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The Graduate by Charles Webb

The Graduate (original 1963; edition 1970)

by Charles Webb

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8712110,199 (3.32)88
Title:The Graduate
Authors:Charles Webb
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (1970), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Fiction, Coming of age, TBR

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The Graduate by Charles Webb (1963)


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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This is the story of a young man who has just graduated from an eastern college and has everything before him including a grant to go on for his graduate degree. He is smart, good looking and in an existential crisis. His parents are wealthy (obviously) and indulgent and proud until they realize their son is a lazy slob doing nothing then they get a little concerned. I disliked Ben from the beginning of the book and nothing changed at the end. I didn't like his parents and found it hard to believe that his parents would behave the way they did in the early sixties. If you think about 1963 and the author writing this story which was the post war era and perhaps the beginning of changes in family life then maybe the work deserves recognition but I really don't get why it was included as one of the 1001 books. The author's writing is sparse and reminded me of Hemingway a bit. It really was a book made for the movie even though it wasn't the author's intent. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 25, 2014 |
I confess to have seen the movie first. This is a coming of age story, and a descendant of "Catcher in the Rye", IMHO. The film was better than the novel, but each has its charms. I'd rather re-watch the film, though. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 21, 2014 |
Basic Summary: Benjamin Braddock is an ivy league graduate who comes home to his rich parents with a terrible attitude. He is seduced by the wife of his father's business partner [the infamous, Mrs. Robinson], who tells her daughter that he raped her, then he runs off with the daughter of Mrs. Robinson, right as she's about to marry someone else. (The daughter, by the way, is just as much of a loon as he is. One minute telling him that she better never see him again and the next that she loves him)

This book was awful. The dialogue reminded me of, a slightly more intelligent, Twilight. Not in plot, obviously. Strictly in the horrid writing. Now don't get me wrong, I understand what a risque and taboo book this must've been in 1963 when it was published; perhaps that made up for its wretched writing.

Verbatim dialogue example, punctuation and all:
Oh, his father said. 'Did you talk to some of the Indians?
'Yes Dad'
'They speak English, do they?'
'They try.'
'Well what else did you -'.
'Dad, the trip was a waste of time and I'd rather not talk about it.'
'Oh?' his father said. 'What do you say that.'
'It was a bore.'

Oh, but you say, perhaps the writing got better and there were only a few spots that were rough. Let me squash that for you:

'Will you marry me?'
She shook her head.
'You won't?'
'I don't know', she said quietly.
'But you might?'
She nodded.
'You might, did you say?'
'I might?'
'Is that so? You might marry me?'
'What time is it.'

The entire book is written in this dry, stilted mess. As if the scene were being delivered by some defect-ridden robots. Pish-posh, this is one classic you can skip the book and watch the movie instead. The worst part is that this book doesn't even have an ending. It ends in the middle of a scene, no - seriously, it does. Not in a fun, cliffhanger, edge-of-your-seat way either. In an 'are you serious, I just read this whole book for nothing' way. ( )
  tealightful | Sep 24, 2013 |
I enjoyed seeing this movie years - more like decades - ago. The combination of Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock and the fantastic score performed by Simon and Garfunkel, made this a hit for me and I was looking forward to revisiting this story in audio. The book closely follows the movie. Ben, a recent college graduate who has many offers of full scholarships at prestigious universities, is disenchanted with life and chooses to laze around his parents' house and have an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's law partner. It seems like Ben's life is on a downward spiral when he meets and falls in love with Elaine, the Robinson's college aged daughter. When I saw the movie, I was rooting for Ben. It was both a love story and a conflict between a young idealist and the Establishment. Maybe it's because I'm older, but I didn't find myself liking Ben that much in the book. He came across as self-centered and entitled. I definitely didn't like the older generation either, but I didn't have that same feeling of satisfaction at the end of this story. ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
Can you like a book yet hate the protagonist and everything he stands (or in this case, slouches) for?

Let’s start with the positive. The book is a quick and easy read (yes, that can be a good thing) and is well written. We’re not talking Shakespeare well-written, but certainly engaging. Presented primarily in dialogue, the book reads almost like a play.

Considered ground-breaking and seminal, The Graduate was written in 1963 and was called “brilliant, sardonic, ludicrously funny” by the New York Times. This was the first work of author Charles Webb, who went on to write other books of considerably less fame. Actually someone could write a fascinating book about Charles Webb – his life seems strange and quirky to say the least (check it out chez Wikipedia).

So far, so good.

Webb’s character, Benjamin Braddock, has just graduated college and he’s emotionally and spiritually lost. He’s also a spoiled rotten child of what was then the brave new world of suburbia, financially pampered, emotionally and materialistically indulged. He seems to want to project an air of edginess, modernity (at least in terms of modern angst), and wants to reject traditional values.

So how does our hero go about this? He mopes around the house after graduating, lolls around in Mommy and Daddy’s swimming pool, drives about in the sports car given to him by Mommy and Daddy, and has a sordid and meaningless affair with the (much older) wife of a long-time friend of the family.

Our hero is also breathtakingly misogynistic – so much so that I don’t even know where to start. His treatment of the object of his shallow affections, the famous Mrs. Robinson, is reprehensible. Mrs. Robinson, despite being an adulterous wife, is actually the more likeable of the pair. She is witty, relatively urbane, and is perhaps more pitiable for being forever trapped in her suburban prison.

Mr. Robinson, unaware of the relationship between his wife and his best friend’s son, thinks it would be great to have Benjamin go on a date with his daughter, Elaine.

Not having a good reason to reject this, Benjamin will go on ONE date with Elaine.

Mrs. Robinson has only a single request – and a perfectly understandable one. She tells Benjamin that he must not continue dating her daughter (well, duh!). Of course our hero, apparently unused to being told not to do anything that might flit through his mind, decides that he must have a relationship with Elaine and stop seeing Mrs. Robinson.

Regular dating begins and Benjamin is quite taken with Elaine – he has nothing in common with her but she’s young, pretty, smart, compliant … and forbidden. Anyway, Elaine discovers the truth about Benjamin’s affair with her mother, and naturally doesn’t want to have anything more to do with him. Elaine then moves on with her life, goes to college, meets another man and decides to marry someone who hasn't slept with her mother.

Benjamin, still obsessed with Elaine, now begins stalking her and finally barges into the wedding ceremony. The author now has Elaine ditching her fiancée at the altar and running off with Benjamin on a city bus (the bus was a nice touch I think).

Well, I despised Benjamin, disliked Elaine, and had a mild distaste for Benjamin’s parents. Neutral on Mr. Robinson. Rather liked Mrs. Robinson.

So if the goal of a written work is to evoke an emotional response, this book scores high for me. But I really hated every engaging minute of it. ( )
  TurtleCreekBooks | Mar 22, 2013 |
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Benjamin Braddock graduated from a small Eastern college on a day in June.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743456459, Paperback)

The basis for Mike Nichols' acclaimed 1967 film starring Dustin Hoffman -- and for successful stage productions in London and on Broadway -- this classic novel about a naive college graduate adrift in the shifting social and sexual mores of the 1960s captures with hilarity and insight the alienation of youth and the disillusionment of an era.

The Graduate

When Benjamin Braddock graduates from a small Eastern college and moves home to his parents' house, everyone wants to know what he's going to do with his life. Embittered by the emptiness of his college education and indifferent to his grim prospects -- grad school? a career in plastics? -- Benjamin falls haplessly into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the relentlessly seductive wife of his father's business partner. It's only when beautiful coed Elaine Robinson comes home to visit her parents that Benjamin, now smitten, thinks he might have found some kind of direction in his life. Unfortuately for Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson plays the role of protective mother as well as she does the one of mistress. A wondrously fierce and absurd battle of wills ensues, with love and idealism triumphing over the forces of corruption and conformity.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A recent college graduate from an affluent family comes of age and finds himself by being led into an affair with the wife and the daughter of his father's business partner.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.32)
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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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