizations, this twentieth-century American classic will capture the hearts and imaginations of every reader.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The novel follows the trajectory of Eugene Gant, a brilliant and restless young man whose wanderlust and passion shape his adolescent years in rural North Carolina.

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