The World According to Garp

Publisher: Vintage Canada

An international bestseller since its publication in 1978, The World According to Garp established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation.

This is the life of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields—a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes—even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with “lunacy and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries—with more than ten million copies in print—this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.”

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Chapter One — 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...
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READING GUIDE

1. In the preceding essay, John Irving writes about his frustration in trying to determine what The World According to Garp is about. He finally accepts his young son's conclusion: "The fear of death or the death of children — or of anyone you love." In your opinion, is this the most overt theme...

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PRAISE FOR

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

"A wonderful novel, full of energy and art." The Washington Post

"Nothing in contemporary fiction matches it. . . . Irving's blend of gravity and play is unique, audacious, almost blasphemous. . . . Brilliant, funny, and consistently wise; a work of vast talent." The New Republic

"The most powerful and profound novel about women written by a man in our generation.... A marvelous, important, permanent novel by a serious artist of remarkable powers." Chicago Sun-Times