This is my first post on The Pulitzer Project.
I recently read The Magnificent Ambersons as part of my Classics Club challenge.
The Magnificent Ambersons
is a delightful old-fashioned read; a family saga that highlights the
declining fortunes of one family during the industrialisation of
turn-of-the-century small town America.
George Amberson Minafer is one
of the most unlikable characters in literature. He is arrogant, selfish,
spoilt and careless. Like the local townsfolk, you keep hoping he will
get his comeuppance.
The skill of Tarkington is such, that when it finally does happens, you actually feel a little sorry for George.
But only a little. George's remorse, when it comes, is too little, too late.
The true generosity of spirit shown by Lucy and Eugene right up to the end only highlights further what was lacking in George.
The tension in the middle of
the novel as you realise what a dastardly deed George is about to do
against his own adoring mother is heartbreaking. With each step you want
to reach into the book and grab George by the scruff of the neck and
shake him into commonsense and human decency.
As for Aunt Fanny - the
conniving, manipulative bitch wrapped up in victimhood and helpless
ignorance! It seemed fitting somehow that Fanny and George only had each
other for company at the end.
Booth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1919 for The Magnificent Ambersons (and again in 1922 for Alice Adams).
The Magnificent Ambersons is the second book in Booth's Growth
trilogy. The books are only related by theme, not characters. (The
other two books, if you're interested are The Turmoil and National
My edition of The Magnificent
Ambersons is a Modern Library one. The inside front cover has a list of
the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the Twentieth Century. The
Magnificent Ambersons snuck in at number 100!
the house that Tarkington based the Amberson mansion on - Woodruff Place,
Pg 9: "The
house was the pride of the town. Faced with stone as far back as the
dining-room windows, it was a house of arches and turrets and girdling stone porches: it had the first porte-cochere seen in the town."
Girdling: n. (Arch) an ornamental band, especially one surrounding the shaft of a column.
(Arch.) A large doorway allowing vehicles to drive into or through a
building. It is common to have the entrance door open upon the passage
of the porte-cochère. Also, a porch over a driveway before an entrance