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Much of The Adventures of Augie March takes place during the Great Depression, but far from being a chronicle of deprivation, the first of Saul Bellow’s string of masterpieces testifies to the explosive richness of life when it is lived at high risk and in tumultuous social circumstances.
In a brawling Chicago of crooks, con artists, second-story men, extravagant dreamers, snappy dressers, and cold-eyed pragmatists, Augie March undergoes his sentimental education—an education that, though imbued with reality, will take him into realms progressively stranger, more marvelous, more filled with indecipherable meaning. The Adventures of Augie March is the product of an elegant and skeptical mind on which nothing is lost, and of an appetite for the look and feel of things that is both enormous and passionate. The result of these varying felicities is a novel that is immediate, strikingly unpredictable, authentic, and convincing.
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"The Adventures of Augie March is the great American novel. Search no further." --Martin Amis, The Atlantic Monthly
Originally published in 1953, Saul Bellow's modern picaresque tale grandly illustrates twentieth-century man's restless pursuit of an elusive meaning. Augie March, a young man growing up in Chicago during the Great Depression, doesn't understand success on other people's terms. Fleeing to Mexico in search of something to fill his restless soul and soothe his hunger for adventure, Augie latches on to a wild succession of occupations until his journey brings him full circle. Yet beneath Augie's carefree nature lies a reflective person with a strong sense of responsibility to both himself and others, who in the end achieves a success of his own making. A modern-day Columbus, Augie March is a man searching not for land but for self and soul and, ultimately, for his place in the world.
"A book of extraordinary and massive power ... plainly one of the richest of twentieth-century American novels." --Alfred Kazin
"[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)
"The best postwar American novel, The Adventures of Augie March magnificently terminates and fulfills the line of Melville, Twain, and Whitman." --James Wood, The New RepublicAbout the Author:
SAUL BELLOW (1915-2005) is the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, for The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, and Mr. Sammler's Planet. He was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Humboldt's Gift in 1975, and in 1976 received 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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