The World According to Garp

by John Irving

Knopf Canada | November 7, 2000 | Trade Paperback

The World According to Garp is rated 4.6154 out of 5 by 13.

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.”

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 640 pages, 7.99 × 5.11 × 1.28 in

Published: November 7, 2000

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973825

ISBN - 13: 9780676973822

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed it 3.75 stars Jenny Fields is independent; she's a nurse, doesn't want a husband (or any kind of relationship with anyone, really) - and this is particularly unusual for a woman in the early 1940s - but she does want a child, so she gets pregnant and has Garp. Garp grows up at an all-boys school where Jenny is the nurse. He later becomes an author, marries and has kids, but he strays a couple of times, as does his wife. In the meantime, Jenny has written an autobiography and she is revered as a feminist; women who need help come to her. I think this is my favourite book by Irving that I've read so far. Irving's books do have some odd characters, so of course, this one does, too, but I've seen the movie a few times years ago, so at least I knew what to expect., and this may be why I liked it better than the others I've read by him. I could have done without the extra writings in the book, written by Garp, but I also liked that there was so much more detail than the movie (as there usually is). I was surprised at how quickly I was able to read this, given how long the book is. Overall, I really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2011-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This was my first John Irving novel and is the reason that I now have an entire shelf dedicated to him. This book is a masterpiece. Hard to get into at first, the story seems just very strange (perhaps a little too much so), but then the message starts to come through. His portrayal of our violent world through the eyes of a writer is simply incredible. This book is a jewel in literature and I can honestly say it has changed the way I look at the world. Five well-deserved stars. I would recommend it to everyone, it's a book that should absolutely be read in one's lifetime.
Date published: 2010-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Funny Ok so The World According to Garp by John Irving is apparently sooooo popular that it was voted as one of the best 100 books of the century by readers. I also was at a baby shower and one of the ladies there said that this book was HER favorite book of ALL TIME so I grabbed it from the library. Anyways back to the book, it was funny and entertaining. The end . . . I am SURPRISED it was voted to be one of the best books or whatever. I mean, it wasn’t bad or anything, it was as I said funny, entertaining and well written and the author is very imaginative but it was not THAT amazing. So I would not like run to go buy it or anything but it’s a good read non the less.
Date published: 2010-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A lovely book A famous book that linked with a movie - I like John Irving's writings and felt I could not bypass this gem. Consistent with the style of typical John Irving, he is very good with details and the telling of minute tidbits of the lives of characters. The ones depicted in "The word according to Garp" are definitely memorable. I enjoyed the "details" but somehow found the story got dragged on a bit too long. Celebration of energy and life through all the events of Garp and his mother Jenny. Oh one thing: it brought tears to my eyes when I read about the public recognition and acceptance that the character Roberta Muldoon received. A lovely book.
Date published: 2008-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must in your repertoire! "Life is an X-Rated soap opera."... Need I say more? This is a wonderful story rich with lunacy and sorrow...
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First of Irving I've Read and now I'm hooked. I loved his quirky style and his from cradle to the grave storytelling. Garp is an all too human character plagued by tragedy and I empathsized with him in every situation. I plan to get caught up on the rest of the John Irving books now!
Date published: 2006-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shocked This book both thrilled and disgusted me to no end! It was awful but for some reason I couldn't put it down! Afterwards I was shocked to find that I had enjoyed it! Mind you, I am a huge John Irving fan and most of his books do that to me, it's the wonderful, unique style of John Irving - which is perhaps why so many love him!
Date published: 2004-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Garp's world: a rather exciting place... The World According to Garp. Or is it the World According to John Irving? This rather lengthy contemporary classic is an excellent read. It follows the extraordinary life of one T.S. Garp, a plain fellow who seems to be a cosmic joke. The novel follows through Garp's existence from conception to annihilation in an intelligent and witty style that seems to keep winking an eye at the reader. Garp is a novelist who doesn't believe in biography. So, is Irving also in denial of biography? Hmm... After the book is closed, you will wish you hadn't read it quite so fast. The characters will keep popping into your head and you will wonder where they are now. Too bad there isn't an epilogue to the epilogue! Pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2001-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of My Faves! A couple of years ago I saw the movie with Robin Williams in it and I found out it was a novel. A couple of days ago I decided to buy the novel. It's the best 600 pages I have read in a long time. I have also read A Prayer for Owen Meany and the 158-Pound Marriage. This book was great. I loved every page of it.
Date published: 2001-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truely Amazing! John Irving is an amazing author. I've read three of his books - this one, The Water Method Man and A Widow For One Year. All of which I couldn't put down untill I finished reading every single word. This book and The Water Method Man, I laughed out loud while reading! See for yourself!
Date published: 2000-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read! This is the second John Irving book I have read - the Cider House Rules being the first - and I loved it. It kept me totally enthralled and I finished the book in no time. The ideas brought forth in this novel were astonishing and sometimes mind boggling. John Irving is a master storyteller and I will definitely be reading more of his work.
Date published: 2000-07-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome! This is the first Irving book I have picked up, and I am completely in awe. The imagination behind this man is incredible... his characters are extremely intriguing. Garp is someone that we all in some way want to be like. Very cool book.
Date published: 2000-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The World According to Garp Extravagant, funny, depressing - these are words that can be used to describe this novel. Irving is an amazing writer with a wild imagination. He puts great detail into setting the mood. The story explores the entire life of Garp, from before he was conceived till his death. You progress through his childhood, his keen interest in wrestling and his literary genius as an author. The character himself is simple in his actions, yet so complex in his emotional outbursts. Throughout the entire piece, Irving keeps you guessing about what will happen next, as well as allowing you to come to your own conclusions. Although I liked reading the book, I was happy to have it finished, as it left me overwhelmed with emotion.
Date published: 1999-03-19

– More About This Product –

The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp

by John Irving

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 640 pages, 7.99 × 5.11 × 1.28 in

Published: November 7, 2000

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973825

ISBN - 13: 9780676973822

Read from the Book

Chapter One — Boston MercyGarp'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 se 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
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From the Publisher

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.”

From the Jacket

This is the life and times 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."

About the Author

JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven. Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times--winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for his short story "Interior Space." In 2000, Mr. Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2013, he won a Lambda Literary Award for his novel In One Person. An international writer--his novels have been translated into more than thirty-five languages--John Irving lives in Toronto. His all-time best-selling novel, in every language, is A Prayer for Owen Meany. Avenue of Mysteries is his fourteenth novel.

From Our Editors

The World According to Garp is a comic and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation. A worldwide bestseller since its publication in 1978, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies synopsis.

Editorial Reviews

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

Bookclub 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 of the novel?

2. Feminism comes in many flavors in the novel. The most obvious, perhaps, are Jenny Field's straightforward brand of feminism, Ellen Jamesian's embittered, victimized type, and Roberta Muldoon's nurturing, female-embracing style. But are there other characters who portray less distinct, murkier shades of feminism? What is feminism in the lives of Helen Holm, Charlotte the prostitute, Mrs. Ralph, and other women in the novel? And what does feminism mean to Garp?

3. How does The World According to Garp ultimately assess the prospects of understanding between the sexes? Support your opinion with examples from the novel.

4. In the novel, we read about a variety of biographers' theories on why Garp stopped writing — and what motivated him to write again — albeit for a very short-lived time. Helen agreed that Garp's collision with his own mortality brought him back to his craft. If you were the biographer of T. S. Garp, what would your theory be?

5. Garp's vehemence against "political true believers" is a major force of the novel and he maintains that they are the sworn enemy of the artist. The Ellen Jamesians are a farcical portrayal of this notion. In your opinion, what is the relationship between art and politics-and is it possible for them to successfully coexist?

6. After the terrible accident in which Duncan is maimed, many pages pass before Walt's death is acknowledged to the reader. And then, it is given a tragic-comedic twist; Garp announces in an Alice Fletcher-like lisp that he "mish him." What was the effect of this narrative device on you? Was the sorrow intensified or assuaged?

7. The narrator's voice is ironically detached and almost flippant-even when delivering the most emotionally charged, heartbreaking moments in the novel. In what ways does the narrator contrast and play against the novel's dramatic elements? How is it similar — and different — from the voice of Garp?

8. People who have read and loved The World According to Garp consistently comment on the extraordinary ability of the novel to provoke laughter and tears simultaneously. Was this your experience as well? If so, how do you think this effect is achieved?

9. What is the significance of the meta-fiction — the stories within the story? How does Garp's "writing" voice compare to our perception of him as a character?

10. Over the years The World According to Garp has entered the canon of literature. How do you think it is perceived now in comparison to when it was first published in the late '70s? Is the American moral center much different today than it was then? For example, despite Garp's and Helen's indiscretions, their relationship is still portrayed as loving and supportive. Do you think that today's social climate is as accepting of these kind of transgressions?

11. In his afterword, John Irving admits to having been "positively ashamed of how much lust was in the book. Indeed, every character in the story who indulges his or her lust is severely punished." How do you feel about that condemnation? Is the world an arguably more precarious place because of lust?

12. What do the peripheral characters contribute to the novel? Is there a common thread they share . . . Mrs. Ralph, the young hippie, Dean Bodger, Ernie Holm, "Old Tinch," the Fletchers?

13. The World According to Garp has been heralded as a literary masterpiece while at the same time enjoying phenomenal commercial success-a rare feat for a novel. What are the elements of high literary merit in the novel? Likewise, what aspects of the book land it squarely into the mainstream consciousness? In your opinion, how is this balance achieved?

14. Have you read any other John Irving novels? If so, did you find any similarities between them in style or tone?