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eugene Grant of Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel

Walser also finds that the work is autobiographical, and he sees the novel from the point of view of the author, as something that helps the writer himself on his road to self-discovery. What Wolfe writes about Eugene Gant thus becomes a depiction of and aid to his own quest for self-discovery and understanding, and Walser cites Wolfe to the effect that all fiction is autobiographical:

If the people in his book had their basis in human experience, the life and being they possessed was only what he himself gave them (Walser 54).

John Hagan counters the argument in earlier criticism that the novel is only a formless autobiography, the product of a naif who had no ideas and only a rudimentary understanding of technique. He would agree with Kennedy that Wolfe had control over his material and had much to say through his characters. Hagan finds that Wolfe surrounds his main character with mystical experiences that relate to the creative life of the character:

For although Look Homeward, Angel is in many ways a Naturalistic novel, its protagonist is an imaginative young man of torrential vitality and idealism for whom a Naturalistic view of life can never be enough (Hagan 269).

Darlene H. Unrue suggests that the novel has much in common with the Southern Gothic style and that its images evoke that view of life:

A closer look reveals that it abounds in archetypal Gothic images that appeal to readers subliminally; it shares with other Southern Gothic works the significant elements of both Southern and Gothic setting (bells, darkness, wind, a decaying mansion, labyrinths, an abyss, and eerie music), a quest, imprisonment, a ghost, and themes of isolation and fear of annihilation (Unrue 48).

The interpretation that this is an autobiographical novel runs through most criticism, for it is clear that much of the story of Eugene Gant parallels events in Wolfe's life, and more importantly that the development of Gant as an art...

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eugene Grant of Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:45, August 19, 2017, from
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