The World According to Garp: A Novel

The World According to Garp: A Novel

by John Irving

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Overview

Now available as an ebook for the first time ever in America, the bestselling coming-of-age classic novel by John Irving—the 40th anniversary edition with a new introduction by the author. 

“He is more than popular. He is a Populist, determined to keep alive the Dickensian tradition that revels in colorful set pieces...and teaches moral lessons.”—The New York Times 


The opening sentence of John Irving’s breakout novel The World According to Garp signals the start of sexual violence, which becomes increasingly political. “Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.” Jenny is an unmarried nurse; she becomes a single mom and a feminist leader, beloved but polarizing. Her son, Garp, is less beloved, but no less polarizing. 

From the tragicomic tone of its first sentence to its mordantly funny last line—“we are all terminal cases”—The World According to Garp maintains a breakneck pace. The subject of sexual hatred—of intolerance of sexual minorities and differences—runs the gamut of “lunacy and sorrow.” Winner of the National Book Award, Garp is a comedy with forebodings of doom. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries—with more than ten million copies in print—Garp is the precursor of John Irving’s later protest novels.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524744809
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/25/2018
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 60,456
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

John Irving, born in Exeter, New Hampshire, published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, when he was twenty-six. His most popular novel worldwide is A Prayer for Owen Meany, published in 1989. In 2000, Mr. Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2013, he won the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction for In One Person. In 2018, he was the recipient of a Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Distinguished Achievement. Mr. Irving competed as a wrestler for twenty years and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven. He is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. John Irving lives in Toronto.

Hometown:

Vermont

Date of Birth:

March 2, 1942

Place of Birth:

Exeter, New Hampshire

Education:

B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1965; also studied at University of Vienna; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967

Read an Excerpt

BOSTON MERCY

Garp's mother Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater. This was shortly after the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and people were being tolerant of soldiers, because suddenly everyone was a soldier, but jenny Fields was quite firm in her intolerance of the behavior of men in general and soldiers in particular. In the movie theater she had to move three times, but each time the soldier moved closer to her until she was sitting against the musty wall, her view of the newsreel almost blocked by some silly colonnade, and she resolved she would not get up and move again. The soldier moved once more and sat beside her.

jenny was twenty-two. She had dropped out of college almost as soon as she'd begun, but she had finished her nursing-school program at the head of her class and she enjoyed being a nurse. She was an athletic-looking young woman who always had high color in her cheeks; she had dark, glossy hair and what her mother called a mannish way of walking (she swung her arms), and her rump and hips were so slender and hard that, from behind, she resembled a young boy. In jenny's opinion, her breasts were too large; she thought the ostentation of her bust made her look "cheap and easy."

She was nothing of the kind. In fact, she had dropped out of college when she suspected that the chief purpose of her parents' sending her to Wellesley had been to have her dated by and eventually mated to some well-bred man. The recommendation of Wellesley had come from her older brothers, who had assured her parents that Wellesley women were not thought of loosely and were considered high in marriage potential. jennyfelt that her education was merely a polite way to bide time, as if she were really a cow, being prepared only for the insertion of the device for artificial insemination.

Her declared major had been English literature, but when it seemed to her that her classmates were chiefly concerned with acquiring the sophistication and the poise to deal with men, she had no trouble leaving literature for nursing. She saw nursing as something that could be put into immediate practice, and its study had no ulterior motive that jenny could see (later she wrote, in her famous autobiography, that too many nurses put themselves on display for too many doctors; but then her nursing days were over).

She liked the simple, no-nonsense uniform; the blouse of the dress made less of her breasts; the shoes were comfortable, and suited to her fast pace of walking. When she was at the night desk, she could still read. She did not miss the young college men, who were sulky and disappointed if you wouldn't compromise yourself, and superior and aloof if you would. At the hospital she saw more soldiers and working boys than college men, and they were franker and less pretentious in their expectations; if you compromised yourself a little, they seemed at least grateful to see you again. Then, suddenly, everyone was a soldier-and full of the self-importance of college boys-and jenny Fields stopped having anything to do with men. "My mother," Garp wrote, "was a lone wolf."

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The World According to Garp 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 138 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first John Irving book. When I first started, the book seemed a bit crowded with detail that seemed to slow the story down, but the style of the writing was not what made me a fan of the book. It was the characters that sold me. To me, the story was about how people define themselves. What events make us who we are, and how the goals we set for ourselves help shape what we become. Garp is a writer who is always striving to create his greatest work. Ironically, the story that gains the most notoriety is the one written when he was at his most innocent in life, his first. Life can hinder the imagination because we relate life experience to our storytelling. It fashions how we see and interpret things. Admittedly, some of these characters are extremes, but you have to appreciate the irony and humor of Jenny, a woman whose misinterpreted independence turns her into a pivotal player in the feminist movement. Each character is defined by the choices they make, the paths they lead. Although it is not the most upbeat ending I've ever read, the power of the book shows how different events have such dramatically different consequences on each person. The roles of sexuality, greatness and political correctness, family, and marriage are all explored in very real and graphic ways. By following each character to their end (literally) you can appreciate how the cycle of life continues and how each character left their mark on those around them. By the end of the book, you can't help but feel sorry to see this eccentric cast of characters go. A good read.
Booklover87 More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this novel and it has become one of my favorites. John Irving is such a fantastic writer. T.S. Garp and Jenny Fields are two of the greatest characters ever written and the story is original, funny, heartbreaking, sad and, at times, horrible. I enjoyed every word. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves novels because this is a novel written for the reader.
ds1017 More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of John Irving since I read "A Widow for One Year" several years back. I decided to visit this story as it was his most famous and I recalled it being studied in my high school, although I was not in that class. If I had to choose I would say it is the best book I've ever read. The themes of life, death, gender identity, sexism, sexuality, human neuroses, marriage and family are so deftly woven into the perfect "dramady" of a story, I cannot imagine any other book coming close. That you can simultaneously identify with every single character at some point in the book (even if you previously hated them, and vice versa) is only testament to the most overriding theme of all- the world and the characters in it are ever-changing with our ever-changing perspective. As Garp's world view evolves we see that what was once ridiculous is now wholly understandable, what was once noble and beautiful, is now a silly outdated sentiment. Death is the ultimate equalizer, and hence the main theme. If we are all terminal cases, we have far more in common than we realize.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never in my life have I read a book like The World According to Garp, though luckily that¿s a good thing. John Irving really delivers in this book, even if its not heart stopping on the edge of your seat reading material, but it is a clever and accurate take on life through fictional characters 'although I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't, from the way Irving so deeply develops them it is hard to tell'. The main bulk of The World According to Garp is about Garp from the fetus to his death bed with chapters or sections here and there about his mother or one of their stories. The book begins with Garp¿s mother being arrested for cutting a soldier in a movie theater and unfortunately that¿s as interesting as the beginning with Garp¿s mother gets. Garp¿s mother is a very unemotional piece of work before she has Garp and she tend to not understand many children can understand due to her sheltered and loveless life and yet she¿s not unhappy about it. To me the book drags on and is a little awkward in places until Garp¿s birth, but its well worth it to read through it. Once Garp is born you really receive the full potential of Irving¿s writing because after he¿s born Irving portrays every emotion through the book phenomenally well and you really feel each and every emotion like its your own. Another thing I really loved about The World According to Garp was the book¿s tone. The books satirical and a little sarcastic tone really put this book on another level for me. I had never before laughed when reading a book until now, even in books that have tried to be funny I had never laughed, but The World According to Garp just communicated to me on such a level that I really laughed for the right reasons on many, many parts of the book. Overall, I really recommend this book because its pros well outweigh its cons, its clever, its funny, and it¿s an all around a good book. Although it will not be a suitable book for some ages due to its very mature content throughout parts of the book, in the form of curse words, sex scenes, and other R rated debauchery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Almost Dickensian in its breadth and scope, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP is likely to rank among American literature's classics of the 1970s. Through the characters of Garp, his family and the eccentrics they encounter, Irving makes readers laugh and cry at the beauty and pathos of human existence. Save your copy. You'll want to read it again someday.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has EVERYTHING. You'll laugh, you'll ache, you'll feel moved.. read it!! NOTHING is forced, the characters are SO REAL, it's surprisingly witty, sad, just EVERYTHING. It's genius.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read quite a bit of fiction and I really like Irving's style. He is a very honest author, telling you the truth of what it would be like to be in the character's shoes. I think that the graphic sections of the book were not too much, but came very close to the edge - which I liked. I need to be shocked and this book did it while keeping the characters real. My only complaint: it moved a little slow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book, and I was shocked to see that it only had a four star rating. So I read all the reviews, and I found that people that didn't like were offend by the sexual content. Guess what people, sex is a big part of life!!!!! Especially for happily married people. Sex is not offensive, it just is. Get real people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wasn't too enthusiastic after the first 4 chapters. Then I thought Garp and his mother would be trapped forever in Vienna, and nothing too special would ever occur in their lives. And all of a sudden, I could not let it out of my hands. It's pulsating with life, with the real life most of us experience every day. At the same time, it makes you think whether you want to be Garp, to be able to feel like Garp...I am not sure I have fully understood him, a re-reading of the book is definitely imposed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing! I couldn't put it down!
rosies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I disliked Garp; I didn't care about him at all.
agnesmack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The World According to Garp is the 3rd book I've read by John Irving and I think I'm ready to be done.Mr. Irving sure does love writing novels about men who like older women. He sure does like starting those novels well before the actual story starts, which leaves you reading 200 pages of boring drivel before you get to the good stuff. He sure does like writing about men growing up with single mothers.This all might be forgivable except that Irving is very much a plot-driven author. His writing is solid and all but it's the characters that get you through his bloated works. And when you're reading basically the same story for the 3rd time, well, those characters aren't quite so compelling anymore.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite Irving books.
mshouser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The World According to Garp" is one of my favorite books of all time. This book is both funny and tragic at the same. Although it was first published in 1978, many people find it a unique tale still. John Irving tells the story of Jenny Fields, a nurse turned women's activist, and her son, T.S. Garp. The book chronicles Garp's life from school age through his efforts to become an author and his trials and tribulations as a son, husband, and father. Irving blends humor with sadness and tragedy as he creates a unique and heartfelt tale that mirrors the real life situations we all find ourselves in. This book is a definite must read!
Joybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book, wonderful quirky characters make it hard to stop reading. Lots of action, and just when you think things are over, something wild happens. This book is difficult to describe, it is the story of T.S. Garp. Starting with his conception (his mother was not interested in men or sex, but wanted a child) and following his life through child hood to adulthood and ending with his death. The book is full of humor, sadness, sex, infidelity, rape, death, feminism and so much more. It is impossible to describe this book and do it justice, a must read.
KarriesKorner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really funny. Wonderful tale of Jenny, a single mother, who raises her only son, Garp, at a boy's school where she is the school nurse. This is a raucous coming-of-age adventure. I liked the characters so much that I cried when the book ended.
THE_ROCK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thoroghly enjoyed reading A widow for one year, so had a lot of expecations from this book but I was glad when i finally finished it as i did not enjoy reading any of it.How garp is born what his mother does, indeed what they do together in Europe and how garps married life is, its not interesting to me. The last bit is very tragic hence gripping.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Irving can be very funny, and in this novel he frequently is. The cataclysmic event at the novel's epicentre managed to be hilarious and tragic at the same time - quite a feat.The trouble I find with all Irving's novels is that he gets snagged up on issues that he clearly thinks are fascinating and he devotes great chunks of the book to banging on about them, which is fine as long as the reader thinks they're fascinating too. I didn't always, and I found myself wishing he'd just move on. And as for the wrestling.....does every central character in an Irving novel have to love wrestling? It seems to have to be shoe-horned into the plot at all costs. No more wrestling! Please!
rolyaty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My First exposure to John Irving, and I loved the book. Great humor, great style, amazing characters, inventive plot. What's not to love?This started me down the path of reading all of his books.
rayski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book about dealing with your personal fears, the UnderToad, a bit of feminism and a bit about the pitfalls of Lust. Very funny at times and always entertaining.
WittyreaderLI on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was my second Irving book this year and I really thought it was a good read. I thought the characters were well developed and likeable and the plot was very interesting.My complaints are few but: the parts where it had Garp's writings I thought were boring. I tried to read them, and eventually I found myself skipping around. This book also was very similiar to his other book I read (Even though I know it was written before). I guess John Irving really likes wrestling and relationships between older and younger people. John Irving is an interesting author because of these trends though!
shieldsk2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On of my all time favorites. The novel within a novel is brilliant!
thairishgrl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in high school and was shocked and enthralled by the world according to John Irving, a brilliant author who has the ability to find humor and compassion in the most unlikely of situations. After his unique conception, Garp struggles to make sense of the world under the influence of his strong, feminist mother.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The World According to Garp is a best seller written by John Irving and first published in the mid 1970s. I found it to be extremely entertaining and at times downright disturbing.The story spans the life of T.S. Garp and the people around him. There are three reoccurring themes throughout the book: sex, writing, and tragic relationships. From the very beginning sex is very prominent. Garp's mother impregnates herself with the help of a brain-dead, dying soldier only known as Technical Sergeant Garp. She has always wanted to be a mother but not a wife. Her child, named T.S. Garp after the soldier, grows up to be very preoccupied with sex and as a result adultery also becomes a strong theme later in the book. As Garp comes of age his mother becomes a literary feminist, writing a best selling autobiography about her life called A Sexual Suspect. This influences Garp to become a writer with some success as well. He marries his childhood crush and goes on to have three children with her. Throughout the entire plot the dynamics of awkward yet tragic relationships is prominent. Among the most interesting characters are Ellen, Robert(a), and Michaal. Ellen James is a young girl who was raped and had her tongue removed. Her tragedy prompted other women to cut out their own tongues and call themselves "Ellen Jamesians." Roberta Muldoon is a transsexual who used to be a football player for the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Milton is a love interest of Garp's wife who has an unfortunate accident when his car meets Garp's Volvo at a high rate of speed.
missmath144 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I recall, it was funny. I liked the first part about the mother the most. The rest seemed to be a typical author's self-absorbed autobiographical view of an author's life.