You Can't Go Home Again

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Novel by Thomas Wolfe, published in 1940. It is a sequel to The Web and the Rock.

George Webber, aged 29, returns to New York City from his emotional residence in Germany to resume his love affair with Esther Jack, the older, married, wealthy society woman who is an acclaimed stage designer. George also returns to an earlier life when he revisits his hometown of Libya Hill in the Southern state of Old Catawba to attend the funeral of his Aunt Joyner, who reared him after his father deserted the family and his mother died. But he sees how much his childhood world has changed as the townspeople are intent on making money during boom times to such an extent that even a leading citizen like Judge Rumford Bland takes usurious advantage of black people to become rich but morally bankrupt. Returning to New York, George falls prey to social lion hunters when his novel is published as a great success. Disaffected by both worlds, he becomes a recluse in Brooklyn, trying unsuccessfully to write a second novel, then flees to London and to Germany. But everywhere George is disillusioned, by contemporary values in the U.S., by the sterility and frustration of its most famous author, and by the evil he discerns in the rise of Nazism. Even upon his return to New York George can find no surcease and breaks with Fox Edwards, the brilliant editor who had helped to shape his novel, accusing him of fatalistically accepting the world as it is, while George declares that although “I believe that we are lost here in America, … I believe we shall be found.”

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Thomas Wolfe (1900—1938) American novelist

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