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The Adventures of Augie March

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  13,030 Ratings  ·  775 Reviews
Augie comes on stage with one of literature’s most famous opening lines. “I am an American, Chicago born, 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.” It’s the “Call me Ishmael” of mid-20th-century American fiction. (For the record, Bellow was born in Canada.) Or it would be if Ishmael had be ...more
Paperback, Compass Books Edition, 536 pages
Published 1960 by Viking Press (first published 1953)
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
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Aubrey
4.5/5
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
...more
Tony
Dec 12, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, u-s-lit
I am an American, Altoona born--not Chicago, but just as somber. At an impressionable age I waited until class was over, then walked up, Bellow's Seize the Day in hand, and asked Professor Mitchell for a moment of his time; Mr. Mitchell, with his wispy hair and pale skin, always the same blue suit, a librarian of a man, conceived before acid-free paper. I said, "The names, the names in this novel; every one is the name of a theorist in psychology. Surely that means something!" And Mr. Mitchell ...more
Jimmy
Oct 12, 2012 Jimmy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
Edward
Nov 17, 2016 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.


What an opening sentence, which manages to prefigure the entire novel - the frenetic energy of it, diverting this way and that, moving enigmatically from one idea to the next by an inscrutable trajectory. It is clear that Augie will make the record in
...more
Paul Bryant
I went to Italy once. Siena. The cathedral. Huh. 14th century popes with a licorish allsort fetish and way too much money. Okay, it was, you know, impressive. You could tell those popes wanted to be Alexander McQueen and they were all 6 centuries too early.


What, I hear you cry, does this have to do with Augie March, the mid 20th century Chicago likely lad? Only that I tiptoed out of the book and the cathedral with the same sour feeling. Sour and sore. I was beat. It was all too much. It was over
...more
Michael
Who am I to deny recognition of what others call “the Great American Novel”? Augie is launched on the world like a modern day Huckleberry Finn crossed with Tom Jones. But Augie’s arc does not quite have their level of comic edge, the moral quandaries of Huck or pursuit of women like Tom. Scrambling like a chameleon from one odd job or scheme to another he passes from one mentor to another, then breaks free but never quite grows up. He was a great inspiration for me, always aspiring to better him ...more
julieta
Feb 11, 2008 julieta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Teresa
Aug 15, 2016 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Arrastei-me, penosamente, pelas primeiras quatrocentas páginas e as últimas trezentas folheei vertiginosamente.

Mas o livro é bom.
O Martin Amis diz que é o grande romance da literatura americana.
Até faz parte de algumas listas de leitura obrigatória e tudo.
O problema é mesmo meu que não atino com Saul Bellow.
Matt

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
...more
مروان البلوشي
لم تخيب هذه الرواية ظني، وهي التي ساهمت بفوز كاتبها "سول بيلو" بجائزة نوبل عام 1976.

حقا عظيمة بموضوعها وهمها الأساسي، وغنية ومليئة بألوان الحياة، وهي أيضا ورغم انطلاقها من واقع أمريكي تقليدي جدا، إلا أنها تخاطبنا جميعا كبشر، نسعى في هذه الحياة للبحث عن أنفسنا.
هذا لا يعني أن الرواية تقليدية فنيا، بل هي نقطة تنصهر فيها أساليب متعددة من أجناس أدبية مختلفة لم أعرف أن قد تتلاقى بهذا الجمال.

بطل الرواية وهو "أوغي"، يحاول الهرب من هاوية الكساد العظيم الذي ضرب الاقتصاد الأمريكي والعالمي في الثلاثينات من
...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
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Drew
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
Cosimo
Oct 23, 2015 Cosimo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lasciar le donne? Pazzo!

“Quando ho iniziato il mio racconto ho detto che sarei stato semplice e avrei risposto ai colpi come venivano, e anche il carattere di un uomo è il suo destino. Be', allora è ovvio che questo destino, o quello di cui si accontenta, è anche il suo carattere”.

«Prima scrivi e poi cancelli: e questo lo chiami lavorare». Così il padre Abram Bellow commentò negli anni Trenta la scelta del figlio di dedicarsi alla letteratura come mestiere. Un padre che non ebbe la fortuna di ap
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. 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
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David
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
Abby
Jun 11, 2015 Abby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
It took me almost forty years to read “Augie March.” I bought the book in the late '70s (cover price $1.95 and cover art worthy of Harold Robbins):



This was shortly after Bellow won the Nobel Prize for Literature and after years of listening to my father (also Saul, also a first-generation American Jew, and roughly Bellow's contemporary) rave about the book. (It was also years before Bellow became a curmudgeonly conservative but that's another story.)

The book sat on many different shelves all th
...more
Mateo
Apr 04, 2015 Mateo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Lentz
Jun 21, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mo
Oct 17, 2007 Mo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hobolit
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
Ensiform
Mar 23, 2013 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Ruthiella
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
AC
I am done..., 32% and I get the picture... Jimmy (as so often) captures my sentiments completely
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
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...
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 05, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  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
...more
Rayroy
May 12, 2013 Rayroy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vit Babenco
Aug 05, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little man in a big world – alone and lost in a crowd – how to find one’s walk of life and what way to choose?
“Friends, human pals, men and brethren, there is no brief, digest, or shorthand way to say where it leads. Crusoe, alone with nature, under heaven, had a busy, complicated time of it with the unhuman itself, and I am in a crowd that yields results with much more difficulty and reluctance and am part of it myself.”
And wherever one is going one can’t be sure that a blind alley doesn’t li
...more
Rosana
Feb 24, 2013 Rosana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Robert
Dec 21, 2007 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 06, 2009 Harold Griffin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kecia
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
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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
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“Boredom is the conviction that you can't change ... the shriek of unused capacities.” 135 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.” 35 likes
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