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Studs Lonigan

(Studs Lonigan #1-3)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,131 ratings  ·  108 reviews
An unparalleled example of American naturalism, the Studs Lonigan trilogy follows the hopes and dissipations of its remarkable main character, a would-be "tough guy" and archetypal adolescent, born to Irish-American parents on Chicago's South Side, through the turbulent years of World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression. The three novels--Young Lonigan, T ...more
Hardcover, 988 pages
Published 2004 by Library of America (first published 1935)
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3.81  · 
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 ·  2,131 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Moses Kilolo
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The basic question when reading a book of this stature is whether it’s worth the time, the effort and the attempt to absorb it. Many who might have read this trilogy will have different opinions, of course. I suspect some, the not so patient, will throw it at a corner and say how sorry and silly it is. But with patience, and an open mind it is possible to find the gold for what this book is. There were, of course, those portions that made me want to abandon it, but on the whole the book was just ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
You can't understand where you are if you don't know where you've been. James Farrell's Studs Lonigan is literature as instruction. It's a history lesson. Our modern society, and the sustained political and social reaction to it, grows from the people and mores of Studs and his times. Many Goodreads' reviewers expressed shock at the coarseness of the language, but political correctness and the acceptance of cultural and racial diversity are recent phenomena in American life. Farrell's trilogy is ...more
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dudes of culture who are afraid of what God will think of them
Recommended to Pete by: Moacir PDSP
Broke my face. I suppose, partially owing to the nominal 'Studs,' i thought this was a slice of life depression novel about getting by or not. it's definitely about not getting by, but the Depression is not strictly speaking what this is about -- an old-fashioned, even for 1935, sex-obsessed, violent, crushingly sad and toweringly beautiful work of art. Makes Sister Carrie look like an issue of JANE Magazine. Ignore at your eternal peril.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my great heroes, Studs Terkel -- born Louis Terkel-- adopted the name Studs because he was so affected by this book. I've had it on my list for a long time and have lived the full 874 pages for most of this hot summer. There is so much to talk about. In a nutshell, the book is incendiary; powerful; and eerie in its contemporary feel. Anyone who has ever glorified a past they never lived as being more "moral" or genteel? Should read this tour de force and quickly. They should have their ey ...more
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-lit
Meh. Coming from Chicago(-ish), the setting and historical context of this book were interesting. And it was well written. But the main character, Studs, was kind of annoying. And self-centered. And mean. This may be an effective portrait of the slightly threatened, racist, misogynistic white American male in the first half of the 20th century, but, gosh darn it, do you know how many portraits of the slightly threatened, racist, misogynistic white American male in the first half of the 20th cent ...more
Stephen Hughes
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you're looking to be thoroughly depressed by the actions (and inactions) of an Irish-American loser, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, you should wait until I publish my own autobiography. Thank you.
Studs Lonigan just lost a star, because, in rereading it, I found it rather flat. I still think it is a worthy--great, even--piece of American literature, but there is too much telling, not enough indistinctness. In reading Farrell's introduction, in which he states that his original intention was to portray youths without any spiritual grounding or true moral compass, I realize that the book is ahead of its time, as fiction that portrays dangerous, soulless youth plaguing American society is a ...more
Carol Storm
Studs Lonigan is a novel about a young man from an Irish family in Chicago. He grows up in the days of World War One, becomes a working man in the Roaring Twenties, and dies lost and broken and unemployed in the depths of the Great Depression.

What author James T. Farrell does is to put you into the mind and body of this youth, this boy, this searching young man, this dying lonely victim, as every dream and hope he has ever had is systematically poisoned by the corruption and brutality of the wo
Jul 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Studs Lonigan (Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, Judgment Day)
James T. Farrell (1932,1934,1935) #29

May 16, 2009

This has to be the most offensive series of books that I have ever read. The racial insensitivity just kills me. Usually I get fed up with today’s double standards of “Racial Sensitivity”, and those who know me know that I am not a big fan of Political Correctness in general, but come on. I realize that this was the early thirties, but how a book like Slaughterhouse F
Mike Moore
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Meet the Deplorables.

Studs Lonigan is a racist, misogynist, willfully ignorant, aimlessly angry, irresponsible, untrustworthy, belligerent, self-centered, bully. He's the hero of this story, and is generally sympathetic. Don't get me wrong, he's a horrible human being... whether he's beating up littler kids in the first book, unconscionably spreading venereal disease in the second, or failing to take responsibility for the mess of his life in the third, this is someone you have to be a little bi
Bob Schnell
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
Not for the politically correct, even though the language and situations ring true for the time. Like Mark Twain, James T. Farrell uses salty language to make the dialogue realistic while not exactly condoning it.

The story of Studs Lonigan, a working class Irish Catholic in Chicago, highlights his life from graduating grade school (7th grade equivalent)in 1916 to his engagement in 1930. A lot happens in those years, over 900 pages worth, and we experience it all through Studs' eyes and inner mo
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: My brother and son
Recommended to Veronica by: Modern Library's 100 Best Novels
Another triple header has put me a tad behind schedule, but I just gotta say that this one was out, and I mean way out, of the park. I must humbly acknowledge that I had never heard of James T. Farrell and what continually burst from my lips while reading this magnificent saga was “genius”. Farrell’s work is quite extensive and I will certainly be meeting up with him again after I complete this 100 book journey.

The Studs Lonigan trilogy is comprised of Young Lonigan (1932), The Young Manhood of
carl  theaker
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Young Lonigan

A good read and complement to similar historical context books of
the era such as John Dos Passos, USA trilogy. Gives another and
more personal perspective of the same. years. Studs isn't your hero
type, he's presented with all his goods & bads.

In 1916 he graduates from what we'd call Junior High. His parents
are proud that they sacrificed to put him & his sister through Catholic
school for a good education. Studs though hasn't learned much and
like his friends they all feel
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature, usa
Don't let the straightforward style fool you, this is a difficult novel. It's not the style though, it's more the scope and content. Any readers particularly squeamish about a lot of racism, ethnic bigotry, sexism, and homophobia are advised to stay away, because the words "nigger" and "kike" are not used sparingly or glibly. I will admit that I was frustrated and sick of this book for a large percentage of it, but I know that the end effect would not have been the same if I didn't read it all. ...more
Studs Lonigan, the great american dreamer. This character is similar in his abject failures to Jude The Obscure. An indolent and floundering wanna-be. He holds tightly to two fleeting moments in his life (an afternoon with a girl and a fight with a dude). He hopes for great things, dreams about them and gives us alot of introspection and yet he can achieve nothing because he never does anything except hang out in poolrooms, fight, talk with repugnance and vulgarity about women, and hope that som ...more
Bob Behlen
I don't know what to say: this book uses the words "kike" and "nigger" on practically every page, and the "hero" regularly blames all "kikes" and "niggers" for all of his problems. You keep expecting some reversal of his ignorant, red-neck, narrow-minded point of view, but it never comes.

Although the novel is 'rescued,' to some degree, in the last 500 pages (it is epic), I am still wondering why in the hell it was ever published by The Modern Library. I thought I could COUNT on them to distill t
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Who was Studs Lonigan? He was just another tough-guy wannabe who lived in the early part of the twentieth century. He was a lower middle-class Irish-American unable to escape the world he was born to. He was just like millions of other faceless man who lived at the same time. However, there was much more to him than that. Farrell reveals a complex inner dialogue that Studs is never able to really understand or express. The life of Studs is filled with racism, sexism, alcoholism - presented witho ...more
Greg and I began Young Lonigan a few weeks ago. I came across this author's name while preparing for a Naturialism course. Farrell seems to be one of the lesser known authors of the genre. Stusa is a funny character who is easy for a reader to become interested in. Farrell uses long tracts of listed descriptions. At times these sections can be tedious. We both noticed Farrell's roving point of view. The open lens of first perso stream of consciousness effectively shifts from one character to the ...more
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christie Bane
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book I had never even heard of before... and I loved it! After reading this book, I feel like I too spent a childhood in a working-class Catholic Irish-American family in Chicago during the 1920's and 1930's.

Let me clarify: not a lot happens in this book. Bill ("Studs" to everyone except his parents) grows up, drops out of school because he doesn't see the point, has a girlfriend named Lucy for like one afternoon and then spends the rest of his short life alternating between fantasizi
It's funny. 900 pages later, I don't know how I feel about Studs Lonigan. On one hand, he's the sort of guy I would have routinely made fun of at the bar in the years after high school, the sort of chump who is still stuck in his hometown -- nowadays he wouldn't be a high school dropout, he'd have barely passed a business degree in undergrad -- still camped out at the same bars he used to get into with fake IDs, still catcalling women while failing to get laid, blaming the blacks and Jews for th ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Farrell's trilogy is a landmark narrative of Irish-American urban life from World War I through the Depression. The books are rich, vivid and engrossing, though not without some major flaws. The first (Young Lonigan) neatly introduces and establishes the parameters of Studs Lonigan's life: the South Side Chicago neighborhood, the Lonigan family, the ever-present Catholic Church, within and against which the teenaged Studs struggles to find out who he is and who he'll become.

But the second book (
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
At 961 pages, this three-part trilogy actually had me wanting more. If I had to compare it to anything, it is like Trainspotting set in '20s/30s Chicago. (substitute heroin for bathtub gin and substitute Begbie for Weary Reilly). The novel follows the title character, a first generation Irish Catholic wannabe tough guy, from 7th grade through the opening years of the Great Depression. Unlike his parents who were born in Ireland, Studs' upbringing was middle class and many of his acquaintances co ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Hmm . . . I'm not really sure what to make of this book. After completing it I find that it was a bit of a fatalistic diatribe. The railing against Negroes (called various racist epithets throughout the book), Jews (the same), women in general (mysogny), lesbians and homosexuals was blood-curdling to read. It would be my hope that Farrell was laying bare the rampant racism and sexism of his day with a higher social purpose but I can't be at all certain of that. With the life story of the main ch ...more
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in a blue collar, Irish Catholic family, I was acutely aware of the paradoxes: The Irish are free-spirited rebels and poets in the vein of Oscar Wilde, but the Irish are also renowned for being cops, priests, and bigots.

The "Studs Lonigan Trilogy" encapsulates all of these contradictions. At face value, the bigotry and sexism of "Studs Lonigan" can be off putting, but a cursory check in about author James Farrell's history will re-iterate that he was just putting a mirror up to the wo
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs, Chicago Natives, Adults not sensitive to off-color comments
This book contains its share of racial slurs, anti-feminist sentiment and all types of offensive comments. However, if you can stomach it, the point of view really lends to the tale. This book tells the story of a lifetime of excuses and missed opportunities as Studs makes his way through turn-of-the-century-and-beyond Chicago. Being from the city, I found the story to bear a great deal of historical weight and I really learned from the context.

James T. Farrell is the author of this book, but a
James Hatton
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Studs Lonigan was a punk, a bully, a tough guy. He was a legend--in his own mind. Studs Lonigan was a thug. He chose to be a thug. He architected his life so as to become a thug. He had other choices. His choice was to be a thug. As a story, this book is just okay. Maybe three stars. But as a portrait of the life of an early 20th Century son of Irish immigrants it deserves four stars. The portrayal of the social and racial animosities, the dynamics of the streets on which Studs grew up, and the ...more
Mar 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adolescents and adults
A heartbreaking and vivid story, both as a portrait of working-class life in an earlier America and as a classically tragic tale of the life and death of a person, in many ways promising, whose life is blighted and finally destroyed by a combination of his own flaws and the obstacles presented by his environment. I read this in high school and found it a haunting story.
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Studs Lonigan is an extremely vivid character. Too bad he's not likeable in any way. The whole trilogy is so...banal. All those descriptions about families fighting over dinner and drinking and carousing and ruining your health and the good ol' days. Blecch. I could see the structure of paralleling Studs's life with the decline of the neighborhood, but whatever.
Richard Epstein
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
As a demonstration of the thinness of American literature, the inclusion of this in the Library of America is pretty much dispositive. Unless the guy in the office next door is teaching a class called "Unjustly Neglected Classics of American Naturalism," you're going to have a tough time finding anyone (except me, of course) who's read it. Not that this is a bad thing.
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James Thomas Farrell was an American novelist. One of his most famous works was the Studs Lonigan trilogy, which was made into a film in 1960 and into a television miniseries in 1979. The trilogy was voted number 29 on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.

Other books in the series

Studs Lonigan (3 books)
  • Young Lonigan
  • The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan
  • Judgment Day
“Life is sad enough without people writing sad books.” 14 likes
“All his life he had wished and waited, and there had been no change, except for the worse.” 7 likes
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