The Adventures of Augie March

The Adventures of Augie March

infobox Book |
name = The Adventures of Augie March
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Saul Bellow
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Picaresque novel
publisher = Viking Press
release_date = 1953
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages = 536 pp
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Adventures of Augie March" (1953) is a novel by Saul Bellow.It centers on the eponymous character who grows up during the Great Depression. This "picaresque novel" is an example of "bildungsroman", tracing the development of an individual through a series of encounters, occupations and relationships from boyhood to manhood.

The Novel

Although the picaresque style is among the earliest forms of the novel, Bellow's concerns are fundamentally modern. With an intricate plot and allusive style, he explores contrasting themes of alienation and belonging, poverty and wealth, love and loss.

Its protagonist may be said to represent the modern "Everyman" – an individual struggling to make sense of, and succeed in, an alienating world. The novel is also specific to the American literary canon in that it celebrates the capacity of the individual to progress in society by virtue of nothing more than his own "luck and pluck". This idea is stated explicitly in the opening and most famous lines of the novel, in which the narrator defines himself as an American. This was an important act of self-definition for the author and narrator, both immigrants to America. It also establishes the dual meaning of "America" in the novel: that is, the physical and political "America", as well as the more figurative "American" as a state-of-mind:

This celebration of the individual determines Bellow's presentation of fate in the novel. Unlike other picaresque novels, such as Henry Fielding's "Tom Jones", the plot of "Augie March" is never pre-determined. Things simply happen to Augie, one after another, with no evident story arc or hint as to where his adventures are leading. This contributes to the sense that Augie, as the Everyman, is lost in a chaotic world, but it also enhances the sense that the Everyman, as an autonomous creation, is in control of his own fate. By turns, Bellow exposes the alienating forces of the American city, while revealing the great opportunities that it offers.

=Summary of plot=

The story describes Augie March's growth from childhood to a fairly stable maturity. Augie, with his brother Simon and the mentally abnormal George have no father and are brought up by their mother who is losing her eyesight, and a tyrannical grandmother in very humble circumstances in the rough parts of Chicago. Augie drifts from one situation to another in a free-wheeling manner - jobs, women, homes, education and lifestyle.

In lifestyle he ranges from near adoption by a wealthy couple who spoil him, to a struggle for existence stealing books and helping out friends in desperate straits. His most unusual adventure is his flight to Mexico with the wild and irrepressible Thea who tries to catch lizards with an eagle.

His jobs include general assistance to the slightly corrupt Einhorn, helping in a dog training parlour, working for his brother at a coal-tip, working for with a Union - when he nearly gets beaten up - until finally he joins the merchant navy in the war.

With women, from casual acquaintances as a youth he gets engaged to a wealthy cousin of his brother's wife. However through a scandal not of his fault, he is discarded. After a casual affair with the Greek hotel maid he is swept off by Thea whom he had met when living with the rich Renlings and who forecast their relationship even though he loved her sister. After the fiasco in Mexico where he put up with the disasters of lizard hunting and snake hunting, suffered a terrible accident on the horse, whiled away his time playing cards while Thea drifted apart, and finally met Stella, he returned to Chicago where subsequently he met up with Stella again and married her.

All through the book, Augie is encouraged into education, but never quite seems to make it; he reads a great deal for himself and develops quite a philosophy of life. During the war, his ship is sunk and he suffers a difficult episode alone in a lifeboat with what turns out to be a lunatic. After rescue he returns to Stella and the book ends with them living a slightly dubious existence in France, he involved in some fairly shady business deals and she attempting to pursue a career in acting.

Literary significance and criticism

Widely heralded as a classic of American literature, the novel has been included in "Time Magazine"'s 100 best novels, [cite web | title=The Complete List - Time Magazine - All-Time 100 Novels | url= | accessdate=2007-05-14] [cite web | title=The Adventures of Augie March (1953) Review | url=,24459,the_adventures_of_augie_march,00.html | accessdate=2007-05-14] and is also number 81 on the Modern Library's list of the best 20th-century novels. [ cite web | title=The Modern Library - 100 Best Novels | url= | accessdate=2007-05-14]

As a novel "centering on the quest for identity," it has been compared to novels as diverse as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "Moby Dick", and "The Catcher in the Rye." [Chametzsky, Jules. "Our Decentralized Literature: Cultural Mediations in Selected Jewish and Southern Writers." Boston: University of Massachusetts Press (1986), p. 82.]


* The Australian band Augie March take their name from the title of this book. They are known for their descriptive, literary lyrical content.
* Singer/songwriter Fionn Regan references this book in his song "Put A Penny In The Slot".


#if: {colwidth|}| style="-moz-column-width:{colwidth}; column-width:{colwidth};" | #if: {1|}| style="-moz-column-count:{1}; column-count:{1} };" |>

External links

* [ Study guide about the novel "The Adventures of Augie March"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Augie March — This article is about the Australian rock band. For the book by Saul Bellow, see The Adventures of Augie March. Augie March …   Wikipedia

  • The Victim (novel) — For the 1980 martial arts comedy film, see The Victim (film). For other uses, see Victim. Infobox Book name = The Victim image caption = author = Saul Bellow country = United States language = English genre = Novel publisher = The Vanguard Press… …   Wikipedia

  • The Jetsons — title card. Genre Animated science fiction Sitcom Format Animated comedy series …   Wikipedia

  • The Jim Henson Company — Type Private Industry Entertainment Founded New York (1958) Headquarters …   Wikipedia

  • The Daemon Lover — also known as James Harris , James Herries , or The House Carpenter (Roud [ bin/query.cgi?cross=off index roud=on query=14 field=20 14] , Child 243) is a popular ballad from Britain. It tells the story of a man (usual …   Wikipedia

  • Seize the Day (novel) — infobox Book | name = Seize the Day title orig = translator = image caption = author = Saul Bellow illustrator = cover artist = country = United States language = English series = genre = publisher = Viking release date = 1956 english release… …   Wikipedia

  • Great Books of the 20th Century — is a series of novels published by Penguin Books.Included in this series:* The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck * Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad * Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez * The Adventures of Augie March by Saul… …   Wikipedia

  • The Muppets' Wizard of Oz — For other uses, see The Wizard of Oz. The Muppets Wizard of Oz Promotional poster Written by Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes, Tom Martin, Adam F. Goldberg Directed …   Wikipedia

  • The Muppets — This article is about the puppet characters. For the 2011 film, see The Muppets (film). The Muppets are a group of puppet characters created by Jim Henson starting in 1954–55. Although the term is often used to refer to any puppet that resembles… …   Wikipedia

  • The Muppet Show — At the Dance redirects here. For the song by Corey Hart, see First Offense. The Muppet Show Kermit the Frog as seen on the show s opening sequence. Format Live a …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”