Tag Archives: Booth Tarkington

Who’s the riffraff?

Broadway at night wih lighted billboards featuring George Amberson Minafer

George Minafer's different incarnations (1925, 1944, 2002) in the spotlight where he thinks he belongs.

I’ve just finished Booth Tarkington‘s The Magnificent Ambersons. This is one of the best novels ever written, and George Amberson Minafer is one of the best characters ever created. He is a selfish conceited megalomaniac who’s too sexy even for himself, let alone his cat, and he’s not even a model. Here is the guy who pretty much destroys everyone else’s life simply because he’s always right. He endangers his love interest life, effectively kills his mother, and is incapable to look forward just for the hate of one guy. He’s the best example of an anti-hero.

One of the novel’s themes is everybody’s wishful thinking that he’s gonna get it someday. By the end it happens or so it seems. I’m not so sure that he actually get it, and when he’s at his lowest he’s presumably rescued by the almost killed love interest (a girl so silly that never even realized how self-absorbed he is, and actually feeds his narcissism), and by the so hated guy -the reason why he got stuck in the past, and killed his mother.  The worst part of the novel’s ending is that he’ll marry money and no doubt will go back to his self-centered ways.

That character alone deserved the Pulitzer prize awarded to the novel -back in the day when literary prizes meant something-, but the dialog is just another great accomplishment. I only wish I’ll be able to write a masterpiece like The Magnificent Ambersons.

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