O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life

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Univ of South Carolina Press, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 694 pages
10 Reviews
The editing of Thomas Wolfe's first novel, originally titled O Lost, has been the subject of literary argument since its 1929 publication in abridged form as Look Homeward, Angel. This powerful coming-of-age novel tells the rich story of Eugene Gant, a young North Carolina man who longs to escape the confines of his small-town life and his tumultuous family. At the insistence of Maxwell Perkins, the legendary editor at Charles Scribner's Sons, Wolfe cut the typescript by 22 percent. Sixty-six thousand words were omitted for reasons of propriety and publishing economics, as well as to remove material deemed expendable by Perkins. To be published for the first time on October 3, 2000 -- the centenary of Wolfe's birth -- O Lost presents the complete text of the novel's manuscript.

For seventy years Wolfe scholars have speculated about the merits of the unpublished complete work and about the editorial process -- particularly the reputed collaboration of Perkins and Wolfe. In order to present this classic novel in its original form as written by Wolfe, the text has been established by Arlyn and Matthew J. Bruccoli from the carbon copy of the typescript and from Wolfe's pencil manuscript. In addition to restoring passages omitted from Look Homeward, Angel, the editors have corrected errors introduced by the typist and other mistakes in the original text and have explicated problematic readings. An introduction and appendixes -- including textual, bibliographical, and explanatory notes -- reconstruct Wolfe's process of creation and place it in the context of the publishing process.

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Review: O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life (original version of Look Homeward, Angel)

User Review  - Frank Richardson - Goodreads

This is the original version of Look Homeward Angel which, of course, is the great American classic written by Thomas Wolfe and published in 1929 to the absolute consternation of the citizens of ... Read full review

Review: O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life (original version of Look Homeward, Angel)

User Review  - Beth Sherman - Goodreads

Took me five years--not continuously--to finish this brick of a book. When I was 15 I thought Wolfe was genius. Now I could easily edit this down to 1/3 of its length. A sample of words found in O ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Acknowledgments
ix
Introduction
xi
Manuscript and Typescript
xxi
Editorial Policy
xxxix
A Story of the Buried Life
1
Part I
3
Part II
177
Part III
423
Chapter Breaks
663
Substantive Emendations
672
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He received his M.A. from Harvard University, taught at New York University from 1924 to 1930, and traveled abroad when he could. His long autobiographical series of novels begins with Look Homeward, Angel published in 1929, an account of a sensitive young man named Eugene Gant. Eugene's story is continued in Of Time and the River, publishing in 1935, in which a publisher's note announced that "this novel is the second in a series of six" and gave the six titles. Wolfe lived to complete only four. Hurt and troubled by widespread rumors that his undisciplined manuscripts had been shaped into publishable form by Scribner's famous editor Maxwell Perkins, Wolfe changed publishers, moving from Scribner to Harper, and for legal reasons found it necessary to change the name of his fictional surrogate. The George Webber of The Web and the Rock, published in 1939 and You Can't Go Home Again, published 1940 is essentially Eugene Gant continuing his search for the meaning of life. Wolfe traces the turbulent path of his hero through his European experiences, which have shown George the beginnings of Hitlerism, so that he tells his editor that henceforth he will write fiction of social protest. Wolfe did not live to write the books so bravely announced. From an early bout with pneumonia, he suffered from tuberculosis of the lungs, which led to fatal tuberculosis of the brain. He died following brain surgery at age 38. In addition to the four installments of the one long autobiographical novel on which his reputation must chiefly rest, Wolfe wrote some short stories that are collected in The Hills Beyond, published in 1941 and From Death to Morning, publishd in 1935. As a student in the famous 47 Workshop at Harvard, and afterward on his own, Wolfe wrote several plays, including Welcome to Our City. Wolfe's own plays were not as successful in the theater as Ketti Frings's adaptation of Look Homeward, Angel as a comedy-drama in three acts; that work won a Pulitzer Prize in 1958 as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best play of the season.

Arlyn Bruccoli, an independent scholar, was an editor of the Dictionary of British Literary Characters. She and her husband, Matthew J. Bruccoli, live in Columbia, South Carolina.

Matthew J. Bruccoli, Emily Brown Jefferies Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, is the leading authority on F. Scott Fitzgerald and the authors of the House of Scribner.

Bibliographic information