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The Graduate (1963)

por Charles Webb

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1,2103312,080 (3.28)119
The basis for the acclaimed 1967 film, this 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. When Benjamin Braddock graduates from college and moves back to his parents' house, everyone wants to know what he's going to do with his life. Embittered by the emptiness of his education and indifferent to his grim prospects, Benjamin falls haplessly into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the relentlessly seductive wife of his father's business partner. It's only when her lovely daughter Elaine comes home to visit that Benjamin, now smitten, thinks he might have found some kind of direction in his life. But Mrs. Robinson is having none of it. A wondrously fierce and absurd battle of wills ensues, with love and idealism triumphing over the forces of corruption and conformity.… (mais)
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Benjamin Braddock returns home from a prestige college on the East Coast with many opportunities, including a work scholarship, in hand. However, he finds himself wondering about the point of anything and simply lazes about his parents' home. Things go from bad to worse when he starts a sexual affair with Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's business partner. And it gets even worse when he meets the Robinson's daughter Elaine and decides she's the woman he wants to marry!

In the past, I had often heard of (but not seen) the popular movie of the same title without realizing it was a book. When I saw this title was also on the list of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, I decided I had to read it. It is a quick enough read -- not terribly long and filled mostly with dialogue. However, I really not sure why this story (in either book or film form) is so popular.

Benjamin is easily one of the most annoying characters ever written. His indecision about what to do with his life after graduating college is in fact relatable for many folks. But his inability to truly say that coupled with his lack of basic etiquette, decency, and gratitude are just not acceptable. Some authors can write a story about an unlikable character and make it work, but that's not really the case here.

The latter part of the book where Benjamin basically stalks Elaine after having had one date with her is even less appealing than when he doesn't know what he wants. He claims to be in love with her and want to marry her, but he makes no solid plans beyond that and struggles to face her, let alone have a conversation with her. Elaine is no better with her constant indecision and quite frankly the idea that she would ever consider him after he slept with her mother is laughable. She has other options than this guy with zero personality.

In terms of writing style, the sentences are short and quick with little time given to descriptions of anything beyond the bare bones. As mentioned earlier, its mostly dialogue but there's nothing especially witty or interesting there either. Probably the most common line spoken by all the characters is "What?" followed by a lot of "I don't know."

Again, I really don't know why this book is considered a must-read. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't exactly good either. I would not recommend it to others. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Sep 8, 2019 |
Although I enjoyed reading The Graduate, the movie is superior compared to the book. The vision of its director, Mike Nichols, and the quirkiness of Dustin Hoffman breathes more life into this story about figuring out what you want.
  William88 | Jun 20, 2018 |
“The point is I don't love your wife. I love your daughter, sir.”

Benjamin Braddock returns home after finishing at college where he had been a brilliant and successful student with seemingly the world at his feet and a brilliant career ahead of him. However, on his return he realises that he no longer wants what he is supposed to want and what is expected of him. Only the wife of his father's business partner, Mrs Robinson, seems to understand him and can get through his apathy which leads to them having an affair. Meanwhile, Mr Robinson, the cuckolded spouse, is trying Benjamin to live a little, to sow a few wild oats whilst at the same time trying to encourage him to date his daughter, Elaine. However, when Benjamin tries to get close to Elaine things begin to turn nasty.

Benjamin has not returned from college as some sort of revolutionary; he doesn't want to change the society about him, in fact he seems quite happy to just loaf about and sponge off it, (I can only assume that the money that he uses to pay for his trysts with Mrs Robinson comes from an allowance from his parents) . Instead he realises that it bores him and he cannot find a place within it. This realisation baffles Benjamin as much as it does his parents. This confusion can be seen in Benjamin's language, much of what he says is said in the form of questions, questions that are never answered. Benjamin is able to have sex with Mrs Robinson but he is unable to have a conversation with her. This is quite astutely done by the author. In the end however, Benjamin despite his attempts at rebellion pretty well fulfils the expectations put upon him if if by a rather circuitous route.

Unfortunately Mrs Robinson also comes across as the only real character within the book. She is the only one whom seems to transcend the humdrum. On one level she appears a monster. She is a smooth and confident seductress who merely uses Benjamin for sex whilst revealing very little about herself using her experience as a weapon against him. She in no way regards Benjamin as an equal. But in many respects she is more a victim of society than Benjamin is. She is also trapped in a loveless marriage as well as being an alcoholic. She neither hates nor loves her husband, their marriage has just become a habit that she cannot or will not break. This also seems to be the case with Mr Robinson even after he learns of the affair.

This book is supposed to be about some sort of rebellion of the young against the norms of society but rather it seems to suggest that marriage is habit forming, it is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. This is a quick read and there were elements of the story that I enjoyed but I have to say that overall this is one of those rare occurrences where, for me, the adaptation outshines the original. ( )
1 vote PilgrimJess | May 22, 2018 |
...si poteva non leggerlo...e, aggiungo 20 anni dopo, capire che siamo tutte potenziali Mrs Robinson?!?
  ShanaPat | Aug 19, 2017 |
I am sure I can write a review in the style of this book. I read most of it on a subway and then on a bus. I stopped and stared at the words on the pages sometimes. Then I would talk to myself.

"Self, are you enjoying this book?"

"Why? Are you trying to seduce me?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about. I just want you to unzip my dress because I can't reach the zipper. But really, are you enjoying this book?"

"Not really. I mean it's interesting in the way that truly awful things are always interesting. But it must be better than I think because it's so famous. But no, I guess I'm not really enjoying it."

"What are you going to do about that?"

"Nothing."

"What do you mean nothing?"

"I mean nothing. I'm just going to sit here and keep reading."

"How can you do nothing? Why would you read a book you're not enjoying? What's wrong with you?"

"I just can, that's all."

"Well I don't see how you can. You need to do something. You should have a plan. A definite plan. I'm going to worry about you until you have a definite plan."

"If I come up with a definite plan to do something other than nothing, will you marry me?"

"Well I used to think you raped my mother and five minutes ago I never wanted to see you again. So I guess my answer is maybe."

"Great, let's go get our blood tests in the morning."

"Maybe. But I might have decided to marry someone else by then."


I almost gave it two stars because it was interesting in a very awkward way. But then I realized how much the above dialogue summed up the book for me. I had to take away the second star.
( )
1 vote BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
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To Eve
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Benjamin Braddock graduated from a small Eastern college on a day in June.
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"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"
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book - do not combine with the film or soundtrack
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The basis for the acclaimed 1967 film, this 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. When Benjamin Braddock graduates from college and moves back to his parents' house, everyone wants to know what he's going to do with his life. Embittered by the emptiness of his education and indifferent to his grim prospects, Benjamin falls haplessly into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the relentlessly seductive wife of his father's business partner. It's only when her lovely daughter Elaine comes home to visit that Benjamin, now smitten, thinks he might have found some kind of direction in his life. But Mrs. Robinson is having none of it. A wondrously fierce and absurd battle of wills ensues, with love and idealism triumphing over the forces of corruption and conformity.

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