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Much of The Adventures of Augie March takes place during the Great Depression, but far from being a chronicle of deprivation, the first of Saul Bellow’s string of masterpieces testifies to the explosive richness of life when it is lived at high risk and in tumultuous social circumstances. In a brawling Chicago of crooks, con artists, second-story men, extravagant dreamers, snappy dressers, and cold-eyed pragmatists, Augie March undergoes his sentimental education—an education that, though imbued with reality, will take him into realms progressively stranger, more marvelous, more filled with indecipherable meaning. The Adventures of Augie March is the product of an elegant and skeptical mind on which nothing is lost, and of an appetite for the look and feel of things that is both enormous and passionate. The result of these varying felicities is a novel that is immediate, strikingly unpredictable, authentic, and convincing.