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The Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library Series)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2005

    A Stunning Portrait

    I came across this book from its placement on the Modern Library's Top 100 list (and it barely made it on!). When I first set out to read this book, I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I was quite dreading the task. However, I was quickly proven wrong. This is one of the absolute best novels I have ever read. The book is somewhat a portrait of young love, youthful arrogance, and the moral degeneration caused by old wealth. Yet it is also an interesting portrait of the typical forgotten American Industrial city -- Gary, Indiana; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Sandusky, Ohio come to mind. In fact, it was among these cities, in their prime and on the verge of their downfall, that Booth Tarkington matured. In this way, one supposes, the novel is not the story of George Minafer and his family, but the story of Anytown, USA, falling out of date vicariously through its ancient wealth. Tarkington was prophetic in his portrait. The decline of the Amberson wealth usurped by the Automotive industry is a direct parallel to what would happen not so much later in the century with the export of American labor. Certainly this novel speaks volumes about life: not just of the wealthy, but implicitly about the working class.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2012

    Classic

    A slow paced, mid-Western town governed by a dominent wealthy family transforms into a large industrial city. The novel focuses on George Amberson, a member of the dominent family, as he watches progress steamroll his family and what he holds valuable.

    George Amberson is not a heroic figure, but an arrogant, contentious person who expects the world to revolve around him. Interestingly, instead of being a flawed hero, he is more of a flawed anti-hero - a dislikable individual who has his redeeming characteristics.

    The book is a monumental work charting the industrialization of America. My only misgiving is that the book would have been better if it had ended about ten pages earlier (and a NY Times review written when it was published harped upon just this point). Still, very much worth reading.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Touches the spirit and soul

    Not until the very last paragraph does the reader finally understand and feel the force of how beautiful a novel this realliy is about an un-selfaware young man who finally gets his comeuppance but also learns the true meanimg of forgiveness. Diction is rather 19th century but nonetheless effective.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001

    We caught this classic in the nick of time!

    'The Magnificent Ambersons' just barely made it onto the Modern Library's list of the 20th century's best 100 novels. Thank heaven! This is a well told tale with a real tragic dimension about families who fly too high and get their wings clipped by changing fortunes. One can imagine Hawthorne writing this novel if he had lived another 75 years. Orson Welles made a hell of a good movie from it, too. One criticism of the book is that, other than bratty George, the characters aren't well developed. (In his day, Tarkington specialized in portrayals of adolescents in books like 'Penrod' and 'Seventeen'.) But what the book may lack in character development it more than makes up in mood and history, particularly the changing face of 20th-century technology and the impact it had on the Amberson family. Sure, there were modern conveniences, but during the scope of this novel the Amberson house went from a country setting to nice neighborhood to industrial slum almost before the family knew what was happening (watch for some interesting industrial symbolism, the job adult George is forced to take, for example). I think people who read the novel will be glad they did.

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