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.
About the Author
Newton Booth Tarkington(July 29, 1869 - May 19, 1946) was an Americannovelistanddramatistbest known for his novels The Magnificent AmbersonsandAlice Adams. He is, withWilliam FaulknerandJohn Updike, one of only three novelists to win thePulitzer Prize for Fictionmore than once. Tarkington was one of the more popular American novelists of his time. HisThe Two VanrevelsandMary's Neckappeared on the annual best-seller lists a total of nine times. ThePenrodnovels depict a typical upper-middle class American boy of 1910 vintage, revealing a fine, bookish sense of American humor. At one time, hisPenrodseries was as well known asHuckleberry FinnbyMark Twain. Much of Tarkington's work consists of satirical and closely observed studies of the American class system and its foibles. He himself came from apatricianMidwesternfamily that lost much of its wealth after thePanic of 1873. Today, he is best known for his novelThe Magnificent Ambersons, whichOrson Wellesfilmed in 1942. The second volume in Tarkington'sGrowthtrilogy, it contrasted the decline of the "old money" Amberson dynasty with the rise of "new money" industrial tycoons in the years between theAmerican Civil WarandWorld War I.