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The Magnificent Ambersons Paperback – Jul 30 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Classic Books Library (July 30 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600968023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600968020
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)


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By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 8 2012
Format: Paperback
Although this title may be best known by some as being one of the top ten in movie productions of all time (in spite of the Welles vs. RKO feud) the book, in itself, is a masterpiece. The author, Booth Tarkington, is a magnificent (no pun intended) storyteller as he traces the lives of the Ambersons from their early upstart to their eventual and bitter end. Much in the mode of tales of the British elites, this story reflects the wealth and decadence that could be attained at the turn of the century in the US. Major Amberson, however, not only lavishly provided for his family but, in doing so, discouraged their growth and freedom as individuals.

The main focus of this tale is Georgie, the Major's grandson. When this story was first revealed in 1914 the popular analysis was that he suffered from Freud's now highly questioned Oedipal complex. A more modern reading of this book deduces that Georgie had developed a narcissistic personality through the overly protective environment that surrounded him and that he cared little about anything but the family name. His individual honor and unique standing in society became his obsession in his life. Being raised as such, these teachings eventually serve him poorly and, in doing so, he finds the end of his life in the role of a laborer in a chemical factory while continuing to support his decadent aunt. Unrequited love, life-long grudges and the loyalty to family ties are additional topics that are fluidly described throughout this fictional novel. The innate morals and character portrayal revealed here are as fresh today as the day that they were penned.......
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 16 2010
Format: Audio CD
"A proud and haughty man--'Scoffer' is his name;
He acts with arrogant pride." -- Proverbs 21:24 (NKJV)

I am reviewing the unabridged Blackstone audio recording read by Geoffrey Blaisdell. The Magnificent Ambersons can be a little difficult to appreciate because the book writes about a period far different from our own, with horseless carriages replacing those drawn by magnificent matched pairs of horses and social position counting for a great deal more than money. A modern novelist treating this period as a historical subject would write the book much differently. As a result, I recommend that you listen to the audio version in which Mr. Blaisdell does a wonderful job of capturing the mentality and emotion of the age.

On the surface, the book is all about the downfall that always comes from too much pride, especially pride in one's position. Soon, however, you'll begin to appreciate that Booth Tarkington is also writing a social history in fictional terms that captures the changing of the guard from the "old money" of the day to the newer classes of wealth based on industrialism and merchandising. You also get more than a whiff of the problems that industrialization and the automobile brought to American cities. I was reminded of the Sinclair Lewis novels that so aptly capture similar changes that occurred slightly later.

One of the best ways to portray the desirability of something positive, such as faithful unconditional love, is by portraying the consequences of its opposite, such as selfishness. In that sense, The Magnificent Ambersons is a marvelous portrait of how much pain selfishness can bring.
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Format: Paperback
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Booth Tarkingtons's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of a Midwestern town and family in the emergent new era of the automobile and modern manufacturing is surprising on a number of accounts, for modern readers.

Books written before the modern era of Television, are very wordy and descriptive. In the Amberson's, Tarkington dedicates most of the first twenty pages or so to descriptions of the architecture, the dress, the music and the morals of the era the early 20th Century. His work was published in 1918, and a reader can sometimes skip entire passages to get one with the plot, scanning here and there, only to ponder eventually, the complexity of the author's mind and intent. Nonetheless, the Amberson's can be scanned.

The Amberson's are the wealthy, landed gentry of the Era, a family whose every action is the talk of the town. Nonetheless, the influx of immigrants from all parts of Europe, and their demand for housing, proves to be an encroachment upon the family land, fortunes and status.

The book contains a subdued and very Victorian romance, but the book is largely romantic in the broader context of its meanings. The Amberson's do not work, except for such members as are engagaged in politics, and the management of properties. Young "Georgie Amberson Minafer" grows up in privilge. He is fawned upon by his mother Isabel, and although he may be dressed as a Little Lord Fauntleroy, the lad's pride and aggressiveness lead him to impose his will upon the town, such that there is hardly a citizen that does not wait in expectation for "Georgie" to recieve his "come-uppance".

The tale Tarkington weaves is one of intimate personal family relationships, as well as the bonds of old friendships.
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