Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library Series)

Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library Series)

by Booth Tarkington
3.8 31

NOOK Book(eBook)

$2.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now

Overview

Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library Series) by Booth Tarkington

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1918, 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 the 1942 Orson 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 Ambersons, their house, their fate and the growth of the community in which they were submerged in the end."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679642008
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/2000
Series: Modern Library 100 Best Novels
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 740,912
File size: 607 KB

About the Author

Newton Booth Tarkington, an enormously prolific novelist, playwright, and short story writer who chronicled urban middle-class life in the American Midwest during the early twentieth century, was born in Indianapolis on July 29, 1869. He was the son of John Stevenson Tarkington, a lawyer, and Elizabeth Booth Tarkington. His uncle and namesake, Newton Booth, was a governor of California and later a United States senator. In the essay 'As I Seem to Me,' published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1941, Tarkington recalled dictating a story to his sister when he was only six. By the age of sixteen he had written a fourteen-act melodrama about Jesse James. Tarkington was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Purdue University, and Princeton, where his burlesque musical The Honorable Julius Caesar was staged by the Triangle Club. Upon leaving Princeton in 1893 he returned to Indiana determined to pursue a career as a writer.

After a five-year apprenticeship marked by publishers' rejection slips, Tarkington enjoyed a huge commercial success with The Gentleman from Indiana (1899), a novel credited with capturing the essence of the American heartland. He consolidated his fame with Monsieur Beaucaire (1900), a historical romance later adapted into a movie starring Rudolph Valentino. 'Monsieur Beaucaire is ever green,' remarked Damon Runyon. 'It is a little literary cameo, and we read it over at least once a year.' The political knowledge Tarkington acquired while serving one term in the Indiana house of representatives informed In the Arena (1905), a collection of short stories that drew praise from President Theodore Roosevelt for its realism. In collaboration with dramatist Harry Leon Wilson, Tarkington wrote The Man from Home (1907), the first of many successful Broadway plays. His comedy Clarence (1919), which Alexander Woollcott praised for being 'as American as Huckleberry Finn or pumpkin pie,' helped launch Alfred Lunt on a distinguished career and provided Helen Hayes with an early successful role.

Following a decade in Europe, Tarkington returned to Indianapolis and won a new readership with the publication of The Flirt (1913). The first of his novels to be serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, the book contained authentic characters and themes that paved the way for Penrod (1914), a group of tales drawn from the author's boyhood memories of growing up in Indiana. The adventures of Penrod Schofield, which Tarkington also chronicled in the sequels Penrod and Sam (1916) and Penrod Jashber (1929), seized the imagination of young adult readers and invited comparison with Tom Sawyer. Equally successful was Seventeen (1916), a nostalgic comedy of adolescence that subsequently inspired a play, two Broadway musicals, and a pair of film adaptations as well as Tarkington's sequel novel Gentle Julia (1922).
Tarkington broke new artistic ground with The Turmoil (1915), the first novel in his so-called Growth trilogy documenting the changes in urban life during the era of America's industrial expansion. William Dean Howells, the father of American realism, praised Tarkington's vivid depiction of the human misery generated by one man's worship of bigness and materialism. The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), the second work in the series, earned Tarkington the Pulitzer Prize. '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.' The Midlander (1924) concludes the trilogy with the story of a real estate developer who is both a creator and a victim of the country's new wealth.
Tarkington won his second Pulitzer Prize for Alice Adams (1921), a novel often seen as an extension of the Growth trilogy. The unforgettable portrayal of a small-town social climber whose outlandish attempts to snare a rich husband are both poignant and hilarious, Alice Adams was later made into a film starring Katharine Hepburn. Tarkington's other memorable books of the period include Women (1925), a cycle of amusing stories about the flourishing social life of suburban housewives, and The Plutocrat (1927), a satire of an American millionaire abroad. In addition he turned out The World Does Move (1928), a volume of autobiographical essays, and Mirthful Haven (1930), a serious novel of manners inspired by his many summers in Kennebunkport, Maine.

In the late 1920s, Tarkington commenced a prolonged battle with failing eyesight and near blindness. After undergoing more than a dozen eye operations he regained partial vision, but he was forced to dictate his work to a secretary. His joy at being able once more to see colors maintained a lifelong passion for collecting art. The entertaining stories Tarkington wrote for the Saturday Evening Post about the art business were published as Rumbin Galleries (1937). In addition he completed Some Old Portraits (1939), a book of essays about his collection, which included works by Titian, Velázquez, and Goya.

During the final years of his life Tarkington again focused on Indiana. In The Heritage of Hatcher Ide (1941) he updated the family sagas of the Growth trilogy, while in Kate Fennigate (1943) he offered another social comedy in the spirit of Alice Adams. In 1945 Tarkington was awarded the prestigious Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Booth Tarkington died at his home in Indianapolis following a short illness on May 19, 1946. The Show Piece (1947), his unfinished last novel, profiles a young egoist reminiscent of the George Minafer of The Magnificent Ambersons.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Magnificent Ambersons 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Timhrk More than 1 year ago
Barnes & Noble must be commended for keeping in prints lesser known literary works. The Magnificent Andersons is a novel about transition. An upper class waspy family, and its place in society, is forever changed by the coming of the automobile and other industries and the period of massive immigration in the early 20th century. The main character, George Amberson, is a callow youth who becomes a victim not just of these forces, but of his own insistence on trying to hold on to the world he knew-of strict social structures where wealthy male protestants held power through birth not merit. This insistence results in tragedy, denying his mother the true love of her life and leaving his spinster aunt in abject poverty. Family love and loyalty may triumph-these are values George holds dear and lives up to-but they do nothing to prevent the destruction of an old way of life. In spite of some clunky sentences, Tarkington is an objective observer of events. I remember liking the Orson Wells film, the book is just as good. I even liked the old fashion over use of foreshadowing. Please visit: timothyherrick.blogspot.com
Anonymous 14 days ago
This book was difficult to read because there many misspelled words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
Mostly, this is a good, old classic. I was surprised to discover it had won a Pulitzer Prize, but I realize that this was written in a different time period. It is hard to read this book from their frame of reference. Mostly, the book goes along at a nice clip. The characters are well-developed, and the dialogue is what one would expect from this time period and this privileged cast of characters. Realism is what drives this story. If you are looking for a romantic story where everyone lives happily after, I recommend you look elsewhere. I could have done without the psychic portion of the book, but at least there was no sex nor profanity. I think the author's most exquisite moment was when he wrote about the changes that occurred as times changed in the U.S. and the priveleged classes moved onward. That is probably what earned him an award. And what of the story? I would say that the story is engaging enough, but I am not particularly fond of the ending. I did appreciate the reality of the story. I suppose that explains the ending. Realistic stories often have no conclusion. I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bookworm95AO More than 1 year ago
The book is entertaining and relatable. It also paints a clear picture of society during the turn of the century. Anyone would enjoy this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tarkington shows how far one young man can sink into utter misery and then rise to redemption. This book should be required reading in American high schools.