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The Adventures of Augie March

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  10,209 ratings  ·  623 reviews
The great novel of the American dream, of "the universal eligibility to be noble," Saul Bellow's third book charts the picaresque journey of one schemer, chancer, romantic, and holy fool: Augie March. Awarded the National Book Award in 1953, The Adventures of Augie March remains one of the classics of American literature.
ebook, 608 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Odyssey Editions (first published 1953)
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Ian Pagan-Szary
Original Review:

In Pursuit of Exuberance

I first read this in the mid-to-late 70's.

For a long time, I would have rated Bellow as one of my favourite three to five authors and Augie as one of my top three novels.

I haven't re-read it, but intend to. I am working from long distant memories now, but what I loved about it was the sense of exuberance and dynamism. At that time, it meant a lot to me to find evidence that intellect and vitality could be combined in one person.

It doesn't concern me so muc
Steve Sckenda
Augie March is a streetwise Huck Finn from the city’s Southside. Augie introduces himself in a famous opening sentence--worthy of David, Huck, or Holden:
I am an American, Chicago born--Chicago, that somber city--and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man's character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn't any way to disguise the
In the end you can't save your soul and life by thought. But if you think, the least of the consolation prizes is the world.
I may be American, but I am not Chicago born. Nor am I male, or of the generation that grew up in the roar of the twenties and came into adulthood soon after the crash. My life, and more importantly my perspective on said life, would be much different creatures than the ones I currently clamber around on. I think, though, they would've been much like Augie's, on an a
Saul Bellow's the Adventures of Augie March is one of three things; it's either Saul Bellow's most verbose novel, a piece of fiction that almost stands as an historical document of Chicago during the Great Depression, or one of the best contemporary examples of the picaresque novel. Either way it's good and bad, and lovely and sprawling, and a testament to Bellow's fascination with the life that emanated from Chicago in the fifties.

Augie, the protagonist of the story, is a tramp to say the least

Martin Amis, one of Bellow's acolytes, who doesn't suffer fools gladly, said simply this. After you finish Bellow at his best- and this is without question one of his absolute best- you don't even think you can write a novel...ever.

That's how good this is. I was ecstatic when I finished it.

Streamlined, wonderfully paced, exuberantly told.

Augie is one of the best characters you could ever hope to come across. Full of life, totally unpretentious, endlessly inventive adventerous, curious and human
The true adventure story is one that not only takes you through a man's life and everything that happens to him, but of his own discovery of who he is and what he wants to be in the world. This book by Bellow is just that. I had only read herzog by him, a very long time ago, but did not get it at all..maybe the time was not right because with the adventures of augie march my experience was completely different, I connected from the first moment, and loved every minute of it. Augie insists on not ...more
Adam Floridia
Only vaguely familiar with the name Saul Bellow, I can thank goodreads for, yet again, helping me discover a great book. Seeing it on one of my friend’s 5-star lists, I decided to give Augie March a read, especially after seeing that another friend had written something so highly of the author.

The first few pages reinforced exactly what Eric claimed: not since Nabokov have I been blown away by language like this. Nabokov’s sentences are long, often meandering, intensely vivid and smooth. Bellows
Looks like I'll have to change my final opinion of Saul Bellow, the same way I did with Cormac McCarthy. I read Henderson the Rain King and Dangling Man last year, and couldn't stand either of them. They were both a chore, even though Dangling Man was only 150 or so pages. Then I read Ravelstein, and although it was more enjoyable, it didn't seem likely to stick with me. I knew I had to give him one more shot at least, since everyone seems to like him so much, and The Adventures of Augie March s ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

It's said by some that Chicago might have the most vibrant literary community in the entire United States right now; and if that's indeed true, it'd be due in part to the remarkably popular "One Book One Chicago" (OBOC) program run by the Chicago Public Library (CPL), one of the many things that makes it s
David Lentz
This novel is unquestionably one of the great masterpieces of our time. Saul Bellow paints portraits of characters like Rembrandt. He has a brilliant technique for divulging not only the physical nuances of his characters but also gets deep into the essence of their souls. He has an astute grasp of motivation and spins a complex tale with an ease that astounds. Even the most unusual twists of fate seem natural and authentic. Augie is a man "in search of a worthwhile fate." After struggling at th ...more
The saga of a fatherless boy, brought up by his timid mother and overbearing grandmother, as he grows to a man, trying to make his way in Depression-era Chicago (and later, in other countries). Augie believes that “a man’s character is his fate,” and thus that “this fate, or what he settles for, is also his character.” Therefore, always searching for “a fate good enough” – somehow “fitting into other people’s schemes” but never coming up with any of his own – he feels buffeted by the vicissitude ...more
This is the American epic. In the lineage of The Odyssey and The Aeneid and Argonautica, Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March is a modern struggle against, or for, fate. It is an paean of life's potential, of endurance. Augie's struggle is not to get ahead, but to take the helm of his fate, to direct it toward better waters, to live the way he wants, the way he feels is right for him, and the ways of life for other men be damned. He is often showered with opportunities, grande advantages which ...more
536 pages of very small type, I might add. What a chore reading this book was! I began reading it in 2008 and finished over a year later... and this was my third attempt. Bellows uses every adjective in the dictionary. Never heard of Belshazzar or Pasiphaë? Me neither, but Bellows has, and he inserts every historical, mythological, biblical and classical reference, every Yiddish, Latin and French phrase, as well as every long word in English he knows, as if to say, “Hey, look how smart I am!”. O ...more
I was sick this week and stayed in bed for two days straight with all 586 lovely, lyrical, sad, brilliant pages of Augie March and his adventures. It took me about 75 pages to get into Bellow's very particular style---now I am hooked. Done for. This book contains so much that I am at a loss to describe it. One of my favorite little snippets (extremely pertinent to my current state of affairs): "I never blamed myself for throwing aside such things as didn't let themselves be read with fervor, for ...more
I am done..., 32% and I get the picture... Jimmy (as so often) captures my sentiments completely
If there weren't so many, MANY books on my TBR, I'd likely persevere, but I'm too old for that particular virtue (or vice..., as the case may be).

A let down, I admit...
Feb 05, 2014 Fewlas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fewlas by: Regalo di Lanalang
Shelves: regalo, americana
È tutta questione di comprendere se e in quale misura il nostro carattere sia anche il nostro destino. E poi però ci sono tutta una serie di corollari ingannevoli ma purtroppo estremamente precisi che determinano queste avventure, questi tentativi di comprensione. Come, ad esempio: ”Se per gli altri è facile deve esserlo anche per me”. Bisogna essere cretini per arrovellarsi il cervello con tali paturnie, suppongo, visto che ci sono quelli che già nella culla sanno cosa e come saranno da grandi ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 05, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 101 Books for Men; National Book Award, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 edition)
The Adventures of Augie March (first published in 1953) is the 3rd novel of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature awardee, Saul Bellow. The year before that he also won the Pulitzer award for his 8th novel, Humbolt's Gift. He is the only writer who has won the National Book Award three times: The Adventures of Augie March (1954), Herzhog (1965) and Mr. Sammler's Planet (1971).

Last year, I read Herzhog and I gave it a 4 star (I really liked it).

I spent 5 days reading this. It's an easy read but th
Looking for the Great American Novel? According to the likes of Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, and Christopher Hitchens, look no further than this book. (Why the book jacket would quote three Englishmen about the Great American Novel is a mystery not explained by the editors at Penguin Classics.) James Wood, in his almost ecstatic essay "Saul Bellow's Comic Style," called Bellow "probably the greatest writer of American prose of the 20th century--where greatest means most abundant, various, precis ...more
Saul Bellow was one of the greatest writers of American Contemorary fiction to ever write. It's just with this one I never was fully enagaged or emersed.The way Bellow wrote it was with great skill and intellect, he understood Man's place in time between the Great Depression and World War Two. Not being able to love this book or get more out of it is more on me then Bellow's writing. There would be no Jonathan Franzen or Jeffery Eugenides had Saul Bellow never written.I really enjoyed the eagle ...more
Saul Bellow had been on my list of authors to try for years. Truth be told, I was scared of him. Winner of the Nobel and the Pulitzer, I imagined Bellow’s writing to be dense and academic, or too experimental. And, yes, there is something one could call experimental about The Adventures of Augie March , a departure from the more “traditional” forms of storytelling, however it was so accessible and engaging, drawing me in almost effortless.

I actually listened to this book in audio format but I f
This novel has been on my "to read" list for a long time, even before Martin Amis declared it "the Great American Novel" several years ago in Harpers. It's stuffed with dozens of vivid characters and incidents, and as a Chicagoan and Chicago fan I was especially taken with Bellow's descriptions of the city and its sometimes bizarre inhabitants in the 1930s and '40s. The narrative thread is essentially a variation on that classic theme: a young man's search for identity and a place in the world. ...more
Harold Griffin
This picaresque novel about Chicago-Born Augie March, from his youth in Chicago to his seemingly-doomed marriage, is rich in language, characters, episodes and ideas. I cannot say that I find it a "great" book, but there are so many bits of greatness in it that, considering the current banal literary landscape, it is impossible not to give it a five-star rating.

"Augie" was not a journey without its flaws, for this reader. After one reading, I would say that it is considering the time span it e
The Adventures of Augie March won the National Book award in 1954. It was a difficult read for me because there are so many characters and situations and it's a long book.

To me, the book slides between a Picaresque novel (where the main character has numerous adventures but remains basically unchanged at the end of the novel) or a bildungsroman--somebody pronounce that for me--(a coming of age novel where the character grows throughout the story.) I believe Augie March changes too little to qual
Dear Augie, This is not about you. It's about me. You are a fine book but I can only give you 3 stars. It's my own hang-up. I just don't like long books. There are so many other books sitting on my bookshelf waiting their turn and I want to experience them. The commintment of spending two weeks with you made me feel suffocated. I know those other books haven't won as many awards as you have but I need the freedom to read them. Please don't be hurt Augie. Really, it's not you, it's me. I know gen ...more
Jul 31, 2014 Eric marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Nabokov and Bellow divide the world between them; there is no third. Ok maybe Updike is third. And maybe not the world, just the postwar American novel.
Nishta Mehra
I both listened to this book on audio & read it as text, and found both experiences satisfying and frustrating. The literal voice of the narrator in the audio was terrifically alive, but I found that, at times, I might have skimmed were I reading, but couldn't because I was listening. Also, this was my first encounter with Bellow and I was stunned at his turns of phrases...when reading the text, I would pore over certain lines and copy them down in my journal.

I took this book on because one
Jon Scott
Apr 21, 2010 Jon Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone interested in 20th century American lit
Recommended to Jon by: no one
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I read one Saul Bellow book when I was an undergraduate, Henderson the Rain King, which failed to make any lasting impression. When I thought of any of Bellow's work, I was reminded of Twain's definition of a classic which depicted my attitude towards him, his works are praised but who reads them? I came across Augie when I read the Time magazine list of the top 100 American books. One day, when I was in a remainder bookstore, I bought a copy of it cheap, esp. f ...more
"I am an American, Chicago born..." that's Augie and me too. What is that special connection one has with a book set in your own city describing neighborhoods and landmarks so familiar you can see them? Augie comments on the pillars holding up the El on Lake Street and I have driven that route and the pigeons nest just as he describes them. The restaurants and theaters he visits during the Depression survived long enough that I visited them in my own youth. Though I came to it 40 years later, I ...more
This is definitely not an easy bedtime read.
It was a very challenging book but very rewarding also.
Every sentence of this book seemed important and some
sentences i had to read multiple times and i still did
not get the full meaning.But other sentences just stopped
me in my tracks and really made me think.

The characters in this book are brilliant and i will
remember a lot of them for a long time.
The descriptions of the characters are so dense and
makes you really feel for them.In particular George
ETA: When I wrote my review last night, I was terribly disappointed with the ending, the result being I didn’t want to write ANYTHING about the damn book. Yeah, I am an emotional person who gets involved in the books I read. There is much I didn’t but should have mentioned.

Bellow’s writing is descriptive, filled with details of how people and places look. The dialogs capture the people’s lifestyles very well. You understand who you are dealing with. I personally feel I looked at a family which i
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Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He attended the University of Chicago, received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, and served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

Mr. Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man, was pu
More about Saul Bellow...
Herzog Henderson the Rain King Humboldt's Gift Seize the Day Mr. Sammler's Planet

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“Boredom is the conviction that you can't change ... the shriek of unused capacities.” 108 likes
“I mean you have been disappointed in love, but don't you know how many things there are to be disappointed in besides love? You are lucky to be still disappointed in love. Later it may be even more terrible.” 28 likes
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