The Godfather (novel)

The Godfather (novel)

infobox Book |
name = The Godfather
orig title =
translator =

author = Mario Puzo
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Crime novel
publisher = G. P. Putnam's Sons
release_date = 10 March 1969
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback) & Audio Book
pages = 448 pp (Paperback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-7493-2468-6 (Hardback edition) & ISBN 0-399-10342-2 & ISBN 0-451-16771-6 (Paperback editions)
preceded_by =
followed_by = The Sicilian

"The Godfather" is a crime novel written by American author Mario Puzo, originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It details the story of a fictitious Sicilian Mafia family based in New York City (and Long Beach, NY) and headed by Don Vito Corleone, who became synonymous with the Italian Mafia. The novel covers the years 1945 to 1955, and also provides the backstory of Vito Corleone from early childhood to adulthood.

The book introduced Italian criminal terms like "consiglieri", "caporegime", "Cosa Nostra", and "omertà" to an English-speaking audience. It formed the basis for a 1972 film of the same name. Two film sequels, with new contributions made by Puzo, were made in 1974 and 1990. The first and second film are widely considered to be two of the greatest films of all time.


Much controversy surrounds the title of the book and its underworld implications. Although it is widely reported that Puzo was inspired to use "Godfather" as a designator for a Mafia leader from his experience as a reporter, the term "The Godfather" was first used in connection with the Meafia during Joe Valachi's testimony during the 1963 Congressional Hearing on Organized Crime.Fact|date=June 2007 this all not true

Main characters

The Corleone family patriarch is Vito Corleone (The Don), whose surname (Italian for "Lionheart") recalls the town of Corleone, Sicily. Similarly, the maiden name of Corleone's mother is Corigliano, named after the town of Corigliano Calabro, Calabria; an area well known for 'Ndrangheta activity. Vito has four children: Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Fredo "Freddie" Corleone, Michael "Mike" Corleone, and Constanzia "Connie" Corleone. He also has an informally adopted son, Tom Hagen, who became the Corleones' "consigliere". Vito Corleone is also the godfather of a famous singer and movie star Johnny Fontane. The Godfather referred to in the title is generally taken to be Vito. However, the story's central character is actually Michael, and a central theme of the novel is that it is Michael's destiny, despite his determination to the contrary, to replace his father as the family head.

The Corleone family are in fact a criminal organization with influence in many areas of crime, notably Protection and Extortion, Gambling and the Unions. Under the Don is his "consigliere" who is a 'cutout,' to protect the Don from implication. The operational side of the organisation is headed by two 'Caporegime,' or 'Captains.' Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio are high ranking officials in the family.


The plot deals with a gang war fought between the Corleone family and the five families of New York. After Don Vito Corleone is shot by men working for drug dealer Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo, his two sons, Santino and Michael must run the family business with the help of consigliere Tom Hagen and the two Capos Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio. When Sollozzo and an Irish police captain are murdered by Michael, the conflict escalates into a full scale war which results in Santino's death and Michael, despite his wishes, ascending to the head of the family. He slowly becomes more ruthless than his father, even killing his brother in law Carlo Rizzi, who played a part in Santino's murder. Also as the story progresses many of the minor characters, such as the Don's godson Johnny Fontane and his friend Nino Valenti, Sonny's former girlfriend Lucy Mancini, and Michael's bodyguard Al Neri, are expanded on and given their own subplots. Many of these subplots are not included in the movie. The novel culminates when Michael has his two main enemies, the novel's main antagonist, Emilio Barzini and a lesser but still severely important antagonist, Philip Tattaglia, assassinated. After the total elimination of the Tattaglia Family and Barzini Family, Michael sells all his business in New York and makes the Corleone Family a legitimate business in Las Vegas.

The families

The five New York City families are the Straccis, the Tattaglias, the Corleones, the Cuneos, and the Barzinis. Other families, such as the Bocchicchio clan of New York (who act as peacekeepers), the Tramontis in New Orleans and the Capones, in Chicago are also mentioned. Mario Puzo said that he felt ultimately these books weren't about crime. They were about family. [ [NYTBSL/ Mario Puzo Interview with CNN's Larry King.] ]

Film adaptation

In 1972, a film adaptation of the novel was released, starring Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Mario Puzo assisted with writing the screenplay and with other production tasks. The film grossed approximately $134 million and won various awards, including three Academy Awards, five Golden Globes and a Grammy and is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. The sequel, "The Godfather Part II" won six Oscars, and became the first sequel to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

The film is similar in most places, but leaves out some details, such as extended back stories for some characters. Some of these details were actually filmed, and were included in later versions such as "The Godfather Saga". A subplot involving Johnny Fontane in Hollywood was not filmed. The biggest difference was that the novel included a more upbeat ending than the film, in which Kay Corleone found a peaceful acceptance of Michael's decision to take over his father's business. The film, in contrast, ended sharply with Kay's dreadful realization of what Michael had done and his ruthlessness, a theme that would develop in the second and third films, which were not based on the original novel.

The third film also introduces 'impossible' characters such as Vincent [vincenzo] Mancini, inconsistent with the continuity of events from the novel.

Other adaptations

The video game company Electronic Arts released a video game adaptation of "The Godfather" on March 21, 2006. The player assumes the role of a "soldier" in the Corleone family. Prior to his death, Marlon Brando provided some voice work for Vito, which was eventually deemed unusable and was dubbed over by a Brando impersonator. Francis Ford Coppola said in April 2005 that he was not informed of Paramount's decision to allow the game to be made and he did not approve of it. [" [ Godfather film director whacks Godfather game] " - by Tor Thorsen, GameSpot, April 8, 2005, retrieved April 8, 2005.] Al Pacino also did not participate, and his likeness was replaced with a different depiction of Michael Corleone.


In 2004, Random House published a sequel to Puzo's "The Godfather", "The Godfather Returns", by Mark Winegardner. A further sequel by Winegardner, "The Godfather's Revenge", was released in 2006. The sequel novels continue the story from Puzo's novel. They do not contradict the events of the film sequels, and can be read independently, or be seen as supplemental, to the films.

"The Godfather Returns" picks up the story immediately after the end of Puzo's "The Godfather". It covers the years 1955 to 1962, as well as providing significant backstory for Michael Corleone's character prior to the events of the first novel. The events of the film "The Godfather Part II" all take place within the time frame of this novel, but are only mentioned in the background. The novel contains an appendix that attempts to correlate the events of the novels with the events of the films. The novels and films dovetail in a curious fashion.

"The Godfather's Revenge" covers the years 1963 to 1964.

Continuing Puzo's habit, as seen in The Godfather, of featuring characters who are close analogues of real life events and public figures (as Johnny Fontaine is an analogue of Frank Sinatra), Winegardner features in his two Godfather novels analogues of Joseph, John F., and Robert F. Kennedy (the Shea family, in the novels) as well as an analogue for alleged organized crime figure Carlos Marcello. (Carlo Tramonti). In The Godfather Returns, Winegardner also dramatizes the sweep of organized crime arrests that took place in Apalachin, New York in 1957.

Winegardner uses all of the characters from the Puzo novels, and created a few of his own, most notably Nick Geraci, a Corleone soldier whose role in the two sequel novels is as important as those of the Puzo-created characters. Winegardner further develops Puzo characters like Fredo Corleone, Tom Hagen, and Johnny Fontane.

The Corleone Organization

The Corleone Family is headed by Don Vito Corleone. Santino Corleone, Vito's son, is the underboss, and Tom Hagen, his adopted son, serves as the Family consigliere. Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio are the two caporegimes, Rocco Lampone and Albert Neri become caporegimes. Luca Brasi is the Family enforcer latter this position is filled by Albert Neri. Their soldiers include: Paulie Gatto, Rocco Lampone, Albert Neri.

ee also


Notes and References

External links

* ['s Product Page for "The Godfather"]
* [ Barnes &'s Product Page for "The Godfather"]
* [ The Official Mario Puzo's Library entry for "The Godfather"]
* ['s entry for "The Godfather"]
* [ 20th-Century American Bestsellers's Entry for "The Godfather"]
* [ Mark Winegardner]
* [ The Godfather Returns]
* [ Mario Puzo Interview with CNN's Larry King]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Harlequin (novel) — This article is about The Harlequin , the 2007 novel by Laurell K. Hamilton. For other uses of Harlequin , see Harlequin (disambiguation).infobox Book | name = The Harlequin orig title = translator = author = Laurell K. Hamilton cover artist =… …   Wikipedia

  • The Godfather Saga — Título The Godfather Saga Ficha técnica Dirección Francis Ford Coppola Producción Albert S. Ruddy Francis Ford Coppola …   Wikipedia Español

  • The Godfather Part II — Original film poster Directed by Francis Ford Coppola Produced by …   Wikipedia

  • (the) Godfather — The Godfather [The Godfather] a successful novel (1969) by Mario Puzo about the ↑Mafia. ‘Godfather’ is a popular name for a Mafia leader. A 1972 film of the story, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, won the ↑Oscar for Best Picture. An Oscar also… …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Godfather — Infobox Film name = The Godfather image size = 215px caption = theatrical poster director = Francis Ford Coppola producer = Albert S. Ruddy writer = Novel: Mario Puzo Screenplay: Mario Puzo Francis Ford Coppola Robert Towne (uncredited) narrator …   Wikipedia

  • The Godfather Returns — Infobox Book | name = The Godfather Returns title orig = translator = image caption = author = Mark Winegardner illustrator = cover artist = country = United States language = English series = The Godfather genre = Crime novel publisher = Random… …   Wikipedia

  • The Godfather's Revenge — Infobox Book | name = The Godfather s Revenge title orig = translator = image caption = author = Mark Winegardner illustrator = cover artist = country = United States language = English series = The Godfather genre = Crime novel publisher =… …   Wikipedia

  • The Godfather Saga — Infobox Film name = The Godfather Saga imdb id = writer = Mario Puzo Francis Ford Coppola starring = Marlon Brando Al Pacino James Caan Robert Duvall Diane Keaton Robert De Niro John Cazale Talia Shire director = Francis Ford Coppola producer =… …   Wikipedia

  • The Godfather — 1969 novel by Mario Puzo about an Italian mafia family; Academy Award winning film trilogy based on the novel by Mario Puzo (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Five Families (The Godfather) — The Five Families are five major Mafia crime families in the novel and film The Godfather . The families are based on the real life New York Five Families, five major Italian American crime families. The Five Families The CorleonesThe Dons of the …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”