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586 pages, Paperback
First published September 18, 1953
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.
The spirit of man, enslaved, sobs in the silence of boredom, the bitter antagonist. Boredom therefore can arise from the cessation of habitual functions, even though these may be boring too. It is also the shriek of unused capacities, the doom of serving no great end or design, or contributing to no master force. The obedience that is not willingly given because nobody knows how to request it. The harmony that is not accomplished. This lies behind boredom.
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 axis to the unknown that is neither guaranteed to exist nor enviable in its existence.
I headed downtown right away. It was still early in the evening, glittering with electric, with ice; and trembling in the factories, those nearly all windows, over the prairies that had returned over demolitions with winter grass pricking the snow and thrashed and frozen together into beards by the wind. The cold simmer of the lake also, blue; the steady skating of rails too, down to the dark.Down into the dark, down into the laden senses, conveyed in a romantic style among the concrete jungle, a precious mental note of beauty amongst the tough old exteriors of cold and grit. There's no saving here. There's the thought. And, therein, lies the world.
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.
All the influences were lined up waiting for me. I was born, and there they were to form me, which is why I tell you more of them than of myself. (4.1)An elderly boarder in his family’s home describes him as easy to manipulate, which the subsequent story confirms.
…you’re too easy to tickle … Promise you a joke, a laugh, a piece of candy, or a lick of ice-cream, and you’ll leave everything and run.” (3.8)His success with young women and his ability to win the confidence of rich people—one couple offered to adopt him—indicate that he apparently is blessed with a combination of charisma and good looks. We certainly know he has an extensive vocabulary from the endless flow of words coming from the descriptions of his adventures filling up six hundred pages (22 hours of audio) with text.
“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.”The title of Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March evokes Huckleberry Finn, and the voice that tells it—like the one Mark Twain created for Huck—is alive with the energies of speech. From the outset, Augie March grabs our ear and yanks it exuberantly. Ever restless, Bellow’s irrepressible hero roams from Chicago to Mexico and on into postwar Europe—“Look at me, going everywhere!” He taunts himself—where he’s wheeling and dealing at story’s end, still searching “for the right thing to do, for a fate good enough.” It sounds like an American story in more ways that one.