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Look Homeward, Angel

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  8,176 ratings  ·  531 reviews
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

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Paperback, 644 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Scribner (first published 1929)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 2.5* of five

The Book Report: 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
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Evan
This book is a masterpiece that I wouldn't recommended to my worst enemy. It is dense, repetitive, overly descriptive to the nth degree, filled with page after page of infuriating, hard-to-like characters, and more or less moves like molasses. It also is possibly the most beautifully written, poetic and longing book I've read. I've cradled it and put it aside variously over the course of the last month and a half -- during one of the most difficult and trying periods of my life: the loss of my j ...more
A.
This book is my nemesis.

No, seriously: I've been trying to read it for almost six years. I've tried to read it in the spring, the summer, the fall, the winter -- on planes, on the bus, on the El, in Chicago, in Baltimore, in North Carolina. And every single time, I stall out about 60% of the way through.

Stargate: Atlantis fans think that John Sheppard's still trying to read War and Peace after three years in the Pegasus Galaxy; I canonically can't finish Look Homeward, Angel.

I know it shouldn't
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David
sometimes books have to be read at a certain time in your life. for me. this one was the perfect end to college. i finished this two days after graduation. after all of my friends departed for points unknown or home. i was laying in the grass at fordham in the bronx with the sun shining and with the words my mother spoke to me when she dropped me off four years earlier. she said, you won't be back. and i told her i would. but reading this. finishing it in the grass in the bronx. with everyone wh ...more
Mike
Jul 31, 2014 Mike rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with a Greek and Latin Dictionary with a big dollop of patience
Recommended to Mike by: O.B. Emerson, Professor Emeritus English, University of Alabama
Look Homeward, Angel, A Story of Buried Life: Or, Why I Can't Go Home Again

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Look Homeward, Angel, First Edition, Charles Scribner's Sons, NY, NY, 1929

The manuscript Thomas Wolfe submitted to master editor Maxwell Perkins was not titled Look Homeward, Angel, A Story of Buried Life. Rather, Wolfe had chosen O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life.

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Thomas Wolfe, a buried life?

I call Perkins the master editor for he was already responsible for neatening up the works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzg
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Conrad
The first line: "A destiny that leads from the English to the Dutch is strange enough..." Oh, really? This book has definitely not aged well; he has little sympathy for people who are so far outside the right people as to not be of English stock - I would guess he thought being a Yankee well nigh unforgivable.

That said, there's something haunting about Wolfe's prose, which often reads almost like prose poem: "Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger
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David Lentz
When Thomas Wolfe is at his best, his writing is inspired, lyrical and athletic. Clearly, the work may be considered by some to be self-indulgent as the story line stays pretty close to home. Home is located in the hills of western North Carolina at his mother's boarding house, Dixieland. When a writer is fixed on his or her autobiography, and in Wolfe's case this involves his childhood, early youth and college education, the writing seems more non-fiction than fiction. This story is essentially ...more
Larry Bassett
I have been trying to read this book for decades. Literally decades. So, since it has been chosen for the July 2014 read for the GR group On the Southern Literary Trail, I have another chance. Maybe reading it with a group will be the magic I need.

This book is over 500 pages in its original hardcover format and just chuck filled with detail. Here we have a paragraph about Eugene, our protagonist, in his youth:
There was in him a savage honesty, which exercised an uncontrollable domination over
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David Spencer
Granted, I went into this book wanting to like it. I had heard good things from Kurt Vonnegut saying it changed his life when he read it around the age of graduation from college and from another writer who said it impacted him. But I believe Thomas Wolfe's first novel here is an exceptional work and one of the best coming-of-age stories for anyone that enjoys the Bildungsroman novels and is fairly literary.

I am not certain that someone who is not an English major or a lover of long and in-depth
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Diane Barnes
In revisiting this novel, I found it to be very different from the masterpiece I considered it to be in my 20's. I would have rated it a 5 star at that point in my life, because it rang so true. It no longer resonates in the same way because (maybe sadly) I no longer have the patience for a young man who just wants to get away, from parents, friends and hometown, and rails against them incessantly. The writing is still lyrical, and thank goodness I can appreciate that. Good-bye Thomas Wolfe, nic ...more
Laurie Frost
Likely the first and probably still the best portrait of a spectacularly dysfunctional American family by a stupendously gifted stylist, I imagine that readers fall into two camps from which there are no defections: those who find Wolfe's style too over-the-top and give up after 50 pages, and those who find it appealing over-the-top and want to do nothing more but keep reading and either begin rereading as soon as they reach the end or head for Of Time and the River and would happily read anythi ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
I decided to read this because Thomas Wolfe was from my area and I only had to read one short story of his for an English class. I wanted to see what he was all about. This is basically the slightly fictionalized story of his childhood and young adult years growing up in the mountains of North Carolina in the early 1900's.

I read the very first sentence of this book and my heart sank. So I read it again. And again. After about the fifth reading, I finally had some idea what he was trying to say a
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Rhonda
I have often looked at Wolfe's books as surrealistic, his ideas thrown back at him in a necessary reflection of apparently meaningless things, but ones which, by necessity of being so integral into one's being, become important. I can always remember as an adolescent thinking that this book, judging from its title, must certainly be something maudlin and childish, a kind of reminiscence that resides in the happy minds of those who dream without nightmares. For years I wanted nothing to do with i ...more
Gloria
So, I've tackled Thomas Wolfe.

This is a tough one for me to rate, let alone review. It's different from a lot of other books/authors I've read.
Stream-of-consciousness. I hear that term tossed around, pinning it on everyone from Faulkner and Joyce, to Fitzgerald and Palahniuk. If that's the case, than even each one of them has their own style within in that ... style.

This book was very "dramatic." The dialogue, the actions of the characters bordered on melodrama. A lot of shrieking and clutching
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Stephen
There’s a large rock near the road in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. Every time I pass it, I think of the sunny afternoon in 1984 that I sat there and read Thomas Wolfe’s autobiographical “Look Homeward Angel.” I didn’t finish the book there, it’s far too hefty, but it’s the place that I mentally connect to the story of Eugene Gant, i.e. Wolfe himself.

After finishing the book, I drove to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Home in downtown Asheville, just to see the boarding house his mother op
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Jamie
Books are made out of books and many a book has been made out of this one. It lays such a brickwork, you’re almost obliged to read it, fated. But loving it? I couldn’t, not quite. After the first third I was dying for signs of Philip Carey, finding it so paltry and frustrating after something like Of Human Bondage. A metric ton of adjectives and a tenth of the power or story.

The ruinous Gants are mighty memorable, though, and this is the raw material for so many others. Thank you, Thomas Wolfe.

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Donna Brown
Wolfe astounds me with his writing on every page.
Vit Babenco
“The vast wheel of life, of which he was the hub, spun round”.
Generally speaking Look Homeward, Angel is about avarice and its consequences. Greed ruined the family and even if the protagonist managed to escape the seeds of destruction were already sown inside him.
Exposed to tuberculosis from early childhood the children contracted this disease and majority of them, including Thomas Wolfe, died of different forms of tuberculosis – so much for a mother’s heart.
“Each moment is the fruit of forty
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Eric Kibler
The quintessential American autobiographical coming-of-age novel.

Thomas Wolfe was born in 1900. So was his fictional surrogate, Eugene Gant. Wolfe grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, a city nestled in a basin of mountains. Asheville was something of a resort community for southerners who wanted to get some mountain air without leaving the South. A lot of people were afflicted with tuberculosis back then, and the recommended cure was to spend a few weeks or months at a sanitarium and breathe th
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Janet
My God! What did I do to deserve this?
Do I sound like Oliver Gant?
I hope so….if I hadn’t gotten the audio, I never would have made it through this 500+ page slog. Maybe readers in 1929, when the book was originally published, liked this sort of writing. I remember being assigned to read it in high school but I must’ve gotten the Cliff Notes because I don’t remember a word of it.
Some of it was amusing, like Gant’s rants and Eliza’s greed and obsession with acquiring real estate to the point of
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Jan
Why read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel? Isn’t it too rambling, undisciplined, and just dated? Isn’t Maxwell Perkins really responsible for the book?

Among the reasons to read it is Wolfe’s writing. He wrote with enormous energy and had an untamed imagination; his writings were intensely personal and emotional, yet hauntingly lyrical. He was a Romantic and by capturing his story, he was trying to capture the experience of all man. In many ways, he is closer to Whitman than almost any other wr
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Reid
Read 104 pages and the reviews here - doesn't quite seem worth continuing for 400 more pages of tiny print. Cool to see some influence on Kerouac, for one. I'm giving his other classic a try... ah, will also try the pre-edited version of LHA called O Lost...

Ok, read O Lost through Part 1, page 176, and I'm disembarking from this train to nowhere? Haha, no, it's good, and I definitely enjoyed this more than LHA, with its humorous sarcasm left intact, but I'm not quite in the mood to continue with
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Erin
Very rarely do I hit a wall with a book that makes me think I will never finish it. I inherited this book from my parents, who inherited it from my Nana. It has been sitting on my nightstand for over half a year, where it rests while I turn to other reads for a break. It is currently in seven different pieces. Last Sunday, as I was reading it in my favorite breakfast spot, a page actually tore loose and landed smack in the middle of my oatmeal. Pieces of the binding, resembling dead moth parts s ...more
El
Thomas Wolfe and Tom Wolfe are not the same person. The former died in 1938. The latter is still alive. There sometimes is confusion.

Thomas Wolfe wrote Look Homeward, Angel when he was rather young, and it's almost hard to believe once you trample your way through this lofty tome. It's a highly fictionalized account of Wolfe's own life, told through the character of Eugene Gant from his birth up until just shy of his twentieth year. The family dynamic is surely a complicated one, with an intensl
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Matej Vidaković
Thomas Wolfe je pisac za razumijevanje čijeg djela je potrebno nešto i znati o njemu. Nije uvijek nužno poznavati privatan život pisca kada se želi promišljati i vrednovati ono što je napisao, ali u ovom slučaju , djelo je neodvojivo od osobe.

Wolfe pripada onoj istoj generaciji američkih pisaca kojoj su pripadali i Hemingway, Faulkner, John Dos Passos i F.S.Fitzgerald. Pa ipak, on nikada nije imao gotovo ništa zajedničkog sa pripadnicima tzv. "izgubljene generacije" . Istovremeno, Wolfe je vjer
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Madeline
Jan 06, 2008 Madeline rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: saxon
Shelves: fiction
i'm not sure how to describe this book other than with fragmented sentences:

the random accident of life. the way you sometimes stop and say, "how did i end up here?" the loneliness and isolation of the everyday, when surrounded by people who love you. the desperate circles families run around in. the guilt, shame, pride, expectations and defiance that comes with having a legacy of a large, powerful, rampaging and drunken father.

i'm the kind of person who always skips to the last page and reads t
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Craig
"Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time."
Thus Wolfe's Bildungsroman greets us and then sends our pert selves down the path on a journey into and out of a mind vexed by spirits past and present. The future burning for fuel hot tears, slovenly humps of passion brought and lost, bright beginnings and desperate losses. Wolfe works a magic which might be described but like all good art, must b
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Natasja
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anita
Aug 17, 2007 Anita added it
Recommends it for: lovers of literature
I was about 17 when I first read this book, and the exquisitely written story of a young man's self-discovery at the beginning of the last century made a lasting impression on me. So when a road trip took me through Asheville NC two years ago, a stop at the Thomas Wolfe house was a must, as was buying a new copy of Look Homeward Angel. I still haven't finished it, though each time I open it I am struck once again by the beautiful language. But all these years later, I am also aware that the lang ...more
kate
Aug 13, 2014 kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who were introspective youths
A wonderfully flawed novel. The last 10 pages were so beautiful that they made me forget where I was for a moment. The other 500 pages are good, sure, but those last few make the rest worthwhile. You Can't Go Home Again is by far Wolfe's crowning achievement (and perhaps more readable than this), but each novel helps you appreciate the other more fully.
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On the Southern L...: Look Homeward, Angel: Initial Impressions, July, 2014 75 51 Aug 17, 2014 07:37AM  
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Thomas Clayton Wolfe was an important American novelist of the 20th century. He wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works, and novel fragments. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodical, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written during the Great Depression, depict the variety and diversity of American culture.
More about Thomas Wolfe...
You Can't Go Home Again Of Time and the River: A Legend of Man's Hunger in His Youth The Web and the Rock Lost Boy: A Novella The Complete Short Stories Of Thomas Wolfe

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“. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; 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 lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this 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.”
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“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into the nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.” 47 likes
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