Awarded the Pulitzer Prize after it was first published in 1918, Tarkington's powerful social commentary traces America's economic growth through the declining fortunes of three generations of the successful and socially prominent Amberson family. Set in a fictional Midwestern town during the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries--the epic story follows the Ambersons' downward spiraling fortunes during a period of rapid industrialization and socio-economic change in America.
George Amberson Minafer, the arrogant heir to the family's wealth, illustrates the corrupting influence of greed and materialism at a time when the swiftly turning wheels of industry and commerce are overtaking old ways. Definitions of ambition, success, and loyalty are also changing. Almost overnight the prestige of the Ambersons irreversibly changes as well. An exciting chronicle of one family's accumulation of wealth and subsequent downfall, the book also paints a fascinating portrait of the forces that shaped modern American society.
The novel and trilogy traces the growth of the United States through the declining fortunes of three generations of the aristocratic Amberson family in a fictional Mid-Western town, between the end of the Civil War and the early part of the 20th century, a period of rapid industrialization and socio-economic change in America. The decline of the Ambersons is contrasted with the rising fortunes of industrial tycoons and other new-money families, which did not derive power from family names but by "doing things". As George Amberson's friend (name unspecified) says, "don't you think being things is 'rahthuh bettuh' than doing things?"
"The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps Tarkington's best novel," said 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."
Even though the story is set in a fictitious city, it was inspired by Tarkington's hometown of Indianapolis and the neighborhood he once lived in, Woodruff Place.
At once an exciting chronicle of a family's rise to fortune and its tortured downfall, it is also a fascinating portrait of the forces that shaped American society.
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One of the most popular American authors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Pulitzer Prize winner Booth Tarkington was acclaimed for his novels set in small Midwestern towns. Penrod tells of a boy growing up in Indianapolis at the turn of the twentieth century. His friends and his dog accompany him on his many jaunts, from the stage as “the Child Sir Lancelot,” to the playground, to school. They make names for themselves as “bad boys” who always have the most fun. Nearly a century after it was first published to incredible popularity and acclaim, Penrod remains wildly funny and entertaining to adults and children alike.
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From the Trade Paperback edition.