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{Free Textbooks} The Magnificent AmbersonsAuthor Booth Tarkington –

First and last 100 pages are exquisite as good as anything I ve ever read Middle section bogs down in some repetition and tedious dialogue as the world passes the Ambersons by and they fritter away their lives in clueless trivialities Many readers will not be able to stand the uncompromising stubbornness of the spoiled Georgie Amberson Minafer All in all, what a talent for description and grasp of the novel s time Tarkington has The style pulls you right along, simple yet not simplistic The subtitle of the book, written in 1918, might have been How the Automobile Effed up America both the environment and the communal way of life Lots of prophecy in that After reading the book, I thought a fresh revisit of the famous Orson Welles 1942 film version would be illuminating, and I have to say that seeing the film on the heels of this reading changed my perception of the film, for the better I d always admired the film, but assumed due to RKO s infamous interference and cutting that the last part of the movie did not jibe with the book and was weak, but this turns out not to be true After watching the movie I was astonished at the skill of Robert Wise and the RKO editors for managing to keep virtually the entire plot, key scenes and major dialogue exchanges from the book in the film Where the film is weak in comparison to the book is in conveying how Tarkington expresses the gradual financial, social, and personal downfall of the Ambersons, including their environs and their place as well known pillars of the community This takes place incrementally in the book, so that the reader is aware of the acidic decay taking place while the Ambersons seem clueless to it, but it is virtually unremarked in the film until the final minutes, where it is very abrupt and not fully explored in all its implications Welles gets the mood and plot right, but skimps somewhat on the thematic elements.Also, Tarkington s book makes you feel sorry for George Amberson Minafer when he does get his comeuppance, even though you ve hated him throughout the book I don t get that same sense in the film version I also believe the true to my own true love quote at the end of the film which is the same as in the book is open to a different, and wrong, interpretation in the film I always thought that the film was implying that Eugene Morgan and Aunt Fanny looking dewey eyed at one another were somehow going to thus hook up, which seems all wrong In the book, it is clear that his true love remains the dead Isabelle Amberson Minafer By making peace with her son and Eugene s enemy George Amberson Minafer, he is thus remaining true to his own true love The movie seems to twist this for the sake of a happy ending, though perhaps I misread that Anyway, the film is no substitute for the book, but it is perfectly realized and cast, and both book and film amplify and enlighten aspects of each EG FYI A few of my favorite, thoughtful passages from the book I m not sure he s wrong about automobiles, he said With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization that is, in spiritual civilization It may be that they will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life of men s souls I am not sure.But automobiles have come, and they bring a greater change in our life than most of us suspect They are here, and almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring They are going to alter war, and they are going to alter peace I think men s minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles just how, though, I could hardly guess But you can t have the immense outward changes that they will cause without some inward ones, and it may be that George is right, and that the spiritual alteration will be bad for us There were the little bunty street cars on the long, single track that went its troubled way among the cobblestones At the rear door of the car there was no platform, but a step where passengers clung in wet clumps when the weather was bad and the car crowded The patrons if not too absent minded put their fares into a slot and no conductor paced the heaving floor, but the driver would rap remindingly with his elbow upon the glass of the door to his little open platform if the nickels and the passengers did not appear to coincide in number A lone mule drew the car, and sometimesdrew it off the track, when the passengers would get out and push it on again They really owed it courtesies like this, for the car was genially accommodating a lady could whistle to it from an upstairs window, and the car would halt at once and wait for her while she shut the window, put on her hat and cloak, went downstairs, found an umbrella, told the girl what to have for dinner, and came forth from the house.The previous passengers made little objection to such gallantry on the part of the car they were wont to expect as much for themselves on like occasion In good weather the mule pulled the car a mile in a little less than twenty minutes, unless the stops were too long but when the trolley car came, doing its mile in five minutes and better, it would wait for nobody Nor could its passengers have endured such a thing, because the faster they were carried the less time they had to spare He can try, said Amberson He is trying, in fact I ve sat in the shop watching him try for several beautiful afternoons, while outside the windows all Nature was fragrant with spring and smoke He hums ragtime to himself as he tries, and I think his mind is wandering to something else less tedious to some new invention in which he d takeinterest The Major was engaged in the profoundest thinking of his life No business plans which had ever absorbed him could compare in momentousness with the plans that absorbed him now, for he had to plan how to enter the unknown country where he was not even sure of being recognized as an Amberson not sure of anything, except that Isabel would help him if she could His absorption produced the outward effect of reverie, but of course it was not The Major was occupied with the first really important matter that had taken his attention since he came home invalided, after the Gettysburg campaign, and went into business and he realizedthat everything which had worried him or delighted him during this lifetime between then and to day all his buying and building and trading and banking that it all was trifling and waste beside what concerned him now The elevator boy noticed nothing unusual about him and neither did Fanny, when she came in from church with her hat ruined, an hour later And yet something had happened a thing which, years ago, had been the eagerest hope of many, many good citizens of the town They had thought of it, longed for it, hoping acutely that they might live to see the day when it would come to pass And now it had happened at last Georgie Minafer had got his come upance.He had got it three times filled and running over The city had rolled over his heart, burying it under, as it rolled over the Major s and buried it under The city had rolled over the Ambersons and buried them under to the last vestige and it mattered little that George guessed easily enough that most of the five hundred Most Prominent had paid something substantial to defray the cost of steel engraving, etc the Five Hundred had heaved the final shovelful of soot upon that heap of obscurity wherein the Ambersons were lost forever from sight and history Quicksilver in a nest of cracks Georgie Minafer had got his come upance, but the people who had so longed for it were not there to see it, and they never knew it Those who were still living had forgotten all about it and all about him. There aren t any old times When times are gone they re not old, they re dead There aren t any times but new timesBooth Tarkington, The Magnificent AmbersonsThis is one of those fantastic little classics it won the Pulitzer Prize s second prize for the Novel category in 1919 that while not exactly ignored, certainly aren t read as frequently today as the author s talent should demand It was made in 1942 into a movie by Orson Wells his second film so it does have that anchor to keep it from slipping further into the darkness of the past I guess old fiction is like old familiesNothing stays or holds truly Great Caesar dead and turn d to clay stopped no hole to keep the wind away dead Caesar was nothing but tiresome bit of print in a book that schoolboys studyfor awhile and then forgetHamlet, Act V, Scene 1I guess the same can be said of literature Most books are eventually pulped Even the good and many, many of the great ones too are soon forgotten The writer s impulse is for some glimmer of immortality, but memories and readers are damn fickle things We collectively shrug off and forget those we recently purchased, those banging the publisher s gongs to get attention, and to hell with all those public domain dead writers even if they did write such beautiful books. This novel was not at all about what I had anticipated it would be, and surprised me in a very good way Booth Tarkington is one of those names you know, you feel you certainly must have read, but then you realize you never have I have two of his novels on my Pulitzer challenge, this one and Alice Adams I am looking forward to the second now that I have sampled the wares.Written in 1918, The Magnificent Ambersons is the story of George Amberson Minafer, a pompous, spoiled, arrogant little SOB who you want to smack around the ears, and who inspires that same desire in many of the people he meets He is the grandson of a man who has made his own fortune and whose children take the money for granted and spend it But the world is changing rapidly, the stock market is full of new opportunities, but fraught with risk there are new inventions everywhere, but it is difficult to sort the ones that will succeed from the ones that won t and you might be tempted to bet that the horse and buggy isn t going to be usurped by the automobile, much to your own dismay In short, millionaires are being made and broken and the city is spreading outward, spurred bymobility, and the influence of a single family is being diminished with the spread But automobiles have come, and they bring a greater change in our life than most of us suspect They are here, and almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring They are going to alter war, and they are going to alter peace I think men s minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles just how, though, I could hardly guess But you can t have the immense outward changes that they will cause without some inward ones, and it may be that George is right, and that the spiritual alteration will be bad for us.Substitute computer for automobile and you will see that we have witnessed the same kind of society change in our lifetimes I m not sure whether that comforts me or not, but it does put a different perspective on what I sometimes view as the out of control progress of our world, the progress that doesn t stop to consider the harm that might be done along with the advancement.There was so much here that I could relate to our own lives and times Our economy is a shifting sand and technology did to many industries, two of which were my own mainstay, exactly what the auto did to horses.The hubris of those who have inherited wealth, instead of earned wealth, is not something that has changed much either, and I could identify with the thrifty older people, who were viewed as miserly because they wanted their children to hold on to a little of the wealth instead of treating it like a well that could not go dry.George is an enigma, in a way He is arrogant and self centered, but he is also proud and intelligent He could do something with his life, had all the people in his family not treated him like he was a crown prince Everyone suffers the consequences of the man they have created from the overindulged boy In this world where we are always trying to buy our childrenthings , I believe there is some good advice on child rearing in these pages, as well It s been the same all his life everything he did was noble and perfect He had a domineering nature to begin with, and she let it go on, and fostered it till it absolutely ruled her I never saw a plainer case of a person s fault making them pay for having it You don t want to like George, but at some point you do, because you feel sorry for him, knowing he is never going to build happiness without laying a solid foundation but foundations are not something he thinks he needs, he believes his grandfather has laid a foundation that will support him forever Of all the people who do not see George clearly, George is the worst offender He never sees himself as he is and never stops to consider that noble and perfect might not be the adjectives that most people would readily apply to him.I loved this quote, Eugene speaking of George That s one of the greatest puzzles of human vanity, dear and I don t pretend to know the answer In all my life, the most arrogant people that I ve known have been the most sensitive The people who have done the most in contempt of other people s opinion, and who consider themselves the highest above it, have been the most furious if it went against them Arrogant and domineering people can t stand the least, lightest, faintest breath of criticism It just kills them.Confess, you know someone like this, don t you I think all of us do.I could go on quoting this book endlessly I marked dozens of passages I will not do thatI will only suggest that you might find it an interesting read if you have any empty space on your TBR When I started writing this review, I had decided I was giving this a 4 star rating by the time I got to this point, I realized I really thought it was an amazing book and that it deserved all 5 stars I like a book that makes me think of things that go beyond the story itself, a book in which the characters are drawn clearly as individuals, but have that element that can make them stand for a society as a whole or a segment thereof I think the Pulitzer committee got this one rightthey don t always do that. Not a memorable story Descriptions were good but this one wasn t for me. At this link Diane, Leslie and I have shared our thoughts as we all read it at the same time There are two reasons to read this book, no three I wanted to test the author I had not read him before, and it is considered a classic Secondly it draws a picture of a time and place Midwestern America at the turn of the 20th Century Industrialization, railroads, cars and new opportunities to make something of yourself even if you are not born into wealth Thirdly, by looking at George Amberson Minafer, the grandson of the town s most prominent citizen and its founder, we can observe the socio economic repercussions of the era on a personal level The wealthy, the renowned, the privileged, what happened to them with the changed times The book was first published in 1918 Booth Tarkingtonshows that he was prescient of what was to come We see this through what some of the characters say I am thinking of Eugene Morgan he saw with foresight both the money that could be made through horseless wagons and the changes, both good and bad, that they would bring.A word about character portrayals and family relationships You could label this as a novel of the genre dysfunctional families , here a dysfunctional family of the early 1900s What happens when a mother has only one child and she sacrifices all for him It s a boy, namely the above named George At the beginning the characters feel two dimensional Personification rather flat, but pay attention Watch what is happening At the start George is pampered, arrogant, over bearing, domineering, despicable in all respects Will he change Will he get his comeuppance There is heavy foreshadowing The book is easy to read and has little extraneous information The audiobook narration by Peter Berkrot is very good He definitely does dramatize, but he does it well and in all the right places It is easy to follow It is rather trying though to listen to family arguments with one person yelling at another, with bouts of rampant crying on an audiobbok Beware Well done, but unpleasant nevertheless What I noted was that the dialogs were amazingly good You ve heard arguments You know the nasty things people say I am glad I read the book I am glad I tested the author I think it takes the socio economic changes of the era and shows on a personal level how people reacted,specifically how those who had before stood on the top rung of the ladder felt when they tumbled down However, it is just that I was always observing I was not there I remained a spectator even during those unpleasant squabbles. The Magnificent Ambersons transported me to a mid western town in the early 1900s at the dawn of the industrial age As automobiles begin to appear, as soft black coal pollutes the avenues, the most prominent family in town the Ambersons are forced to change The reader feels little sympathy for George or his mother George s mother is blinded by love for her son and creates a spoiled, self centered boy and man George for most of the novel is an unlikable combination of privilege, delusion and snobbery But I didn t need to like George to be riveted by his story The ending is rushed and felt almost tacked on otherwise I enjoyed every page of this novel or rather every word I listened to an excellent audio rendition by Geoffrey Blaisdell. Wow, just wow This is what writing is supposed to be, although I m having a terrible time putting my feelings into words I loved the way the author used spoiled, self centered George to show the reader the changes brought about by modern inventions and industrial growth, instead of telling us about these changes How refreshing I did like George a lot, but there were things he did to try to stop those changes in his life, to the point of alienating those he loved most, things that just make you beg for comeuppance day but when that comes oh sniff.Does he get a happy ending No, I m not telling but I loved itHer eyes would look wistful noHave some tissue handy Booth Tarkington is an author I somehow missed in my school years, and only stumbled upon him whilst shopping the free classics onlast year where it languished with all those other classics I d downloaded, but thumbs up to the hardworking ladies at Legacy Romance for hunting down these older classics, spiffing them up and giving them a new lease on life in the digital world I very much appreciated the addition of a write up on the author, a glossary of terms used in the book and the period images at the end My copy did have a few formatting errors, but I ve been told those are being corrected for the final copy Five big stars for this one don t miss it.Advance copy provided by Legacy Romance, thank you. Virtually Booth Tarkington s only novel not a juvenile what 1919 called today s YA , THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS is probably his finest of all, and certainly his fullest Narrated in retrospect flashback from the viewpoint of an Indianapolis like Midwestern city, it tells the tale of the decline and fall of the Amberson clan, who made their haul in real estate and business, only to fall prey to rapid industrialization and the overweening snottiness of that gleaming heir, young Georgie Minafer Poignant and very useful as a study of American s and social change Most American cinemaphiles know that Orson Welles 1942 movie was good, but a bit of a hack job due to studio interference I d advise seeing it anyway, but reading this novel in full You might indeed find it a worthy American counterpart to Thomas Mann s BUDDENBROOKS Note to reader Please buy or borrow an unexpurgated version of AMBERSONS By way of comparison, CreateSpace, according to its listing, has fewer than half the number of pages of the edition pictured above Kindle 292 pp , or the BN paperback version that I read below , with a flat 300 pagesImage courtesy Winner Of The Pulitzer Prize When It Was First Published In , The Magnificent Ambersons Chronicles The Changing Fortunes Of Three Generations Of An American Dynasty The Protagonist Of Booth Tarkington S Great Historical Drama Is George Amberson Minafer, The Spoiled And Arrogant Grandson Of The Founder Of The Family S Magnificence Eclipsed By A New Breed Of Developers, Financiers, And Manufacturers, This Pampered Scion Begins His Gradual Descent From The Midwestern Aristocracy To The Working Class Today The Magnificent Ambersons Is Best Known Through TheOrson Welles Movie, But As The Critic Stanley Kauffmann Noted, It Is High Time That The Novel Appear Again, To Stand Outside The Force Of Welles S Genius, Confident In Its Own Right The Magnificent Ambersons Is Perhaps Tarkington S Best Novel, Judged Van Wyck Brooks It Is A Typical Story Of An American Family And Town The Great Family That Locally Ruled The Roost And Vanished Virtually In A Day As The Town Spread And Darkened Into A City This Novel No Doubt Was A Permanent Page In The Social History Of The United States, So Admirably Conceived And Written Was The Tale Of The Amber Sons, Their House, Their Fate And The Growth Of The Community In Which They Were Submerged In The End Booth Tarkington , A Prolific Writer Who Achieved Overnight Success With His First Novel, The Gentleman From Indiana, Is Perhaps Best Remembered As The Author Of The Popular Penrod Adventures And SeventeenHe Was Awarded A Second Pulitzer Prize For The Novel Alice Adams It always cracks me up that this is the 100th book on the Modern Library top 100 list I haven t actually read very many books on that list, but I m always proud of the fact that I ve read the one that just barely made it.