A Taste of Augie March

Following are some of my favorite quotes from that great American novel, Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March. I studied this novel with Professor Doug Bauer at Bennington College in Fall 2010, in his class “Malamud, Bellow, & Roth” (highly recommended to Bennington students. All his classes are top-notch). Later I’ll share the paper I wrote on this novel, regarding the theme of the animal. Page numbers cited below are from the Penguin classics edition. My hope is that these quotes give a flavor of Bellow’s keen, unique voice and style in this, perhaps his greatest novel. His style reminds me of Dickens and Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg–sublimely embodied, ecstatic, overflowing, heartfelt.

I guess nothing restrains people from demanding ideal conditions. Very little restrains them from anything.          -413

That’s the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what’s real.      -437

…if there was anything I knew by now it was how impossible it is to live without something infinitely mighty and great.     -450​

Please God! I thought, keep me from being sucked into another one of those great currents where I can’t be myself. Naturally I wanted to be of help, and rescue and peril attracted me.     -463​

Lord, what a runner after good things, servant of love, embarker on schemes, recruit of sublime ideas, and good-time Charlie!​ Why, it was a crying matter, no fooling, to anyone who might know which side was up, that here was I trying to refuse to lead a disappointed life.          -470

​About some paths of life either you guess or you never know, because you can’t be told.           -417

So the only possessing is of the moment. If you’re able.       -443​

That’s the animal ridens in me, the laughing creature forever rising up.    -583​​

Let the necessity for the mystical great things of life​, which, not satisfied, lives in us as the father of secret miseries, be fulfilled and have a chance to show it’s not the devil himself.          -492

Mr. Saul Bellow


About Kestrel Slocombe

I like writing, meditation, art, reading, riding horses, playing guitar, watching trees in the wind, ferns, the smell of woodsmoke, Mozart and Bach, long walks in the wilderness, and the sound of the cello.
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