The Adventures of Augie March - Saul BellowLondon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1954, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Poor Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper worn at the edges with a little loss to the spine ends and corners. Minor age-toning to the lining papers. The contents complete, clean and tight.
From the cover: “This is a book written on the grand scale: it might be called a heroic comedy, for it is the first time a modern writer has given us an epic consciously written in the comic tradition. The result is a celebration of life that is both fantastic and realistic, tragic and clowning.
Born in Chicago, that sombre city, Augie, the unheroic hero, emerges from the slums of the modern town and goes on his way through a rich and variegated humanity A ‘born recruit’, he throws himself into a wild series of occupations, only to reject each one as too limiting. Wise old crooks, rich middle-aged women, lunatic millionaires and petulant women all see in Augie their natural bait, want to take him over and adopt him — and Augie’s only strength is in saying no. It is not until he gets involved with the rich and beautiful Thea that his independence is seriously threatened. Reckless and dominating, she carries him off to Mexico, to train eagles for hunting lizards. But like Augie the eagle’s strength lies in, refusal. It is Stella, the prostitute, a subtler if less original siren, whom he marries. Augie proceeds to New York, to Europe and finally towards himself. I may be a flop at this line of endeavour, reflects Augie philosophically at the end, Columbus, too, thought he was a flop, probably, when they brought him back in chains. Which didn’t prove there was no America. Augie’s adventures are set against a rich background of minor characters: for example his brother Simon. Unlike Simon, he has gambled on a single image of success, and his possibilities diminish as Augie’s expand.
The Adventures of Augie March is written in the first important original style to appear since the war. Based on the idiom of the self-educated hero, it mixes slang and literary expressions together in an inspired jostle. For this reason Augie March represents a turning point in modern fiction, the beginning of a much needed revival of the great tradition.”