Look Abroad, Angel

Look Abroad, Angel

Thomas Wolfe and the Geographies of Longing

Jedidiah Evans


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Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938) was one of the most influential southern writers, widely considered to rival his contemporary, William Faulkner—who believed Wolfe to be one of the greatest talents of their generation. His novels— including Look Homeward, Angel (1929); Of Time and the River (1935); and the posthumously published The Web and the Rock (1939) and You Can’t Go Home Again (1940)—remain touchstones of U.S. literature.

In Look Abroad, Angel, Jedidiah Evans uncovers the “global Wolfe,” reconfiguring Wolfe’s supposedly intractable homesickness for the American South as a form of longing that is instead indeterminate and expansive. Instead of promoting and reinforcing a narrow and cloistered formulation of the writer as merely southern or Appalachian, Evans places Wolfe in transnational contexts, examining Wolfe’s impact and influence throughout Europe. In doing so, he de-territorializes the response to Wolfe’s work, revealing the writer as a fundamentally global presence within American literature.