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With an introduction by Gail Godwin

A twentieth-century classic, Thomas Wolfe’s magnificent novel is both the story of a young writer longing to make his mark upon the world and a sweeping portrait of America and Europe from the Great Depression through the years leading up to World War II. Upon the publication of You Can’t Go Home Again in 1940, two years after Wolfe’s death, The New York Times Book Review declared that it “will stand apart from everything else that he wrote because this is the book of a man who had come to terms with himself, who was on his way to mastery of his art, who had something profoundly important to say.”

Driven by dreams of literary success, George Webber has left his provincial hometown to make his name as a writer in New York City. When his first novel is published, it brings him the fame he has sought, but it also brings the censure of his neighbors back home, who are outraged by his depiction of them. Unsettled by their reaction and unsure of himself and his future, Webber begins a search for a greater understanding of his artistic identity that takes him deep into New York’s hectic social whirl; to London with an uninhibited group of expatriates; and to Berlin, lying cold and sinister under Hitler’s shadow. He discovers a world plagued by political uncertainty and on the brink of transformation, yet he finds within himself the capacity to meet it with optimism and a renewed love for his birthplace. He is a changed man yet a hopeful one, awake to the knowledge that one can never fully “go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … away from all the strife and conflict of the world … back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.”

Topics: New York City, United States of America, North Carolina, 1930s, Bildungsroman, Inspirational, Writers, Coming of Age, Fame, Panoramic, Journeys, Lost Generation, 20th Century, and American Author

Published: Scribner on Oct 11, 2011
ISBN: 9781451650501
List price: $14.99
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I loved this book. It's long, yes, but Wolfe's writing is so rich. As with Look Homeward Angel, this is the sort of book you need to read twice to truly appreciate. My favorite chapter was the description of his British charwoman and her views of the world.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book was ok, but it just didn't hold my attention. I found myself skimming over pages and pages of detail. So I decided that life is too short to persevere with this one and have put it aside for now.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Wolfe's second novel is based on his experiences in New York after his fame of writing a tell all novel about his home town. Not as descriptive or compelling as Look Homeward, Angel but still a good read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” is the story of novelist George Webber in the 1920s and 30s. Webber leaves his home in the south to become a writer in New York. He returns home once just before the publication of his first novel, only to be dismayed by the entire town population’s obsession with speculative real estate, having traded tradition and solidity for the empty promises of obscene profits. After publication, he doesn’t return home because of the upheaval his novel has caused, with what the townspeople believe is its thinly veiled description of their weakest moments. Webber travels to Europe, and Wolfe similarly addresses the upheaval in Germany prior to WWII and how Webber will never be able to return to the same Germany he has grown to love. Webber also forces himself to leave Esther Jacks, his married lover in New York, and his longtime editor – and friend – Foxhall Edwards. Wolfe’s writing meanders and flies away off on tangents – most of which are worthy of stand-alone short story status on their own – as he details social concerns in the U.S. and abroad, and ultimately what he sees as the loss of innocence of George Webber, and the world.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was the very first Wolfe novel I read; at the time, I liked it, and even wrote a literary analysis for my Southern Lit class. It was the autobiographical aspect of the novel as well as the philosophical ramblings of alienation as an artist that appealed to me.It soon led me to read Look Homeward, Angel, which I found less appealing.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Some passages are beautiful. Rich language describing vivid scenes. I just don't think I'm in the mood for such dense prose right now. I think I may try Look Homeward, Angel in a few months.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A classic story of a man leaving his home town, then writing a book about it. They always say write about what you know and Thomas Wolfe does. We see how the writer is treated in his home town once the book is published and the town folk figure out the story.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

I loved this book. It's long, yes, but Wolfe's writing is so rich. As with Look Homeward Angel, this is the sort of book you need to read twice to truly appreciate. My favorite chapter was the description of his British charwoman and her views of the world.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book was ok, but it just didn't hold my attention. I found myself skimming over pages and pages of detail. So I decided that life is too short to persevere with this one and have put it aside for now.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Wolfe's second novel is based on his experiences in New York after his fame of writing a tell all novel about his home town. Not as descriptive or compelling as Look Homeward, Angel but still a good read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” is the story of novelist George Webber in the 1920s and 30s. Webber leaves his home in the south to become a writer in New York. He returns home once just before the publication of his first novel, only to be dismayed by the entire town population’s obsession with speculative real estate, having traded tradition and solidity for the empty promises of obscene profits. After publication, he doesn’t return home because of the upheaval his novel has caused, with what the townspeople believe is its thinly veiled description of their weakest moments. Webber travels to Europe, and Wolfe similarly addresses the upheaval in Germany prior to WWII and how Webber will never be able to return to the same Germany he has grown to love. Webber also forces himself to leave Esther Jacks, his married lover in New York, and his longtime editor – and friend – Foxhall Edwards. Wolfe’s writing meanders and flies away off on tangents – most of which are worthy of stand-alone short story status on their own – as he details social concerns in the U.S. and abroad, and ultimately what he sees as the loss of innocence of George Webber, and the world.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was the very first Wolfe novel I read; at the time, I liked it, and even wrote a literary analysis for my Southern Lit class. It was the autobiographical aspect of the novel as well as the philosophical ramblings of alienation as an artist that appealed to me.It soon led me to read Look Homeward, Angel, which I found less appealing.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Some passages are beautiful. Rich language describing vivid scenes. I just don't think I'm in the mood for such dense prose right now. I think I may try Look Homeward, Angel in a few months.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A classic story of a man leaving his home town, then writing a book about it. They always say write about what you know and Thomas Wolfe does. We see how the writer is treated in his home town once the book is published and the town folk figure out the story.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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