The original unabridged version of Look Homeward, Angel
The editing of Thomas Wolfe's first novel, originally titled O Lost, has been the subject of literary argument since its 1929 publication in abridged form as Look Homeward, Angel. At the insistence of Maxwell Perkins, the legendary editor at Charles Scribner's Sons, Wolfe cut the typescript by 22 percent. Sixty-six thousand words were omitted for reasons of propriety and publishing economics, as well as to remove material deemed expendable by Perkins. To be published for the first time on October 3, 2000—the centenary of Wolfe's birth—O Lost presents the complete text of the novel's manuscript.
For seventy years Wolfe scholars have speculated about the merits of the unpublished complete work and about the editorial process—particularly the reputed collaboration of Perkins. In order to present this classic novel in its original form as written by Wolfe, the text has been established by Arlyn and Matthew J. Bruccoli from the carbon copy of the typescript and from Wolfe's pencil manuscript. In addition to restoring passages omitted from Look Homeward, Angel, the editors have corrected errors introduced by the typist and other mistakes in the original text and have explicated problematic readings. An introduction and appendixes—including textual, bibliographical, and explanatory notes—reconstruct Wolfe's process of creation and place it in the context of the publishing process.
Arlyn Bruccoli, an independent scholar, was an editor of the Dictionary of British Literary Characters. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina
Matthew J. Bruccoli (1931–2008) was the Emily Brown Jefferies Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of South Carolina and the leading authority on the House of Scribner and its authors. He was the editorial director of the Dictionary of Literary Biography and the author or editor of some one hundred books.
"Some Wolfe lovers believe it will prove just how funny and irreverent Wolfe really was and how Perkins, a prim young editor who never used a curse stronger than 'My God!,' got hold of one of our country's most ambitious novels and cut out its heart."—Washington Post
"The more generous expanse of O Lost offers richly detailed background information that makes Eugene's 'artistic' temperament more credible, and its comparative sexual frankness goes a long way toward explaining the Gants' luridly heightened passions."—Kirkus Reviews
"Wolfe's restored epic is more magnificent than ever and quite ready to take its rightful place among the literary masterpieces of the 20th century."—Library Journal