The Graduate

The Graduate

eBook - 2011
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Published in 1963, Charles Webb's The Graduate was a sly and provocative first novel that is often overshadowed by the success of Mike Nichol's sensational 1967 film. The Graduate is a novel that speaks to its time: a time when young Americans were beginning to question, for perhaps the first time, the materialistic values that the postwar culture had taught them. Its hero is at once worldly and naive, a dichotomy that won't last for very long as Benjamin Braddock, the appealing young man of great promise who seems to have everything going for him, sets out to explore his world. After returning to his parent's home after graduation, Braddock ponders his future and finds himself in a state of confusion and depression. It seems the only thing that really rallies him is the attention of Mrs. Robinson, the bored attractive wife of his father's law partner, who makes a play for Benjamin who responds in kind. What the affair lacks in passion, it makes up for in intensity. The affair with Mrs. Robinson continues until Benjamin discovers the Robinsons' beautiful daughter Elaine, with whom he falls promptly in love. Driven to a fit of jealousy, Mrs. Robinson will have none of it, and she tells her daughter of her affair with Benjamin in an attempt to separate the two. Undeterred however, Benjamin pursues Elaine, even though she becomes involved with somebody else. He pursues her all the way to the altar, in fact. The Graduate takes a hard look at contemporary society and social mores, and while it does so with panache and humor, the underlying message is not lost on the reader. It is a scathing look at how vacuous and materialistic middle-class American life had become in the mid-20th century. The Chicago Sunday Review wrote that The Graduate "moves with the speed and drive of a runaway locomotive."
Publisher: [United States] : RosettaBooks : Made available through hoopla, 2011
ISBN: 9780795312007
0795312008
Branch Call Number: eBook hoopla
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital

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brianreynolds Aug 26, 2013

Why is it chicks like chick-lit so much? The label (of the genre) implies that "love conquers all" is a gender-specific storyline. I won't dispute that, but I'll suggest it might also be sensitive to history. Charles Webb's classic, <i>The Graduate</i> delighted me in part because it brought back a memory of, not just a movie and the person with whom I first watched it, but a time when anything seemed possible within the magic of that four-letter word. In 1963, it was not just amusing to watch a young man and woman bulldoze their way into a future they believed they could create based on literally nothing except the magic of that word, it was also <i>my</i> belief, the belief of my peers, the belief of my nation. In 1963 villainous parents were the biggest bogeys I could imagine. Being seduced was a wet dream, not the modus operandi of governments and businesses. Yes, Webb's dialogue is brilliant. Yes, his punctuation is careless. But, the story? While it might be less comprehensible to males of a more recent generation, it is now the familiar pattern of rom com, the mantra of a lost era, the memory of a time and an age when love-at-first-sight ruled my world.

c
Cecilturtle
Apr 10, 2010

I found this novel intriguing because of its style: it was almost like reading a play. All of the subtleties are in the dialogue, either by the words chosen or by the silences. The obvious misunderstandings in the generations, the young adults naivete, the old adults cruelty all come together to create tension-filled relationships where lies, mislaid good intentions and disillusion dominate.

I'm not sure I truly understand Mrs. Robinsons' motivation for evil (I don't think she was much interested in Benjamin) and the ending has a goofy optimism which clashes with the rest of the novel, but overall I very much enjoyed the break in tradition, questioning of values and triumph of the young. Definitely representative of an epoch.

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