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Legends of the Fall

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  4,894 ratings  ·  223 reviews
The publication of this magnificent trilogy of short novels — Legends Of The Fall, Revenge, and The Man Who Gave Up His Name — confirmed Jim Harrison's reputation as one of the finest American writers of his generation. These absorbing novellas explore the theme of revenge and the actions to which people resort when their lives or goals are threatened, adding up to an extr ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 15th 1980 by Delta (first published 1979)
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I Only Watched the Movie!
72nd out of 890 books — 4,992 voters
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The MOVIE was BETTER than the BOOK
351st out of 813 books — 8,482 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eric
Utterly unlike the movie – but no better. The movie might be better. (The last time I saw it I was high and I was very entertained imagining digressive counter-films about Col. Ludlow’s embittered back story and virginal Samuel’s “poetic” friendships with other Cambridge aesthetes and the homosexual or simply compensatory motivation of his avidity to enlist. And Anthony Hopkins looks badass in a buffalo robe.) For one, the movie has a better structure. Hollywood's usually harmful compression and ...more
Kayla Shifrin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony
These three novellas are certainly cinematic. Which might explain the Legends of the Fall movie, something I've managed to miss to this point. Suffice it to say, there are Mexican warlords, drug smugglers, bootleggers, and the general unhinged. Each of the three stories ends with a climatic scene where the protagonist will murder, be murdered or just shake hands. I don't care. Jim Harrison's my guy.

Revenge: 4/5
Perhaps this can be summarized in one sentence: The morning before Mauro and his daugh
...more
Jeremy
I've heard positive things about Harrison for years, but much as I wanted to enjoy this trio of novellas I found myself disappointed. While he is capable of turning a beautiful, poetic sentence now and again, Harrison's stories seem obsessed with summarizing instead of actually narrating. He tells you everything everyone is doing and everything they ever have done, ad infinitum. There is no sense of immediacy here, of the present moment unfolding in any significant or meaningful way. He tells yo ...more
Conrad
The book, thankfully, is way better than the movie. Harrison's underrated as a stylist. While he does sort of fit the Michigan writer cliche of an epicurean, hard-drinking Northman, he also writes cogently on Rilke, Cioran, obscure Russian poets like Yesenin, and is equally adept at poetry, formal prose, and, say, restaurant reviews. How many writers can tell you how to make a great stock out of leftover bits of wild game, advise you on a good recording of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and write ...more
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
My copy is a post-movie paperback, complete with Brad Pitt's young mug looming over a Montana skyline, and gives no clue, even on the jacket copy, that this is actually a collection of three unrelated novellas. I like the form: these feel almost epic in scope, just not in length.

I love Harrison's writing, rather solemn, almost elegiac. His imagery is poetic but unsentimental, which makes sense, since he's also published numerous volumes of poetry. All three stories are told in the third person,
...more
Chris
I decided to read this after Kate and Conrad had a bit of a disagreement over Harrison a few weeks back. I realized I'd never read anything by him, so I picked up this collection of three novellas (unfortunately graced with Brad Pitt and the rest of the movie cast).

At first I disliked it, but then I realized that was because I had expected something else -- I was expecting something more along the lines of McCarthy, and Harrison lacks all the southern gothic Faulknerian pretensions that I love i
...more
Христо Блажев
Легенди за страстта, легенди за мъжете, които взимат това, което пожелаят: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/l...

Три много мъжки творби са събрани зад тая уестърн-корица. Вероятно повечето хора ще се присетят за филма, аз лично не съм го гледал и четох с чист ум – и мисля, че “Легенди за страстта” е силна, но следващата повест – “Мъст”, е дваж по-силна според мен. Третата – “Човекът, който се отказа от своето име” – ми допадна пък с вглъбеността си, с пространния вътрешен монолог, който само
...more
Travis Fortney
More Montana fiction, which is quickly becoming my favorite little sub-genre. I want to read it all.

I love the movie starring Brad Pitt based on the first novella in this book. I've thought about why I love that movie. I think it's the idea that a man can win a woman's heart without talking to her, instead simply going out to the pasture and breaking a wild horse while she's watching, letting the horse brutalize you a bit in the process. Of course it doesn't hurt to look like Brad Pitt. I also
...more
TK421
Certain stories stay with you long after you've read the book. LENGENDS OF THE FALL is a perfect example. (And not because my wife has a crush on Brad Pitt, I'm giving all the credit to Jim Harrison.)

I read this book almost five years ago and I can still recall almost every moment of the story. The feelings of the vast wilderness, both geographically and spiritually, that the characters have to roam about makes me suffer both claustrophobia and agoraphobia simultaneously.

A plot synopsis is poi
...more
Paul
I think what's really remarkable about Harrison, which, this is only the second collection of three novellas of his that I've read, but each of his pieces are so rich, and but also so varied from one another. The first in this concerns a bloody story of revenge on the Mexico/U.S. border, the second concerns a middleaged executive somewhere near New York, and the third is set in Montana at the time of and after the first world war. And that third novella, Legends of the Fall, is insane. Eighty-fi ...more
Ali
Apr 19, 2007 Ali rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
The movie was passionate, enthralling, and unforgetable. The book, a 100 page short story tucked between the covers with other equally poorly written short stories, is boring, confusing, and disappointing. How anyone ever wrote a screenplay as good as the movie from this short story is beyond me. That person deserves a medal of some sort.
Darren
It's hard to find stories of the Great War which touch on it more than tangentially. This novella is no exception. This was very Hemingway, in the carefully simple sentences, in race or nationality seemingly as fitting as a name -The Mexican, The Cree... Also in the romance of the unpolished, the uncivilized. The wild. It made me crave strong coffee cooked over an open fire, pine needles and ash in it. Whiskey from Alberta. The millionth dark wave of the ocean. What it didn't do was involve me w ...more
Ricky Orr
This book contained 3 novellas: Revenge, The Man Who Gave Up His Name,and Legends of the Fall.

The first story was about an American who fell in love with the wife of a Mexican drug czar, and eventually paid a significant price in return.

The second story was about a successful businessman who grew apart from his wife after 20 or so years of marriage. Not only did he give up his name, he gave away his wealth and former lifestyle, and redefined himself.

The final story, Legends of the Fall, was very
...more
Diane
This book contains three novellas, the last one being the title story. Jim Harrison has been one of my favorite authors for years. He lives in and writes about Michigan in his stories and poetry, capturing the untamed nature of parts of that land. The Legends of the Fall was made into a pretty powerful movie a few years ago, but the story itself is even more powerful. However, the other two stories, "Revenge," and "The Man Who Gave up His Name," are also quite intense. In fact, I couldn't "Reven ...more
Laura Cowan
Very very good, and I'm intrigued to learn that Harrison lives in Northern Michigan, as this story has much in common with Hemingway's spare summarizing style and rich landscapes. That was why I read it: to learn how to write short novels with spare prose and rich imagery well, since that seems to be where my writing is headed. I learned a lot from how the author packs complex plots and relationships into dense storylines by summarizing a lot of the action and doing without much dialogue, though ...more
Robin B. Smith
Stunningly good. You must read this.

"Harrison became a novelist after he fell off a cliff while bird hunting." - per Wikipedia


Muhammed A.  Zidan
If you added it up, without her there was nothing--but with her even the simplest of gestures of walking a bird dog in the desert, or selecting the ingredients for a meal for two rather than one took on an ineffable charm.
Corina
what an incoherent mess
Adam Cherson
I rate this book a 3.53 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being best. These three novellas certainly express a world view: this is a lousy, fragmented world in which love is fleeting and violence inevitable. The style is sweeping, fast paced, and engaging. Harrison creates miniature epics, covering entire lives, even generations of lives, in relatively few pages. The settings are mostly in the Western US with some exceptions. Harrison’s characters are sons of ranchers and farmers, trying to adjust to Ame ...more
Ladory
I read these three novellas on my kindle. Usually, by the time I get around to reading something I have added there, I can't remember what the gist was so I just plunge in. You don't have the cover notes, etc. to tell you what to expect. So at first I thought I had the completely wrong author and was mistaken about reading the book from which the movie was made. Then I finally got with the program and learned that I was reading a trilogy of novellas.

The first one took a bit of catching up to hi
...more
Elena
I saw the movie "Legends of the Fall" when it came out, ages ago... Loved it... The book had the potential to be deeper and more touching (of course)! However, the book is really strangely written, all tell and no show, and it sounds like a grade 5 elementary schooler's sentence structure was used!

For example: "He spent a few months on his ranch and when he returned to Havana he learned of the death of his grandfather five years before and that his father had suffered a stroke and that he wishe
...more
Francisco Cardona
The idea of "fatality" is so pervasive in the the first and third novella that one wonders if anyone is ever in the place they should be. Revenge, the first novella in this collection, is a fine example of someone who would have had a different life if he hadn't just cuckold a local mob boss. Human behavior in this regards seems to reflect that our physical dispositions will always motivate our decisions. This is seen more in the last novella, Legends of the Fall, where Tristan, a hunts-man, sco ...more
Garrett Zecker
An incredible series of three novellas, Legends of the Fall is a masterpiece of writing about the American male experience. I made my way to this book as it is on my one of my “list of top books” that I am making my way through. I also want to note that I have not seen the film yet.

This was a beautiful book that is well written and well approached, and all seem to have the same themes of modern male frustration under the guise of three distinct stories. While they are all nowhere in scope to my
...more
Mla08080
I enjoyed my first adventure into Jim Harrison's writing, reading three novellas under the title of the most famous one, The Legends of the Fall. Each story was about 90 pages which made for an interesting new genre. Harrison's writing in these stories, Revenge, The Man Who Gave Up His Name, and of course , Legends, is descriptive and certainly alpha male. Each of the main characters is Bond-like in their actions and charisma. The stories have much more action than I usually read, but the violen ...more
Dianne Ferguson
Not just a movie! This is a trilogy of short novels--a form that Jim Harrison often uses. I refer to him as our greatest living American novelist. Legends of the Fall is the title novella but this book also contains "Revenge" (also made into one of my favorite movies with Kevin Costner) and "The Man Who Gave Up His Name."
Kris
3 STARS

"The title novella, “Legends of the Fall"—which was made into the film of the same name—is an epic, moving tale of three brothers fighting for justice in a world gone mad. Moving from the raw landscape of early twentieth-century Montana to the blood-drenched European battlefields of World War I and back again to Montana, Harrison's powerful story explores the theme of revenge and the actions to which people resort when their lives or goals are threatened, painting an unforgettable portra
...more
Jessica Marie Fletcher
I only read the first novella, Revenge, and the final one, Legends of the Fall, in the collection of three. However, I go back and forth between which one I like more. I like that Revenge is clear and chronological and gritty (very similar to Nobody's Angel), but I like that Legends has more of a redeeming feeling of what it is like to not be held down. I didn't like that legends had no dialogue. It was very strange reading like that. Reading this years later, I feel like the treatment of women ...more
Tiffany
A long-time fan of the film, Legends of the Fall, I decided to pick up the novel from which the movie was adapted to see if I would love it as much as the Brad Pitt film. I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean the short story wasn’t worth reading. Part of the reason I didn’t like it was due to the small changes, but also due to my ignorance of the fact that this was in fact a trilogy of short novels as stated above. Sadly, I was halfway through the first short story before I realized how familiar it wa ...more
Sarah R
I could only give this two stars because it was so short that I felt like I was reading a synopsis of the movie. They took an OK book and turned it into an amazing movie.
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Books2Movies Club: Legends of the Fall 5 29 Nov 02, 2014 04:37AM  
Jim Harrison's fascinating protagonists 1 5 Oct 20, 2013 07:23AM  
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17055
Jim Harrison was born in Grayling, Michigan, to Winfield Sprague Harrison, a county agricultural agent, and Norma Olivia (Wahlgren) Harrison, both avid readers. He married Linda King in 1959 with whom he has two daughters.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

His awards include National Academy of Arts grants
...more
More about Jim Harrison...
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“If you added it up, without her there was nothing--but with her even the simplest of gestures of walking a bird dog in the desert, or selecting the ingredients for a meal for two rather than one took on an ineffable charm.

(from the novella, Revenge)”
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“His own life suddenly seemed repellently formal. Whom did he know or what did he know and whom did he love? Sitting on the stump under the burden of his father's death and even the mortality inherent in the dying, wildly colored canopy of leaves, he somehow understood that life was only what one did every day.... Nothing was like anything else, including himself, and everything was changing all of the time. He knew he couldn't perceive the change because he was changing too, along with everything else.

(from the novella, The Man Who Gave Up His Name)
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