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The Late George Apley: a Novel in the Form of a Memoir ()

Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) (1938)

Remarkably, this 1938 Pulitzer Prize winner appears to be out of print. A social satire, poking fun at the morals and conventions of Boston's bluebloods, it is comparable to The Age of Innocence & The Magnificent Ambersons. George Apley (1866-1933) is born into wealth and privilege and spends his life ensconced within that world & struggling to defend it. As with all of these satirical looks at the proper upper class at the turn of the Century, I think the folks being skewered look better now than they did then. There's something to be said for restrictive social conventions as opposed to the anything goes moral relativism that plagues us now.

As George says late in life:

    I have always told the truth. I have never shirked standing for my convictions. I have tried to
    realize that my position demanded and still demands the giving of help to others. I have tried in my
    poor way to behave toward all men in a manner which might not disgrace that position.

    I have not had a very good time doing it. There is a great deal of talk in these days about happiness.
    ... Perhaps it would be better if people realized that happiness comes by indirection, that it can
    never exist by any conscious effort of the will.

    The world I have lived in may be in a certain sense restricted but it has been a good world and a
    just world.

It strikes me that the life he describes is a pretty good one and one of which he should be proud.


Grade: (B)


John Marquand Links:

    -FILMOGRAPHY: John P. Marquand (IMDB)
    -Guide to the Mr. Moto Films (Charles P. Mitchell, Classic Images)
    -Mr. Moto Movie Guide (Wld Side Press)
    -The Mr. Moto Novels of John P. Marquand
    -Mr. Moto (Wikipedia)
    -ESSAY: John Marquand, Zinging WASPs With a Smooth Sting (Jonathan Yardley, February 20, 2003, Washington Post)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ESSAY: (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World)

Also recommended, by John P. Marquand:
    -Mr. Moto
    -Thank You, Mr. Moto
    -Mr. Moto is so Sorry
    -Right You Are Mr. Moto