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Adventures of Augie March, The

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a novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1953. A retrospectively narrated autobiography, this picaresque novel charts the life of Augie March, a Chicago Jew, through early childhood to his post-war maturity as a black marketeer in Europe. The opening line, ‘I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way …’, establishes the novel as a quest for identity. Along the way, Augie March experiences grief, loss, and betrayal, as he outgrows his family (although he remains strongly attached to his mother, Grandma Lausch, and his retarded brother George), the Depression, and Chicago. He goes through a variety of jobs and adventures, from being a ‘man at arms’ for the crooked businessman William Einhorn then the salesman protégé of Mrs Renling, before meeting the ‘upper-class’ Thea Fenchel. Escaping this net of wealth for a time, he gets involved in crime with Joe Gorman, and then steals books in order to attend the University of Chicago. After a series of affairs, Augie meets Thea again and they pass through exploits in Mexico, before Augie finally ends up in Europe married to an actress. Moving through different milieux, the novel has a broad linguistic scope, ranging from the language of the Jewish immigrants to the intercourse of University of Chicago intellectuals. Augie's search for his personal integrity is constantly tested through various symbolic encounters, and the novel's conclusion appears to be merely a temporary resolution of stability.

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