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The Magnificent Ambersons [Paperback]

Booth Tarkington
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 30 2008
Set in Midwest America in the early twentieth century, this bestselling novel introduces the extravagantly rich Ambersons, whose only real problem is that George Amberson Minafer—the spoiled grandson of the family patriarch—refuses to acknowledge the rising wealth and prestige of business tycoons, industrialists, and real-estate developers. Rather than join the modern age, George insists on remaining a "gentleman." But his town soon becomes a city, and the family palace becomes surrounded by industry, destroying the elegant, cloistered lifestyle enjoyed by the family in years gone by. This brilliant portrayal of social change in America is a timeless literary masterpiece. Newly designed and typeset in a modern 6-by-9-inch format by Waking Lion Press.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Though not out of print, this latest offering from Bantam is the least expensive edition currently available. The 1919 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel portrays the decline of the superrich Amberson family, who act as a metaphor for the old society that crumbled after the Industrial Revolution. All fiction collections should own a copy, and all video collections should include Orson Welles's 1942 film version.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Review

""The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps Tarkington's best novel."" ---Van Wyck Brooks
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars .........Pride goeth before the fall July 8 2012
By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER
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 FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars About self will, and ensuing forgiveness April 26 2010
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Riffraff!
Few books look at the decline of old ways of life the way "The Magnificent Ambersons" does. Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer-winning novel is a sharp, brilliant, sometimes mocking look... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2007 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars A tack in the balloon
This magnificent, humorous and fanciful book -- a precurser to Gatsby -- is timeless in its central meaning: parents spoil their children and children eventually must learn to... Read more
Published on May 30 2004 by Daniel C. Wilcock
5.0 out of 5 stars feeling sorry when bad things happen to awful people:
Here is a fascinating book. We start off essentially empathizing with the scornful people who look on at the main character, root root rooting for his demise. Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by asphlex
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Readable
Who would have thought that a novel from 1918 would be such a page turner? Not to generalize, but there aren't many books pre-1920 or so that I've been unable to put down. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2003 by brewster22
5.0 out of 5 stars Horatio Alger in reverse
Booth Tarkington can be considered one of the best commentators on life in the Midwest (Indiana, specifically) in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century; he observes with... Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2003 by A.J.
4.0 out of 5 stars White gloves and riffraff
I hate to admit it, but if this novel had not been included in the Modern Library's Top 100, I probably would have never picked it up. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2002 by Jerry Clyde Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Novel
Here is a story about true love. Not the cliched love of two youngsters stuggling to prove to the rest of the world that they deserve to be together, but the enduring and... Read more
Published on June 16 2002 by "mahray"
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as Good Today
One should view this book in a different light from the movie. They are both magnificent on their own terms. Read more
Published on May 20 2002 by Ramona Honan
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting look at changing Americana circa 1900
The Magnificent Ambersons is a ficticious story about a wealthy family who practically owned an American town some 100+ years ago, and this family's dealings with the great changes... Read more
Published on March 8 2002 by lazza
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book
"Magnificent" is the word to describe this book. Epic in scope, it follows the rise and fall of the Ambersons as the spoiled and arrogant George Minafer grows up. Read more
Published on April 24 2001 by Pumpkin King
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