Puzo, Mario: The Godfather
(researched by Jennifer Crist)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
The book was first published in New York, New York in 1969 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. Source: 1st Edition (21st impression) of the book, WorldCat, Amazon.com
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
Every indication is that the hardcover and paperback editions did not appear simultaneously, but both appeared during 1969. The hardcover edition appeared on March 10, 1969. Sometime later that year, a paperback edition by Fawcett Crest Books was published. Sources: Publishers' Weekly (10/14/68 pg 58, Bibliofind, WorldCat
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
224 leaves, pp. 1-10 11-154 155-156 157-192 193-194 195-227 228-230 231-274 275-276 277-321 322-324 325-354 355-356 357-414 415-416 417-438 439-440 441-446 447-448. source: inspection of 1st Edition
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The book is not edited or introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The presentation of the text is attractive and reasonably easy to read. The text size is a bit small, but the text is well printed, without smudges. The cover is showing age - it is stained and marked by library tape. The spine (and approximately one inch of the front and back covers) is bound in either black or navy blue cloth (due to the age and appearance it is impossible to tell which color it is) and the rest of the book is bound in a cream colored cloth which may at one time have been white. The words and artwork on the cover and spine are gold. The cover artwork is a hand holding the top of a puppet, with strings hanging. This logo has been reused on the book jacket and on the book jacket (but not the cover) of the second copy of the book I have found, which is a book club edition.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper used is not slick and smooth; it is thick and a bit rough. The copy I examined was from a public library, and it is evident from the appearance of the pages that it has been checked out and read many times. The paper is holding up without rips or tears, but is yellowed, particularly at the edges of each page.
11 Description of binding(s)
Front and back covers: Cream or white cloth. Front cover has artwork stamped in gold. Spine: Black or Navy cloth. Spine has title,interwoven rule line and the author's name at the top, and the publisher's name at the bottom stamped in gold.
12 Transcription of title page
MARIO PUZO|[interwoven rule line]|The|Godfather|[publisher's crest]|G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS|New York| Printed by American Book-Stratford Press, Inc. 1969.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Puzo's manuscript collection is held at Boston University, Boston, MA. Source: Gale Literary Databases: Contemporary Authors http://www.galenet.com
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Although the paperback and hardcover editions do not appear to have been released simultaneously, the paperback rights to the book were sold by Putnam to Fawcett 5 months before the hardcover first edition was released. The October 14, 1969 edition of Publisher's Weekly reports that Fawcett paid $410,000 for the rights.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Book Club Edition. New York: Putnam, 1969. source: WorldCat
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were at least 21 Impressions. source: The first edition used for this project is a 21st Impression.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Without a doubt, this is only a partial list. There are or were probably more paperback editions than were found. 1969 - Heinemann (London, England) 1969, 1971 - Associated Reprinting Co. (Lancaster, NY) - Large Print Edition 1969 - International Collectors Library (Garden City, NY) 1969 - NAL/Signet (New York, NY) 1969, 1970 - Fawcett Publications (Greenwich, Conn.) 1970, 1980 - Pan Books Ltd. (London, England) 1972 - American Printing House for the Blind (Louisville, KY) 1978 - Signet (New York, NY) 1978 - New American Library (New York, NY) 1983 - NAL/Dutton 1985 - G.K. Hall (Boston, Mass) - Large Print Edition 1985 - Macmillan Library Reference 1986 - Charnwood (Leicester, England) 1986 - Ulversoft Large Print Books, Limited 1991 - Mandarin (London, England) 1991 - Arrow Books (paperback) 1991 - Signal Hill Publications (paperback) 1996 - Signet Books (paperback) 1998 - Longman (Harlow) sources: WorldCat, Amazon.com, Books In Print, Books Out of Print, Whitaker's Books in Print, Internet Bookshop
6 Last date in print?
This book is still in print as of 1999. sources: Books In Print, Amazon.com
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
By 1975, 12,140,000 copies were sold (hardcover and paperback combined). source: 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975. Hackett. According to "The Official Mario Puzo Library" website by J Geoff Malta (www.jgeoff.com/puzo), as of 1997, there were 21 million copies sold.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
350,000 copies were sold in hardcover in 1969. source: 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975. Hackett. "Within two years of its first printing, The Godfather sold more than 1,000,000 copies in hardcover and 8,000,000 copies in paperback." source: Current Biography Yearbook 1975. Edited by Charles Moritz. New York - The H.W. Wilson co. pgs 336
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
In the January 20, 1969 issue of Publisher's Weekly there was a section entitled "Spring Highspots, a listing of about 275 leading books being published, February through May, based on publishers' own selections." A short synopsis of The Godfather is included in this section, and under the synopsis is a notice, in italics: "will receive Putnam's biggest advertising and promotion campaign ever, with a full page in NY Times' Book Review, large space in Book World, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere." One page 7 of the February 10, 1969 issue, there appears a large Putnam ad which includes many books, including The Godfather. The book is pictured, along with a paragraph about its plot, as well as this information: "Selected by Literary Guild, sold to Fawcett for the highest six-figure price in Putnam's history, coming as a major motion picture from Paramount, hre comes your #1 Fiction best seller for spring!" The Godfather segment of this ad is pictured below. The cover of the March 17, 1969 issue of Publisher's Weekly is a large Putnam ad, picturing three books, including The Godfather. Sources: Bestseller Index. Justice. Publishers' Weekly issues from 1968-1969, The New York Times April 27, 1969 edition.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A21019990302155649.jpg
11 Other promotion
None found.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
There have been 3 "Godfather movies." Puzo wrote all three screenplays with Francis Ford Coppola. The screenplays are based on the novel and its characters. The first movie, a Paramount Production, was produced by Alfred S. Ruddy Productions, Inc. and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It was released on March 15, 1972. "The Godfather Part II," a Coppola Company Production, was released by Paramount Pictures on December 12, 1974. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola as well and his name appears before Puzo's as screenplay writer, indicating that he had a larger part in the actual writing. "The Godfather Part III" was produced by Coppola as well, but in its credits Puzo appears before Coppola as screenwriter. Paramount released it on December 20, 1990. Sources: The Godfather Legacy by Harlan Lebo, Gale Literary Databases: Contemporary Authors (http://www.galenet.com)
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
(There are multiple editions by various publishers in other languages. I have listed the earliest edition in each language.) Der Pate [The Godfather] Roman. [Hamburg] Rowohlt, 1969. (German) Mafia. Kbenhaven, Denmark: Lademann Forlagsaktieselskab, 1969, 1980. Ho Nonoa = The Godfather. [Athaena] : Zarvanos, 1972. Kummisetea : romaani mafiasta. Helsinki: Surri Suomalainen Kirjakerho, 1972. Goddo faazaa. Taokyao : Hayakawa Shobao, 1972. De peetvader: het schokkend relaas van Il Patino, de gangsterkoning der Maffia. Den Haag: Zuid-Hollandsche Uitgeversmaatschappij, 1972. The Godfather. Tel Aviv: Schocken Pub. House, 1972. (Hebrew) O padrinho. Lisboa: Livraria Bertrand, 1977, 1972. (Portuguese) El padrino. Barcelona, Ediciones Grijalbo, 1972. (Spanish) Baao giaa : nguyen tac The godfather. [Garden grove, CA] : Thu Tu Zuat Ban, 1973. Le parrain : roman. Paris: Laffont, 1973. (French) Ojciec chrzestny. Warszaw: Czytelnik, 1976. Il Padrino. [Milano] : A. Mondadori, 1978. Krestnyi otets : roman. Moskva : eIiUridicheskaeiia literatura, 1989. (Russian) YaoTut Rabaat. [RAdis RAbabaa] : Bolae, 1989. Kmotr. Praha : Svoboda, 1991. Chiao fu: The godfather. Pei-ching : Wai y¸ chiao hs¸eh y¸ yen chiu ch`u pan she, 1994. Gaaodfaadar. Laahaur: Fikshan Haaius, 1996. Pidarkhandih. Tihraan: Paazainih, 1997. sources: WorldCat
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Mario Puzo was born on October 15, 1920, in the part of New York City known as "Hell's Kitchen," a neighborhood on Manhattan's West Side. He is the son of Antonio and Maria, illiterate Italian immigrants. In 1946 he married Erika Lina Broske, who is now deceased. The couple had five children: Anthony, Joey, Dorothy, Virginia, and Eugene. Puzo served in the Army Air Forces in Germany during World War II and became a corporal. After the war, he studied literature and creative writing at the New School for Social Research and Columbia University, while writing short stories and plays. In 1950, he published his first short story, entitled, "The Last Christmas," in American Vanguard. Puzo's first book, The Dark Arena, was published in 1955, when Puzo was 35 years old. The book was about WWII, and although it received good reviews, it did not sell well. The same is true for his second novel, The Fortunate Pilgrim, a semi-autobiographical novel about Italian immigrants in New York City in the 1920's and 1930's. Despite popularity with book critics, neither of Puzo's first two novels were successful enough to provide income, so in the mid 1960's Puzo became determined to write a money-making book. The result was The Godfather. A friend suggested that Puzo take his idea to G.P. Putnam's Sons after his own publishing company turned him down, so he met with Putnam's editors and told them Mafia stories and gave them his ten-page outline of The Godfather. They were sold, and he received a $5000 cash advance. The Godfather was published and released on March 10, 1969, when Puzo was 49 years old. After years of writing, Puzo had finally struck gold. He was shocked when his editor, Bill Targ, informed him that the paperback rights to The Godfather were sold for a record-breaking $410,000. In a 1996 interview with Larry King, Puzo admits that money was his motivation for many literary accomplishments in his life. He wrote The Godfather primarily to make money, and he collaborated on the three subsequent screenplays for the same reason. The Godfather movie was released in 1994 and the Godfather: Part II was released in 1974, and both received Oscars. The Godfather: Part III, released in 1990, was nominated for an Oscar. Puzo wrote many other novels and screenplays as well. His first book after The Godfather was Fools Die, published in 1978. The Sicilian, published in 1984, was #3 on the best-seller list for that year. The Fourth K was published in 1991 and The Last Don: A Novel, was published in 1996. Puzo contributed to The Immigrant Experience: The Anguish of Becoming an American, edited by Thomas C. Wheeler in 1971 and he wrote "The Godfather" Papers and Other Confessions, 1972. He also wrote or co-wrote the screenplay for the movies Earthquake, Superman, Superman II, and Christopher Columbus:The Discovery. Puzo now lives in Long Island, New York. His office address is that of his agent, Candida Donadio: Candido Donadio and Associates, 121 W. 27th St., NY, NY 10001-6207. His manuscript collection is located at Boston University. Sources: Current Biography Yearbook 1975. Edited by Charles Moritz. New York - The H.W. Wilson co. pgs 334-337. Contemporary Authors - New Revision Series Vol. 42. Editor Susan M. Trosky. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan. 1994. pgs 366-371. Gale Literary Databases: Contemporary Authors: Mario Puzo. http://www.galenet.com. Lebo, Harlan. The Godfather Legacy. "The Official Mario Puzo Library" website. http://www.jgeoff.com/puzo.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The Godfather received much attention from book critics when it was first published. The book was not praised as art or as a potential classic, but as "absorbing fiction" with "an engrossing climax" (PW 1/6/69). Readers liked the book mainly because it was exciting. Pete Axthelm calls it "a big, turbulent, highly entertaining novel." He calls Puzo "an extremely talented storyteller" whose novel "moves at breakneck speed without ever losing its balance." Dick Schapp says, "Puzo has written a solid story that you can read without discomfort at one long sitting." (NYT Book Review 4/27/69). Axthelm, along with other reviewers, also praises the novel for its realism. He calls Puzo a "social historian," and the book a fictional yet "valid and fascinating portrait of America's most powerful and least understood subculture, the Mafia" (Newsweek 3/10/69). In his review in The Washington Post Book World, Gay Talese praises the book for the "marvelous sections" dealing with Don Corleone's relationship with his family ad for the "excellent sections on the logistics of the numbers operation, the organizational structure of the underworld, [and] the roles that various people play." Talese comments on the fact that just as stories of the Mafia life are popular in the news, they are popular in fiction as well: "It works beautifully in real life, as readers of newspapers know, and it works equally beautifully in this book" (BW 3/9/69). Despite their violent crimes, many readers find themselves believing in and sympathizing with the Corleone family. Puzo "makes his frightening cast of characters seem human and possible" and the "most outrageous episodes seem totally natural" (SR 3/15/69). Some critics, such as Hal Burton, seem to praise this quality of the book. However, some reviewers criticized Puzo for his portrayal of Mafia life. Instead of considering it valid and realistic, many felt that Puzo made the criminal characters too likeable. Roger Jellinek, a reviewer for the New York Times, calls the novel "a voyeur's dream, a skillful fantasy of violent personal power without consequences." Although he states that this is why the book "is bound to be hugely successful," Jellinek also criticizes the book for the same reason. "You never glimpse regular people in the book, let alone meet them, so there is no opportunity to sympathize with anyone but the old patriarch" (NYT 3/4/69). Sources: Axthelm, Pete."Happy Families." Newsweek. March 10, 1969. 102-103 Burton, Hal. "Tapestry of Evil." Saturday Review. March 15, 1969. 37 Jellinek, Roger. "Just Business, Not Personal." New York Times. March 4, 1969. Publishers' Weekly. January 6, 1969. 52 Talese, Gay. "The hazards of great gangster fortune." Washington Post Book World. March 9, 1969. 3 Schapp, Dick. "The Godfather." New York Times Book Review. April 27, 1969. Sec VII, pg 34 Current Biography Yearbook 1975. Edited by Charles Moritz. New York - The H.W. Wilson Co. 334-337 Contemporary Authors - New Revision Series Vol. 42. Editor Susan M. Trosky. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan. 1994. 366-371
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The Godfather received much attention from book critics when it was first published. The book was not praised as art or as a potential classic, but as "absorbing fiction" with "an engrossing climax" (PW 1/6/69). Readers liked the book mainly because it was exciting. Pete Axthelm calls it "a big, turbulent, highly entertaining novel." He calls Puzo "an extremely talented storyteller" whose novel "moves at breakneck speed without ever losing its balance." Dick Schapp says, "Puzo has written a solid story that you can read without discomfort at one long sitting." (NYT Book Review 4/27/69). Axthelm, along with other reviewers, also praises the novel for its realism. He calls Puzo a "social historian," and the book a fictional yet "valid and fascinating portrait of America's most powerful and least understood subculture, the Mafia" (Newsweek 3/10/69). In his review in The Washington Post Book World, Gay Talese praises the book for the "marvelous sections" dealing with Don Corleone's relationship with his family ad for the "excellent sections on the logistics of the numbers operation, the organizational structure of the underworld, [and] the roles that various people play." Talese comments on the fact that just as stories of the Mafia life are popular in the news, they are popular in fiction as well: "It works beautifully in real life, as readers of newspapers know, and it works equally beautifully in this book" (BW 3/9/69). Despite their violent crimes, many readers find themselves believing in and sympathizing with the Corleone family. Puzo "makes his frightening cast of characters seem human and possible" and the "most outrageous episodes seem totally natural" (SR 3/15/69). Some critics, such as Hal Burton, seem to praise this quality of the book. However, some reviewers criticized Puzo for his portrayal of Mafia life. Instead of considering it valid and realistic, many felt that Puzo made the criminal characters too likeable. Roger Jellinek, a reviewer for the New York Times, calls the novel "a voyeur's dream, a skillful fantasy of violent personal power without consequences." Although he states that this is why the book "is bound to be hugely successful," Jellinek also criticizes the book for the same reason. "You never glimpse regular people in the book, let alone meet them, so there is no opportunity to sympathize with anyone but the old patriarch" (NYT 3/4/69). Sources: Axthelm, Pete."Happy Families." Newsweek. March 10, 1969. 102-103 Burton, Hal. "Tapestry of Evil." Saturday Review. March 15, 1969. 37 Jellinek, Roger. "Just Business, Not Personal." New York Times. March 4, 1969. Publishers' Weekly. January 6, 1969. 52 Talese, Gay. "The hazards of great gangster fortune." Washington Post Book World. March 9, 1969. 3 Schapp, Dick. "The Godfather." New York Times Book Review. April 27, 1969. Sec VII, pg 34 Current Biography Yearbook 1975. Edited by Charles Moritz. New York - The H.W. Wilson Co. 334-337 Contemporary Authors - New Revision Series Vol. 42. Editor Susan M. Trosky. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan. 1994. 366-371
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
In 1965, after publishing two unprofitable novels, Mario Puzo set out to write a book which would make him wealthy. The result was The Godfather, the story of Mafia patriarch Vito Corleone and his family, one of the six "Families" in New York City. The book went to the top of the New York Times' best seller list and stayed there for twenty-two weeks in a row, and went on to become "the best-selling novel of the 1970s" (Contemporary Authors, 367). There are many possible reasons which could explain the book's success. One of the reasons that The Godfather became so popular with readers is that Puzo took the stereotypical mobster, previously portrayed in books and movies as a cold-blooded killer who was only out to make money for himself, and gave him more dimensions, including a family he loves. Although there were many books and movies about the Mafia and the lives of gangsters before the publication of The Godfather, they were not nearly as successful as it was. Many of the books about the Mafia published before 1969 were non-fiction, such as The Valachi Papers by Peter Maas. The Valachi Papers was a well-known book and was mentioned in many reviews of The Godfather, but it was not a best-seller. As stated in Publishers' Weekly on January 6, 1969: "The story [of The Godfather] is that of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra, already familiar through the newspapers and such nonfiction books as 'The Valachi Papers'; here it is transcribed into absorbing fiction, concentrating on one of the 'Families'" (PW, 1/6/69). The existence of many books, movies and newspaper stories about the Mafia before the publication of The Godfather is evidence of existing popular interest in the subject; the fact that it was the first book about an already-popular subject to become a phenomenal success shows that it had a characteristic which no other possessed. I contend that this characteristic is the depth of character given to the "bad guys," enabling readers to identify with and care about them. Before The Godfather, many of the Mafia stories, whether books or movies, were non-fiction accounts of true criminals apprehended by the police or FBI, or were fictional accounts which appealed to audiences who enjoyed shoot-outs and fantastic crimes. The Godfather, however, appealed to an audience which wanted to care about the characters. Roger Jellinek, a reviewer for the New York Times, stated in his review of the book, "If you want vividly unsentimental information about the Mafia, read Peter Maas' "The Valachi Papers" (Jellinek). This is precisely what readers in 1969 no longer wanted. The sentimental quality of this book is what the readers responded to. In The Godfather, the exciting criminal scenes are played out by characters who are presented as people who a reader can not only care about, but respect and admire. The motives for crimes are explained, justifying the crimes, and the families and backgrounds and feelings of the characters are so vividly described that those members of an audience who desire more than just exhilarating scenes of violence are satisfied. This book appealed to readers in 1969, and still continues to appeal to readers today, because it changes the flat stereotype of members of the Mafia and shows the family aspect of "The Family" and makes a reader able to identify with the "bad guys." Although The Godfather did receive praise from some reviewers for being exciting, entertaining, believable and even realistic, it also received much criticism. John G. Cawalti, reviewer for Critical Inquiry, criticizes the fact that "'the Corleone Family is presented to us in a morally sympathetic light, as basically good and decent people who have had to turn to crime in order to survive and prosper in a corrupt and unjust society'" (Contemporary Authors, 368). Puzo responded to this criticism in an interview in Publishers' Weekly by saying: "'I think it is a novelist's job not to be a moralist but to make you care about the people in the book'" (Contemporary Authors, 368). This is exactly what Puzo does: his book makes a reader care about the Corleones, to understand and support the things they do, and even, in extreme cases, to desire to be a part of their world. In creating this book, Puzo capitalized on the formula used in the stories of men such as Zorro and Robin Hood, characters who robbed from the rich to help the poor. In those stories, as in this one, the protagonists do things which are usually considered to be wrong, yet their actions are justified by the characterization of the people from whom they steal. Although their actions are clearly more extreme, the actions of the Corleones and their extended family are likewise justified by the motivations behind their actions and the characterization of their victims, causing readers to both like and identify with the characters. As Barton Midwood, reviewer for Esquire magazine, said, "the author has chosen to portray all Godfather's victims as vermin and his henchmen as fairly sympathetic" (Contemporary Authors, 368). This comment was meant as a criticism, yet I argue that Puzo's portrayal of his characters is exactly what makes so many readers love the book, and is therefore a positive characteristic of the work. From the beginning of the novel, the Godfather (Vito Corleone) is not a hard person to like. "Don Vito Corleone was a man to whom everybody came for help, and never were they disappointed. He made no empty promises, nor the craven excuse that his hands were tied by more powerful forces in the world than himself. It was not necessary that he be your friend, it was not even important that you had no means with which to repay him. Only one thing was required. That you, you yourself, proclaim your friendship. And then, no matter how poor or powerless the supplicant, Don Corleone would take that man's troubles to his heart. And he would let nothing stand in the way of a solution of that man's woe" (Puzo, 14). At his daughter's wedding, "Don Corleone received everyone-rich and poor, powerful and humble-with an equal show of love. He slighted no one. This was his character" (Puzo, 14). This characterization, given at the beginning of the novel, makes it easy to like and respect Vito Corleone right away. The Don's words of wisdom and his philosophies on life make it easy to like and respect him as well. The fact that this head of a highly organized criminal Family thinks about life and relationships and shares his thoughts and ideas with members of his extended family speaks highly of him. The Don tells his godson Johnny Fontane, "'A man who is not a father to his children can never be a real man'" (Puzo 35). The Don clearly views family as the strongest, most important bond in life. Being a father, the patriarch of his family, is extremely important to Vito Corleone, and he makes this clear in the advice he gives to others. He also tells Johnny, "'Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that'" (Puzo 36). The Don is willing to do anything for those he loves, whether they be family members or true friends, and it is not hard for readers to respect this aspect of the Don's personality. The people who come to the Godfather for help are easily pitied, and their requests even seem reasonable, making them easy to like and respect as well. Nazorine, a baker, comes to the Don to ask for help in gaining permission for his employee, Enzio, a native Italian, to remain in the country because he and the baker's daughter are in love. Anthony Coppola, the son of a friend of Corleone's, asks for a loan to open a pizzeria. Johnny comes to ask the Don to convince a Hollywood studio owner to give him a part in a movie. The only request which seems immoral, especially when examined out of context, comes from Amerigo Bonasera, an undertaker. Bonasera asks the Godfather to punish two men who attacked his daughter. Although the request for violent justice seems immoral out of context, the circumstances make it seem justifiable. Bonasera's daughter went on a date with a boy she trusted, and he and his friend forced her to drink and then tried to take advantage of her. When they were unsuccessful, they beat her so badly she had to be hospitalized. Yet when Bonasera took the proper measures and went to the police and the men are brought to trial, they received a suspended sentence of three years in jail. Before his daughter was even released from the hospital, the men who attacked her were free. Bonasera feels he has no choice but to go to the Godfather and seek justice, and a reader can't help but sympathize. The Godfather meets all of his friends' requests: Enzio is permitted to remain in the country, Vito hands Coppola $500 in cash, Johnny gets the part after Hagan (the Don's Consigliori, or right-hand man) kills the producer's six hundred thousand dollar horse, and the men whom hurt Bonasera's daughter are beaten badly enough to keep them in the hospital for at least a month. The ways in which the Godfather instructs his people to meet his friends' request may seem reprehensible, yet because the favors seem so reasonable and so important to those who request them, the horror is somewhat lessened. Kay Adams, the fiancée of Michael, Vito's youngest son, expresses her impression of the Godfather to Michael after he tells her some stories about his family and about things the Godfather has done to help people he loves. Her impression is much like that of many readers: "'everything you've told me about him shows him doing something for other people. He must be good-hearted?Of course his methods are not exactly constitutional'" (Puzo 41). Although she recognizes the wrong in the ways the Godfather does the things he does for others, she still admires him and respects him for taking care of his friends and family, as do readers of the book. There are numerous incidents and scenes throughout the book which cause readers to identify with the characters and their family relationships; there are too many to mention them in all in an essay such as this one. For instance, many times the Vito and his sons have conversations or disagreements which may differ from the average reader's in subject, yet the tone of the father-son relationship is something which many readers can undoubtedly relate to. The sons both worship and resent their father, desiring to be just like him, desiring to be nothing like him, and desiring to be better than he is, all at the same time. One specific example of an incident which makes the average reader identify with these characters is the family's reaction when Vito is shot and is in the hospital- the family's world falls apart, and the members have to pull together. Michael, the son who wants nothing to do with the "family business," drops everything when he finds out what has happened, and immediately rushes to the family home. Like any family, the disagreements and differences of family members are put aside when a tragedy must be faced, and this is a situation which many readers relate to easily. The hypothesis that the popularity of the book is due to the ability of readers to identify with and care about the members of the Mafia is clearly only one of many possible explanations for the popularity of the book. One thing which is certain, however, is the lasting impact the book has had on American culture. The book was not only a hit in 1969, but it has continues to influence books and movies today. The book spawned three movies, all of which Mario Puzo had a hand in writing and many books about the making of the movies and the writing of the book. The number of fictional books about the Mafia has risen significantly since the publication of The Godfather, as evidenced by a search on Amazon.com, and the number of "gangster movies" nominated for Academy Awards has risen since the release of the first Godfather movie in 1972. That movie, which is based closely on the book (many scenes and much dialogue came directly from the book) has also been mentioned, referred to, and/or parodied in countless subsequent and contemporary movies, such as "You've Got Mail," "Analyze This" and "Mafia!" Regardless of the reason, there can be no doubt that both the subject and the style of Puzo's novel appealed to American audiences when it was published, and continues to appeal to millions today. Works Cited: "Amazon.com" http://www.amazon.com Contemporary Authors - New Revision Series Vol. 42. Editor Susan M. Trosky. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan: 1994. 366-371 Jellinek, Roger. "Just Business, Not Personal." New York Times. March 4, 1969. Publishers' Weekly. January 6, 1969. 52 Puzo, Mario. The Godfather. G. P. Putnam's Sons. New York: 1969.
Supplemental Material
The spine of the first edition
The book jacket of the 1st edition
The Literary Guild Ad on page 48 of The New York Times Book Review on April 27, 1969
The Putnam ad on the cover of the 3/17/69 issue of Publisher's Weekly
The full page Putnam ad on page 7 of the 2/10/69 issue of Publisher's Weekly.
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