Wolfe, Thomas, O Lost, A Story of the Buried Life, published 2000, was the original version of Look Homeward, Angel, which was published 1929. It has long been accepted as fixed knowledge and endlessly repeated that Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), though a great prose writer, produced work that was so chaotic that it could only be made useful by a skilled editor, the editor being Maxwell Perkins of Scribner’s. This impression was assiduously spread by Perkins, who also claimed some credit for the writings of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The “fixed knowledge” is false!
This was proved when the literary scholars Arlyn and Mathew J. Bruccoli published Wolfe’s original manuscript in 2000. It is evident that Wolfe’s work was deep in conception and epic in scope, beginning with the main character Eugene Gant’s uncle as a Confederate private at Gettysburg. What Perkins did was convert Wolfe’s great work into Look Homeward, Angel, a rather adolescent story of dreary town life in the early 20th century South.