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Toggle navigation. Scribner's, Fine first edition in a very good dust jacket, with no restoration. The publication of ''O Lost'' marks nothing less than the restoration of ''a masterpiece to the literary canon,'' Mr. Wolfe began making notes for the book as a graduate student in a play-writing course at Harvard. After Harvard, he had no luck in getting his wordy outpourings produced onstage, and got a job teaching English literature and composition at New York University. In New York he met Aline Bernstein, a theatrical set designer and a wealthy, married mother of two nearly 18 years his senior.

Her face was like a pansy, Wolfe said, and they began an affair. Bernstein urged Wolfe to switch to writing novels because they would be more suitable to his Whitmanesque style. She supported him while he wrote the first draft of ''O Lost. Wolfe's finished manuscript was rejected by several editors because it ''was so amateurish, autobiographical and unskillful,'' he wrote in ''The Story of a Novel,'' an essay. He hurled anti-Semitic invectives at Bernstein, berating her because she could not find him a publisher.

Finally the manuscript was sent to Perkins. Contrary to publishing myth, it did not have to be delivered in a truck, Mr. It was 1, double-spaced pages and , words, not , words. It was not five feet high but about six inches high, he added. Perkins himself said, ''The extent of cutting in that book has somehow come to be greatly exaggerated. The year-old Wolfe was desperately eager to be published. Critics have said that Perkins, a reserved New Englander, became the steady father Wolfe never had, and Perkins, with five daughters, made of this tempestuous young writer the son he never had.

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Perkins cut the novel to focus more on Eugene. He also trimmed the opening, 21, words about Eugene's father, W. Gant, and the Battle of Gettysburg. Perkins said later that he regretted the cut. He also excised characters as well as Wolfe's parodies of boys' fiction and of T.

He shortened passages about Eugene's college career. The last encounter between Eugene and his brother's ghost was ''truncated and butchered,'' Mr. Bruccoli writes in the introduction to ''O Lost. Perkins also cut a description of a boy displaying his genitals, , another about a youth having sex with a chicken and a bawdy song about ''three whores from Canada. In one section Eugene describes his father carving a tombstone: ''He felt that this was no common craftsman, but a master, picking up his tools again for a brief chef-d'oeuvre.

Another passage was cut because Perkins thought it would be interpreted as a criticism of sportsmanship, which in was equated with patriotism: ''Even as he grew older, Eugene could not understand the idea of the playing field -- the canting talk of 'sportsmanship' which seemed to him to give to the stronger unhampered license to prey upon the weaker. Passages in which Wolfe ridicules the South were also removed.

Eugene, Wolfe wrote, could not think of Southern women ''without the bigotry and petulance with which they used the romantic legend that enhaloed them, nor of the men without the cowardice and gregariousness of their opinions, nor of anything their lives had to offer without the pretentious sentimentality.

More books from this author: Thomas Wolfe

Finally Perkins changed Wolfe's title to ''Look Homeward, Angel'' because the publisher's salesmen said ''O Lost'' ''was not a good title, not a selling title,'' Mr. The final book was pages. If ''O Lost'' had been printed in its entirety with the same type and page size as the cut version, it would have been about pages, Mr.

In the wake of these losses, a destabilized Oliver is sent to Richmond for a "cure" with little success. He returns home to abuse his family, at times threatening to kill his second wife Eliza Eugene Gant's mother.

Thomas Wolfe: Look Homeward Angel

The couple remain together, however, and have a total of six surviving children, the oldest born in Eugene's birth follows a difficult labor during which his father, Oliver, is drunk downstairs. Nonetheless, Oliver Gant forms a special bond with his son, Eugene, from early on. He begins to get his drinking under control, with less frequent occasional binges, although his marriage becomes strained as Eliza's patience with him grows thinner.


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  8. By the fifth chapter they are no longer sleeping in the same bedroom. Despite his flaws, Oliver Gant is the family's keystone; he reads Shakespeare, has his daughter Helen read poetry, and keeps great fires burning in the house as symbols of warmth for the family. His gusto is the source of energy and strength for the family.

    Look Homeward, Angel

    Even his raging diatribes against his wife sustain the tempo of domestic life. When Eugene is six years old and starting to school, Oliver journeys to California for the last time, returning home to the joy of his family. Eugene's early education includes several clashes with teachers but he has a love of books and is bright, much to the pride of both his parents.

    His mother continues to baby him, unwilling to see him grow up; she does not cut his hair, even though he is teased about its length by the other boys. Eugene begins his education at UNC as a teenage boy, alienated and out of place. He becomes the butt of practical jokes by the older fellow students. He works hard to become active in extracurricular activities including the debate club and philosophy association.

    After his freshman year, Eugene's summer back in Altamont is marked by him falling in love with a year-old tenant — Laura James — at his mother's boarding house. Eugene became obsessed with Laura and at the end of the summer she tells him that she is engaged to be married to a man in Norfolk, Virginia.

    Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe - Book Chat

    Eugene falls into a funk which haunts him for another two years. When Wolfe himself became ill in , the family insisted he be sent to Baltimore to receive treatment at the only facility the Wolfe family trusted.

    Thomas Wolfe: Look Homeward Angel | Literary Traveler

    Eugene returns to UNC and becomes very involved in academic activities including serving as the editor of the school newspaper, the literary magazine and the poetry publication. He joins a drama writer's seminar and achieves acclaim. His reputation on campus was a humorous eccentric which in turn made him funnier and more beloved. However, below this outward image was a young man who was intensely sensitive, lonely and hyper-emotional. In the spring of his roommate unexpectedly died of heart disease, throwing Eugene into another funk.

    Then in the summer of , Eugene worked at the shipyards at Norfolk, hoping to earn extra money for the upcoming school year, but instead turns into a nightmare with him living homeless and famished for most of the summer. After returning to UNC in the fall of , he is summoned by his mother to come home immediately because brother Ben is in a near coma with pneumonia. Thomas Wolfe's biographer Elizabeth Nowell said Wolfe's description of Ben's death was the finest writing of his career.

    He tells his mother of his plans; she begs him to remain in North Carolina and work for a newspaper. Eugene tells Eliza that he has a destiny elsewhere and that he cannot be boxed in by a small mountain town in North Carolina.


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    Look Homeward, Angel was published in to generally positive reviews in North America, most praising the author's brilliance and emotional power. Daniels , those critics wished that "Tom Wolfe's big sprawling powerful pouring prose would have been served in neater packages of sweeter stuff.