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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 219

Thomas Wolfe was a legendary figure in his time. Read some primary source historical material to examine how his contemporaries viewed him. For example, read The Journey Down by Aline Bernstein, which remembers their passionate relationship from her point of view. How do you think Wolfe's personality affected his reputation?

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Thomas Wolfe was a legendary figure in his time. Read some primary source historical material to examine how his contemporaries viewed him. For example, read The Journey Down by Aline Bernstein, which remembers their passionate relationship from her point of view. How do you think Wolfe's personality affected his reputation?

What do you think Look Homeward, Angel says about race relations? Did the novel's treatment of African Americans offend you? What do other critics say about Wolfe's racial views? Do some reading about the African-American experience in early twentieth-century North Carolina and discuss how accurately the novel portrays these circumstances.

One of Wolfe's intentions in writing his first novel was to create a new tradition of southern literature. Did he succeed? Read some other books classified as "literature of the South," such as William Faulkner's novels. What kind of tradition do these books follow? Do you think recent books by Toni Morrison, such as Beloved, follow Wolfe's idea of a southern tradition?

Wolfe was obsessed with the idea of "the American experience." What would Walt Whitman or Henry David Thoreau say about this idea? Read some of their writings to find out. Compare and contrast Wolfe and these American romanticists to a current writer like Phillip Roth and his version of the American experience in his novel American Pastoral.

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