After recently reading Gone with the Wind and The Cain Mutiny (actually re-reading since they are two of my favorite books of all time) I decided to supplement my usual fare of dog books and mysteries with selections from Pulitzer prize winning novels.
Last night I completed the 1919 winner, The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington.
Library junkies, like me, will appreciate that the version I obtained from my local library was not the pristine edition shown above, but this well worn volume, donated to the library in 1980, no doubt during somebody's housecleaning activities. Ah, the smell of a well worn book.
And what of the book itself? First of all, the writing is absolutely delicious. Almost every page contains a treasure. Here is one of my favorites:
"Mrs. Johnson came in, breathing noticeably: and her round head, smoothly but economically decorated with the hair of an honest woman, seemed to be lingering far in the background of the Alpine Bosom which took precedence of the rest of her everywhere."
Love it! The book takes place in the early 20th century, a time not unlike the times we live in today with technology expanding at an alarming rate and personal fortunes that seemed so secure at one moment gone in the next.
The central character, George Amberson, demonstrates that the trials of youth have changed little over the decades. He suffers from an inflated idea of the world revolving around him... with tragic consequences.
Another example of the writing is taken here from a letter posted to George's mother after a young George assaulted another boy (for yelling slights about George's mother).
"I trust such a state of undisciplined behaviour may be remedied for the sake of the reputation for propriety, if nothing higher, of the family to which this unruly child belongs."
Ah, my middle aged brain mourns the loss of the full use of the English language in everyday speech as well as a time when people could resolve their issues without resorting to a punch in the face or some sort of slander on the Internet.
Orson Welles made a movie out of the book in 1942. I was kind of glad that the DVD version wasn't available as I have never been a fan of Orson Welles (and this book certainly has a "Rosebud" ending) but as part of my Pulitzer journey, I am going to try and watch movie versions after reading the books.
Still with me? Here is a photo of the boys anxiously waiting for me to stop hogging the computer and get our day started.