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The Human Comedy By William Saroyan
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The Human Comedy By William Saroyan

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,319 ratings  ·  424 reviews
The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's -- a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants.. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught bet ...more
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Published December 15th 1966 by Mass Paperback (first published February 4th 1943)
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Laurel Not at all. I would recommend this book; it's a classic I have read several times. I think you're taking it too literally; some of the best books…moreNot at all. I would recommend this book; it's a classic I have read several times. I think you're taking it too literally; some of the best books require a suspension of disbelief. Think of it as an allegory.(less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,319 ratings  ·  424 reviews


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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Human Comedy, William Saroyan
The Human Comedy is a 1943 novel by William Saroyan. The story of The Human Comedy, and the characters Homer and Ulysses in particular, is based on Saroyan's life, living fatherless with his siblings and his mother. Ithaca, California is based on the real town of Fresno, California, Saroyan's hometown.
عنوانها: کمدی انسانی؛ پیک مرگ و زندگی؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سارویان (سارایان)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و چهارم ماه سپتامبر سال 1973 میلادی
عنوان: ک
...more
Lauren G
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
i have just reread this beautiful little masterpiece and fell in love with saroyan and this book all over again. i am now going to pick up his short stories and marvel at those. i say, do this now. you can read it in a weekend. short, sweet, tidy, and beautiful, it is a lovely novel which touches the heart and soul without being sappy, overly sentimental or unrealistic. it takes place in the fictional 'ithaca' which, if you note by the mention of Roeding Park or Gottschalks, is actually Fresno, ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Children's)
The place is Ithaca, a fictional small town in California's San Joaquin Valley. The year is 1943 and World War II is on-going. The Macauley family, just like any other families, is taking the brunt of war: the father is dead, the eldest son Marcus is in the war front, the mother is working in a factory, the daughter has left the school and is looking for work, the 14-y/o Homer has taken the job as a telegraph messenger to help support the family including his younger brother, the 4-y/o Ulysses.

This childr
...more
Kenny
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
“Everything is changed for you. But it is still the same, too. The loneliness you feel has come to you because you are no longer a child. But the world has always been full of that loneliness.”
William Saroyan ~~ The Human Comedy


1

Have you ever read a book that makes you want to go out into the world make it a better place? Or maybe it makes you want to write a letter to get ahold of an old frien
...more
Chrissie
I like this book so much because it wonderfully portrays how life is a battle for young and old and the in-between, for all of us. The characters in the book are each fighting different battles, from the youngest of only four caught in a trap, losing a father, missing a brother and confused by the general state of the world around him, to an elderly telegrapher who cannot bear the consequences of war in his hometown (Ithaca, San Joaquin Valley, California) or for that matter the general state of ...more
Robert Hobkirk
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had been meaning to read The Human Comedy for years and finally got around to it - glad I did. This was Saroyan's first novel written in 1943. William Saroyan dropped out of school in the 8th grade and worked as a telegram messenger. He used this experience for his main character's job and age. If this book were a painting it would be a Normal Rockwell. It set in a small California town in the Great Central Valley during WWII, with everyone living in a very godly manner. Hi characters are more ...more
Jim
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I had always avoided reading he work of William Saroyan, but for some reason I picked up a copy of The Human Comedy at the local library and read it. I was enchanted by the author's vision of a small agricultural town in which the local residents are, for the most part, decent human beings who are kind to one another.

At the center are the two Macauley boys, Homer and Ulysses (the name of the town is Ithaca), their family and friends. The father had died before the story begins, an
...more
doug bowman
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in high school, back in the Seventies, and it had such a profound impact. I read it every three or four year

While the story develops through deceptively simple. vignettes, Saroyan writes poignantly about war, family,love, social class, and death. The characters are richly drawn, through their thoughts and interactions. Scenes and images are so touching and vividly that they remain long after you finish the book.

Just a bit of literary linking: I definitely see
...more
R.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, notable-2013
As is often the case with reading, one book plants a big fat Wile E Coyote roadsign arrow as to where you should turn next - and my arrival at The Human Comedy began (in part) thanks to a short story ("Literary Encounter") in Bradbury's We'll Always Have Paris. In the Bradbury tale, a wife, displeased with how her husband's personality changes with each new book he reads (he becomes quite an ass, a tough guy, during The Maltese Falcon, for example) decides to buy for him the books he was reading when he courted he ...more
Chrystal
Dec 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
I read this book 30 years ago and it made absolutely no impression on me whatsoever, so I thought I should read it again, in case I missed something. It still makes no impression on me today, other than being very preachy and brimming with naive sentimentality. I hope I remember not to read it again 30 years from now.
Craig
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great and touching read. A slice of Americana during the 1940s. I highly recommend this book for older children and teenagers (ages 10 -16). Families should read this book together. The story-line has no plot but is a series of vignettes in the lives of the Macauley family: a widowed mother (truly the heart and soul of the family - the children key off of her stability), older brother Marcus (serving as an American soldier in WWII), middle brother Homer (a 14 year-old who is discovering l ...more
Alicia
Dec 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alicia by: my dad
I found my grandmother's 1943 edition of this book on my dad's bookshelf. I enjoyed the story of a California family during World War 2: the dad has passed away, the older brother is fighting in the war, the teenage brother delivers telegraph messages such as messages telling mothers that their sons have been killed in the war, and the 4-year-old brother runs all over town unsupervised and observing lots of interesting things.

There are lots of words of wisdom in this book (or, as Mad
...more
Lisa
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's more of a series of moments in the lives of the people of Ithaca, California. It didn't really have a plot but it was quite intriguing, warming and heartbreaking at times. The story revolves around the Macauley family, Homer is fourteen and works at the telegraph office during World War 2. It is heartbreaking when he has to deliver the messages to families that their son has died at war. Marcus the older brother has gone to war. He had been the man of the family since the father had died. B ...more
Arpine Grigoryan
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: armenian, fiction, war, 2016
beautiful, moving and very kind
Mary Ronan Drew
This is not a book I would have kept reading beyond Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50 but it's for the Heart of Spirituality book group at the library, so I slogged through it. The problem is the book is terribly dated, and not in a good way.

Saroyan was originally writing a movie script with the title, The Human Comedy, and based on Saroyan's youth in Fresno, but he had a disagreement with the studio and although they went on to produce a movie, he took the title and the idea and created this
...more
Michelle
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Innocence and simplicity-both in the characters and in the writing.
Shushane Yesayan
When my dad saw that i was looking for a book t o read, immediately recommended this book to me. He had always been a fan of William Saroyan, so he really wanted me to read one of his books. The plot is about the experiences Homer Macauley and his siblings Ulysses, Bess, and Marcus. Homer is a teenage boy who got a job as a telegraph messenger. As he delivers the telegraphs, he encounters pretty weighty subjects that he is perhaps too young for. As he is taking on all these adult responsibilitie ...more
Sophia
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My father gave this to me in high school, and I reread it often enough that it made it onto my very small bookshelf in college, but funnily enough, he mentioned it the other day and I realized I'd forgotten all about it. This time around, I could see how it balanced between Salinger and Steinbeck, with a sweet simplicity all its own. It's the briefly-told (192 pages in my edition) story of a family in a central California town during WWII, as seen through the eyes of two brothers, one a newly-hi ...more
Linda
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In what first appears to be a short, easy-to-read story, I found, by the end, great depth and poignancy. Here's a short description by the publisher:
"The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's—a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West,
...more
Andrea
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure I would have appreciate this book more in a scholastic setting where someone else took the time to lead an analysis of it. I appreciate what the author was going for, I know it's a classic, but I found myself skimming sections. I felt lectured to. Maybe I will pick it up again when I am in a more philosophical frame of mind...
Valory
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was about 9 years old; I didn't know anything about it, but picked it up in my elementary school library. It made a deep impression on me. I think that I was aware, on some level, that this was true literature, something that I would have more experience with as I grew older. I have not re-read it since that time, but I think I will soon.
M.K.B. Graham
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorites. A beautifully written story that seems simple yet has great depth, particularly in the author's insights about life and death. A book to read and think about.
The Dusty Jacket
In a small town in Ithaca, California, during World War II, there lived the Macauley family—Mrs. Macauley and her four children: Marcus, Bess, Homer, and Ulysses. Marcus is serving in the army, Bess is attending college, Homer is determined to be the fastest telegraph messenger in the West, and young Ulysses, who at four years old, is enamored with everything in his very small world. The Macauleys are workers, dreamers, and God-fearing folks who are living each day to its fullest while trying to ...more
Alexander Rolfe
There were some good scenes, but the book feels pretty artificial, mainly because the author uses most of his characters to preach the same vague, feel-good religion.
Dylan Gelbard
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites of all time.
Josh Caporale
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first came across William Saroyan's written work when I was in seventh grade, where a complete section in our book consisted of Saroyan's shorter works. The first work, and the one that stayed with me the most, was a short work known as "The Telegram," that was a poignant account where a telegraph messenger named Homer had to deliver the news to a mother that her son was killed in combat. I am sure that I was aware that this story was part of a larger work and years later, I decided to look fo ...more
Igomigo1
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea
Now, they were passing a small boy who was watching the screen with total fascination.
"You'll get to Heaven," Spangler said to the boy, and then to Diana, "Come on, don't stand in the boy's way."
"What did you say, mister?" the boy said.
"Heaven!" Spangler said. "I say you'll get there."


Sometimes, you come across someone who is so genuine, good-natured, innocent, naive, sincere and honest that you find yourself thinking: "This one is definitely going to heaven". Well, reading S
...more
Maggie
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
long long ago i decided i wanted to read this book. finally i have done so. i am NOT disappointed. a well-formed story of endearing characters. a window on another age. and a worthy companion volume to COMPARE where we are now, as in life in america, and what it was more likely to be like in 1943 when the book was published. imo, we've grown up in the wrong direction. our loss. respect for others are at an all time low, in my opinion. and the one thing i saw in this book was a respect for others ...more
Susan
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a beautiful book. It's about a working family during World War II. The father has passed away. The eldest son is in the army and the next eldest son at fourteen takes on much of the responsibility for his family and makes real sacrifices to do it. It's very poignant because the sense of the book is both anti-war and committed to fighting oppression and allows that confusion simple clear expression. I found it deeply moving and illuminating about life in 1940's United States, at war with ...more
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William Saroyan was an American - Armenian author. The setting of many of his stories and plays was Fresno, California (sometimes under a fictional name), the center of Armenian-American life in California and where he grew up.
Saroyan was born in Fresno, California to Armenian immigrants from Bitlis, Turkey. At the age of three, after his father's death, Saroyan was placed in the orphanage i
...more
“You must not be unkind, especially when it happens that you're right.” 49 likes
“You must remember always to give, of everything you have. You must give foolishly even. You must be extravagant. You must give to all who come into your life. Then nothing and no one shall have power to cheat you of anything, for if you give to a thief, he cannot steal from you, and he himself is then no longer a thief. And the more you give, the more you will have to give.” 44 likes
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