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

by Thomas Wolfe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (29)  German (1)  English (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
The description of Eugene Gant's letter to Laura James holds true for the book as well; "...a proud and boastful letter salted with scatterings of Greek, Latin, and English verse...but for a moment at the end, his fiercely beating heart stormed through...".

Look Homeward, Angel chronicles Eugene's life from birth to his leaving a home where he never felt at home, away from a family where all were strangers to each other. Born to a father who found himself, "a stranger in a strange land among people who would always be alien to him", Eugene understood that "men were forever strangers to one another..". Eugene's private internal world of Shakespeare, Shelley, and Milton, set in the lost cities of the antiquities, contrasts sharply with the external world he shared with the mountain grills (yokels?) of rustic Altamont, Catawba (N.C.?).

The paradox of being alone while surrounded by family and community is a recurring theme throughout the book and appears again near the end in the poignant advice Eugene's mother gives him as he is leaving for Harvard; "When you're a stranger in a strange land it's mighty good sometimes to have someone you know." ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
I know that this is a classic, but it just didn't do it for me. There were spots of brilliance, but there were pages of rambling that I just couldn't stay focused on. It is summer and I was on a time schedule because it was for book club so maybe that affected my focus. ( )
  carolfoisset | Jun 29, 2016 |
Just the best. I still think USA is the great American novel, but this comes damned close. Gorgeous haunting writing you can submerge yourself in. ( )
  ChrisNewton | Mar 18, 2016 |
A long masterpiece which I am glad I have now read be cannot enthusiastically recommend to others. Thomas Wolfe is clearly a master at narration and description and likely a great writer overall, but this autobiographical novel meanders through his life (including an egoistical recounting of his birth - so inflated I laughed), describing and developing fabulous characters, and you start to understand why this book generated some criticism in Wolfe's hometown. Overall, Thomas Wolfe was a masterly writer, making this book easier to read than I anticipated, but I still can't jump on the bandwagon to praise him without pause. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jan 9, 2016 |
Alone. This is a difficult concept to consider when thinking about the greatness both in size and content of Thomas Wolfe's first novel, Look Homeward Angel. The inclusion of so much of the world and so many other voices almost drowns out the voice of Eugene Gant, the narrator of this immense and impressive novel. But perhaps we should begin a consideration of this novel with the question of destiny. This is what we read in the first paragraph:
"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 smile of an angel, is touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world."

Is this destiny that of Eugene as well? And is it mere chance or will Eugene have a will to make his way in this world? This shows the direction of the story and, as it expands to take in the Gant family of Father, Mother, and siblings in Altamont, I was impressed with the translation of a country's manifest destiny into a town's and into a family's and beyond that the personal story and destiny of one Eugene Gant.

This translation of destiny is a story of coming of age told in what we today might call a "mash-up" of styles that leave the reader looking for structure among the historical commentaries, classical allusions, family rows, and soaring beauty of many more lyrical passages. The last of these alone made the book worth reading. Yes, it is worth persevering the Whitmanesque size of the narrative for some further passages of the beauty in the world that destiny had bequeathed to young Eugene Gant. While he is young and pursuing an education that seems unconventional, in spite of his attendance at the traditional schools, he is living a life of isolation from most of the world around him. There are exceptions, his relationship with his brother Ben is particularly poignant; yet there is a yearning for escape, from family and from Altamont to a world where Eugene may not feel quite so alone.

His estrangement from his own family is both exacerbated and caused by unlikable qualities from his father's boorish drunkenness to Steve's abusive behavior to his mother Eliza's self-centeredness. She is focused on a miserliness that builds a material fortune but does nothing for Eugene. With all his struggles Eugene remains detached from family and home; he seeks some solace with another family, the Leonards, and finds an "angel" in Margaret Leonard. But the stone angels outside his home remain a symbol that has warmth only in an ironical sense.

Wolfe writes near the end of the book that Eugene "stood for the last time by the angels of his father's porch . . . like a man who stands upon a hill above the town he has left, yet does not say 'The town is near,' but turns his eyes upon the distant soaring ranges" (p 508). This is where his true destiny lies. This, perhaps, is a place where he will no longer feel the pangs of isolation or, perhaps, it is merely a dream of a destiny denied as yet. For this reader it is not unlike the statement of another young man, Stephen Dedalus, who at the end of A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man says, "I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." ( )
  jwhenderson | Jun 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
"Kan De finne om ikkje meir enn ei bok til som kjem på høgd med den av Thomas Wolfe, da har De verkelig gjort ein gjerning." Olav Duun

Da Eliza Gant hadde født yngstebarnet, Eugene, "hadde hun stirret dypt ned i de mørke øynene og sett noe som hun visste skulle gløde der inne bestandig, en dyp utilgjengelig og uoppløselig ensomhet, hun visste det var en fremmed som hadde fått liv i det mørke fanget hennes, en gjenganger i sitt eget sinn, ensom når han var alene og ensom når han var midt i verden. Fortapt."

Utkom første gang på norsk i 1933.
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Wolfeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Maxwell E. PerkinsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Modick, KlausAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wehrli, IrmaTranslatorsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:41 -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.

» see all 3 descriptions

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