Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Look Homeward, Angel” as Want to Read:
Look Homeward, Angel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Look Homeward, Angel

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  10,423 Ratings  ·  715 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 hi
...more
Paperback, 644 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Scribner (first published 1929)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Look Homeward, Angel, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Kathy I have to be in the right mood to read either of them, and they both stick with me. Both authors drew characters that resonate.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Bam
While visiting Asheville, NC, in May, we boarded a trolley at the Visitor's Center for a guided tour of the city. 'Uncle Ted' was our driver, a retired high school history teacher with a great sense of humor but an occasionally hard-to-decipher accent. He took umbrage if we didn't always laugh at his jokes but often we were just a little slow to parse out his meaning!

But what soon became very apparent was how much the city of Asheville loves its authors--and none more so than Thomas Wolfe (1900
...more
Richard Derus
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
David
Jun 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Agatha Donkar
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
...more
Lawyer
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with a Greek and Latin Dictionary with a big dollop of patience
Recommended to Lawyer 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

 photo LHA1st_zps46652bad.jpg
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.

 photo Wolfe_zpsb83ba050.jpg
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
...more
Betsy Robinson
Why on earth was I so driven to read this book? I, who eschew excess words and have no problem wiping them out of my own books and the work I edit?

I first read Look Homeward, Angel when I was in junior high school. I retained none of the story, only my reaction to it: awe.

For more than forty years, the yellowing hardcover that my father purchased at Macy’s (per the stamp on the back end paper) has been on my top shelf near the ceiling—a shelf of books that I rescued from death by mildew in my
...more
Maria Thomarey
2,5 δεν ξέρω γιατι , αλλα το βαρέθηκα . Αρχίζω να πιστευω πως εχω θεμα με την αμερικανική λογοτεχνία . Ή απλως ηταν bad timing ... Ποιος ξέρει ;
Mitch Albom
I saw and loved the movie “Genius” (about Max Perkins and Thomas Wolfe) and realized I’d skipped this one as a kid. I definitely shouldn’t have.
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Conrad
Mar 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
...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
...more
David Spencer
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
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
...more
Laurie Frost
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Stephen
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Erin
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
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
...more
Diane Barnes
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: re-reads
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
Jamie
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-dirty-south
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.

...more
Claire
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An American masterpiece that will stay with me for a long time. Beautifully written and an authentic portrait of the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I would have loved to read this in a class or with a book club in order to dissect it more thoroughly, because I found myself not having the patience to reread too much, so I just swallowed long, winding passages whole and kept going. One star off for its solipsism. I kept thinking I would have preferred to read the exact same material told by ...more
Matej Vidaković
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Wolfe je pisac za razumijevanje čijeg djela je potrebno nešto i znati o dotičnome. 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
...more
Eric Kibler
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Rhonda
May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Vit Babenco
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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
...more
Donna Brown
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wolfe astounds me with his writing on every page.
Michael Kotsarinis
3.5/5

Ένα βιβλίο που σίγουρα δεν είναι ευκολοδιάβαστο αλλά προσφέρει πολλές στιγμές αναγνωστικής απόλαυσης στους λάτρεις της λογοτεχνίας. Και μόνο οι πάρα πολλές αναφορές σε λογοτεχνικά κείμενα και πρόσωπα αρκούν για αυτό.

Στο μεγάλο αυτό μυθιστόρημα (και όχι μόνο λόγω μεγέθους) παρακολουθούμε την Αμερική των αρχών του 20ου αιώνα μέσα από τα μάτια μιας οικογένειας, με την οπτική από ένα σημείο και μετά να επικεντρώνεται στο ένα από τα μέλη της οικογένειας. Παρακολουθούμε τις σχέσεις, τις σκέψεις κ
...more
Alan, but please, feel free to call me Ragnar Lothbrok
Look Homeward, Angel, is a book about anything in particular. But for the same reason is a book about everything.

... a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.

This is the way how we are introduced to the story, like if we were arrived late, and we had had lost the beginning. In this stone, that leaf, and the unfound door, Mr. Wolfe represents the happiness, or the lost happiness of the human kind.
In all the forgotten faces he sees not only the
...more
Madeline
Dec 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • USA: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money
  • Babbitt
  • The Hamlet
  • Lie Down in Darkness
  • God's Little Acre
  • The Making of Americans
  • Grover Cleveland (The American Presidents, #22, #24)
  • The Old Forest and Other Stories
  • Losing Battles
  • The Last Gentleman
  • Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery
  • The Rifles
  • The Bostonians
  • Entering Fire
  • Geronimo Rex
  • Consider The Eel: A Natural And Gastronomic History
  • The Member of the Wedding
7921
Thomas Clayton Wolfe (October 3, 1900 – September 15, 1938) was an American novelist of the early twentieth century.

Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written and published from the 1920s to the 1940s, vividly reflect on
...more
More about Thomas Wolfe...

Share This Book

“. . . 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.”
129 likes
“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.” 78 likes
More quotes…