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It seems like there are two phases to the critical reaction to Puzo's work. On one hand, there was an immediate praise to it upon its first reception. The details of "the mob life" and "the family" were immediately revered. Critics loved the intensity of both sex and violence that was featured within it. At the same time, reviewers saw this as part of the book's strength. In a later edition, the author himself critiqued his own writing and wished it had been more effective. Not surprisingly, reviewers piggy backed off of this and yearned for the same.
Where the reviewers have always seemed to agree upon is in two domains. The first is that there is a magnetic attraction to the main character, Vito Corleone. The manner in which he is constructed in the book is one that transcends writer flaws and other elements. This is similar to Brando's depiction of Corleone in the film. The attraction to Corleone as a character is also reflective of how reviewers perceive the work to be telling of American culture. The fascination with the mafia, the family, and the idea that even though there is a definite moral deficiency is what is being done, there is some yearning for order within it has been where critics have focused their attention. In this, the analysis is not about the work, but rather on how the public is entranced by the work and the implications that arise from this.
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