The Beautiful and Damned

 
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Customer Reviews:

  • Shows Flashes of Brilliance
    Fitzgerald wrote this novel immediately before he wrote The Great Gatsby, to my mind to best American novel of the twentieth century. So I picked this book up with considerable interest. There are points in the book where Fitzgerald reaches some of the heights of Gatsby. The description of Patch's descent into alcoholism, his regrets and weird investment in his own nihilism and deterioration, and the extraordinary description of the dysfunctional co-dependency between Patch and his wife Gloria are truly great. This part of the book is riveting.

    Also worthwhile is the humor and satire of the book, something that really is not present in Gatsby. While in some respects, the book pokes fun at everyone, including Patch's crusading reformer of a grandfather and his novelist friend Caramel, I don't think Fitzgerald is himself a cynic or nihilist. The descriptions of what Patch's more idealistic Harvard classmates do and Patch's transient regrets about his wasted life, clearly reflect the conventional moral lesson that Fitzgerald is trying to deliver: do good; make something of your life.

    But the book is not in Gatsby's league, and Fitzgerald at this early point in his career (he's only 25) is still developing as a writer. The early chapters of the book are written with an irritatingly intrusive narration, and the reader must have patience to stick with the book. Fitzgerald seems to find his voice a third of the way through, and the novel then just takes off. The ending of the book is disappointing and contrived. It serves Fitzgerald's ironic purposes and digs at the idle rich, but it's not believable. Also, Fitzgerald does not understand the legal system that is at the heart of Patch's struggles and completely bungles his description of how the appellate process works. And the title of the book -- please. Couldn't he have come up with something better than that? It sounds like something his character Richard Caramel would use for one of his many bad novels. This book would have been much improved with editing or a rewrite.

    In any event, a lesser work by Fitzgerald is a masterpiece by anyone else's standards. I recommend it. ...more info
  • One of Fitzgerald's most underated novels
    THis work is absollutely brilliant. Althoug it often gets lost when compared to Fitzgeralds other works, it is still among the best works that arose from the 'lost generation.' Although it follows, in many ways, fitzgerald's usual style, it is very different from his other works. This is a true classic and a must read for any fan of modernism....more info
  • How does he do it?
    Hmmm, just finished The Beautiful and the Damned and was sad to do so. It is the last of His novels for me - until I reread them ofcourse. Yes, F. Scott did it again in this novel - he wowed me - I am utterly amazed at Fitzgeralds use of language!Every other line is brilliant, or near enough. I feel silly "reviewing" this novel - it suffices to say that this is yet another fantastic story wrapped up in a glorious package of ingenious prose and crystalline images - topped off with the big velvet bow that are Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert. Glorious!...more info
  • Tragic Youth
    This was my first Fitzgerald book and I was unable to put it down. He takes us on an adventure through two peoples lives - people with hopes and dreams and what they believe is a promising future. He grafically describes the events throughout Anthony and Gloria's life together, portraying not only a rich society, but the lowest of societies. He entwined characters in ways that will make you always remember them. I picked it up and couldn't put it down....more info
  • wonderful wonderful
    how trite of me to review F. Scott Fitzgerald but i just had to have my say - this book is so wonderful, and the irony involved at the end is so satisfying and yet disturbing.... i rec this one to anyone!...more info
  • As good or even better than Gatsby
    Set at the dawn of the Jazz Age in a blooming New York that is at the same time the picture of decadence and searing poverty, this story centers on the generation of aimless wealthy who, as the descendants of hard-working pioneer fathers and grandfathers, have been handed their money and privilege without too much toil on their part, thereby playing out that ages-old cautionary tale about the children of the rich who grow up listless, jaded, and a little cold because they can't even begin to grasp the morality and ethics of the working class who afforded them the privilege in the first place.

    Forwarding the story here is Anthony Patch, a layabout if there ever was one since he's banking wholeheartedly on inheriting his grandfather's millions. Not that he's entirely unlikable; when he's not partying or sleeping off the latest booze-fest, he can wax philosophical with a few friends and even manages to join the army for a brief stint, although what could be a promising career is soon derailed by his usual bad behavior. Anthony's counterpart is his wife Gloria, a Midwest beauty of the genteel poverty station in life who enraptures Anthony with her blend of outrageous flirtatiousness and astonishing narcissism. Equally directionless, Gloria too shows glimmers of insight and intelligence on the few occasions she's not shopping for a new dress or obsessing about getting older (she nearly commits suicide as the doddering old age of 26 looms). Both of them obsess continuously about "the inheritance", drink too much and live far beyond their means, and after only a few years of marriage find themselves knee-deep in the kind of gradual deterioration that eats slowly away at love, like a book left outside in the rain. It's still hanging on, but a shell of what it was. According to some sources it's loosely - or not so loosely, depending on who tells it - based on Fitzgerald's own marriage to Zelda Sayre.

    Written a few years after The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned was not the commercial or critical success Gatsby was, but I found it fascinating. I think Fitzgerald is the 1920's version of Bret Easton Ellis in the way he examines the American upper classes, especially the tendency for succeeding generations to become less and less useful or motivated, a sort of dilution in progress, a result of too much given and not enough taught.
    ...more info
  • Silent Screams of Change
    "It is the manner of life seldom to strike but always to wear away." In The Beautiful and Damned, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald creates a compelling struggle between life and his two dynamic characters Anthony and Gloria. Fitzgerald inserts his own questions of life and relationships in the offhand statements of his characters, usually too well placed to even be noticed by the reader. And such is the manner of The Beautiful and Damned, to strike at the soul and mind and to wear away our own definitions and conceptions through silent screams of indecision, fear and regret.

    Fitzgerald uses his understanding of literature and the power of words to convey two stories: one on the surface, and one, hidden below all plot lines, running deep within each character and within all people who have ever dared to live. He uses color and imagery to clue his readers to this underlying message. Also, Fitzgerald writes in a "play-like" manner, with certain character dialogues, a sense of staging, narration and even in some parts of the book even special "play-like" formatting. This method creates an image of the surface plot, the plot the reader can tangibly grasp: the raised print on the page, the crisp sheets, the grammar and the structure of the story. These elements leave behind all that the reader feels and understands on a deeper level inside the mind, making each reader digest all this information alone, because it is not just bluntly stated by Fitzgerald on paper. This story allows the reader to just read a story, or to jump into the structure of the mind and soul, freeing locked feelings and questions. Fitzgerald's power is to massage his words giving each phrase the power to strike the reader and let them see themselves for the first time.

    ...more info
  • A Lost Jewel
    i enjoyed this book much more than The Great Gatsby. I true masterpiece and a must-read for all thinking young people....more info
  • His Best Roaring 20's Novel
    By no means his best novel (as others here suggest) but highly underrated. Often one hears of Great Gatsby as his best, Tender is the Night as his labored over lost classic, This Side of Paradise as his promising and famous debut, and The Love of the Last Tycoon as the classic that never was, but Beautiful and Damned is never mentioned. In my opinion this is the book that best describes the hedonistic society I have read of called the Roaring Twenties. As the reader watches all the characters lose their dreams and fall into a depraved, hollow existent based on alcohol I am reminded too fondly of my college years.

    If you are a Fitzgerald fan read this one after This Side of Paradise. If you are someone with a passing interest in the Twenties read this. If you are someone with just a passing interest in Fitzgerald then read this one last, after any of the other Fitzgerald novels....more info

  • The life of a consistent aesthete
    "The Beautiful and Damned" vs. "The Great Gatsby"-obviously the verdict reached by the general reader and critic gives the laurels to the latter. But I don't think this book was meant for either, hence its low estimation in their minds. It was meant for readers who, like the book's hero (or what we might nowadays call antihero), Anthony Patch, see clearly: the emptiness of all endeavors in life not involving beauty. I was reminded in reading this work of Yeats' lines "What portion can the artist have who has awakened from the common dream but dissipation and despair."
    The book is not even truly a novel to my mind but rather as Tolstoy said of his "War and Peace" -"a great swath of life." Only "Anna Karenina," which parallels "The Great Gatsby" in this
    sense, did Tolstoy dub his "novel." This may be another way of saying that the book is what another reviewer denominates "Naturalistic." But, whatever it is, I much prefer its poetic lyricism to the arid artifice that constitutes "The Great Gatsby" much as I infinitely prefer "War and Peace" to "Anna Karenina."
    The flaws in the book (and the reason I gave it only 4 stars) arise when Fitzgerald veers from this three-dimensional writing style to the vapid and two-dimensional characterizations of many of Anthony's acquaintances: What is lacking is texture and background here. Proust wrote about inane decadents as well, but did so in such a way that the reader gains perspective and insight into their condition. This richness is sadly lacking in "The Beautiful and Damned."
    But, aside from this somewhat technical flaw, the book's essential theme and philosophical import-that those who worship exclusively at the altar of Beauty must anticipate a high cost-make it one of the most important works of this century. For beauty in all its earthly incarnations is quintessentially transient. This is nowhere made more clear than in Anthony's soliloquizing to Dot "...you can't have anything at all. Because desire just cheats you. It's like a sunbeam skipping here and there around a room. It stops and guilds some inconsequential object, and we poor fools try to grasp it-but when we do the sunbeam moves on to something else, and you've got the inconsequential part, but the glitter that made you want it is gone-"
    Thus, the book is authentic tragedy, with a note of triumph. I won't give away what other reviewers seem to find the controversial or ambivalent ending. But I, for one, found the words of Paul coming to mind, "I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith."...more info
  • Needed some more work by Maxwell Perkins, but contains many moments of brilliance
    I've probably read The Beautiful and Damned ten or more times--it is a very compelling story, although it also contains many annoying flaws. It, as others have stated, is somewhat verbose and seems as though it was not edited as heavily with Maxwell Perkins (as Gatsby later was.) The third person omniscient narrator is somewhat preachy--and obstructs much of the action, but there are passages of absolute brilliant, clear description of self-destruction and living in the moment. The narrative is almost bone-crushingly linear, as Gloria and Anthony fling themselves toward their inevitable, terrible fate. They "achieve" their notion of the American dream, in the end, but at a terrible cost to them both...

    The topic and the structure of this book is echoed amazingly in Hubert Selby Jr.'s Requiem for a Dream. The characters in that book also lose sight of the reality of their lives in their desperate pursuit of their "dreams." It would be interesting to know if Selby might have been inspired by this Fitzgerald novel. It certainly reads as if he did. ...more info
  • Just short of greatness
    Fitzgerald is at his best in his brilliant and subtle characterizations in this book. He has a terrific grasp of his characters and finds ways to make them realistic. The problem with his characters is that none of them are really likable. I am sure not even Fitzgerald himself thought the characters to be particularly sympathetic. Maybe this was his aim, but it prevents the reader from getting overly involved in the work. I found myself rooting against the main characters, and really all the characters, because they were so egocentric and pompous. It is brillaint writing, no doubt about that, but it is hard to really love a book when the characters are ALL so hatable.
    It is also a rather depressing and bleak look at society. So too is the Great Gatsby, but this one does not seem to have that certain charm that makes you love it. Despite Gatsby's and Nick's flaws they were mostly sympathetic characters.
    Don't get me wrong, this was a really enjoyable and interesting book, but just could not quite grasp its own epic aims. ...more info
  • Beautifully Written about Depressing Story of the B & D'd [96]
    Fitzgerald's farce or satire on upper crust New Yorkers can only be described as being realty becoming greater than fiction. Proclaiming the story "was all true", Fitzgerald intimated that this book was something akin to a kiss-and-tell novel about what had happened within America's richest crowd during the time of World War I.

    "Anthony, Maury, and Dick sent in their applications for officers' training-camps and the two latter went about feeling strangely exalted and reproachless; they chattered to each other, like college boys, of war's being the one excuse for, and justification of, the aristocrat, and conjured up an impossible caste of officers, to be composed, it appeared, chiefly of the more attractive alumni of three or four eastern colleges."

    Princetonian Fitzgerald created a Harvard protagonist Anthony Patch whose birth right is basically his only strong characteristic - at least so at the end of the novel. During his venerable youth, he locks eyes onto friend Rick's cousin, beautiful Gloria, whose unique spirit and vivaciousness make the self-described bachelor become betrothed.

    The book follows the couple for a period of just less than a decade, during which time they fall into numerous elations, and depressions. This see-saw bipolar personality/lifestyle depiction is all-too-common in Fitzgerald's novels. Such was well accentuated in Fitzgerald's doctor and patient relationship in "Tender is the Night" as the patient is ultimately cured and the doctor falls into a deep feeling of desultory depression -- dipsomania. Another of Fitzgerald's common themes is of men chasing after beautiful women who make the boys feel blushing discomfiture. Well depicted here with Gloria as well as in "This Side of Paradise" and its Amory Blaine who constantly trips in his whirlwind attempts to conquer beautiful Rosalind (whose personality and looks mirror those of Gloria).

    As the book progresses, you see the self esteem of Anthony deflate, while his wife amazingly awaits him to recover, by miracle or otherwise, and be the man she grew to love at the tender age of 22. Like "Tender is the Night", alcohol interferes with the person and with his relationships -- Anthony becomes a drunken "bore."

    There are points of this book you have to think - is this a hypothetical autobiography. Had "Tender is the Night" bombed instead of won critical acclaim, would not Fitzgerald have fallen into the liquor bottle like Anthony? I am sure he wondered as such.

    But, as sad as the book can be, Fitzgerald had times of folly and humor. Even a self-deprecating humor. He writes, in one discourse where the people talk disapprovingly about the new novels: "You know these new novels make me tired. My God! Everywhere I go some silly girl asks me if I've read `This Side of Paradise.' Are our girls really like that?"

    Amazingly well written, and even more astonishing in that Fitzgerald was 25 years old when he wrote this novel, this book deserves its acclaim and infamy....more info
  • The Beautiful and the Damned is a tale of two hedonists who waste their privileged lives
    F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and the Damned" was published in 1922 by Charles Scribner. It is written in a naturalistic style by the 26 year old author who had risen to fame due to his first novel "This Side of Paradise." That novel chronicled the life of a Princeton man.
    This long 450 page work deals with the lives of Anthony Patch a Harvard graduate who wastes his life. Anthony refuses to work depending on an inheritance from his wealthy grandfather. The grandfather lives in Terrytown New York where he is a pious prohibitionist who disdains the laziness of Anthony. Anthony fears he will be disinherited with granfather walks in on a wild, drunken party which Anthony is conducting at his summer home.
    Anthony becomes infatuated with the Kansas City beauty the cold but regal Gloria Gilbert. She is based on Fitzgerald's wife Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. The two wed and party their way through California and New York. Gloria is self-centered, vain and selfish. She is a materialist who wishes to be worshipped as a glorious being of sublime beauty.
    The Patch marriage is a disaster. They fight and spend money as if it were going out of style. Anthony's has to sell bonds to keep them afloat. He is drafted into the Army in World War I. He never goes overseas. Instead he is posted in a southern town where he has an affair with the dimwit belle Dot. He breaks off the affair when the war ends.
    Meanwhile, Gloria has remained faithful to him during their separation. She does, however, resume friendships with former beaus who pass through New York in connection with their military assignments. Gloria is as cold as a cucumber and a demandiing hard to please person.
    The marriage resumes following the armistice. Anthony briefly takes a job as a salesman but is a total disaster. He drinks and parties with disreputable characters falling down drunk in the street. Gloria can't abide him and does not want a child. Her belated attempts to enter the movies when she fails a screen test arranged by an old beau who has become a movie producer. She fears growing old as the lines across her face warn her that all beauty is ephemeral.
    Both of these characters are lazy, mentally inactive crybabies. The novel ends when Anthony receives a thirty million bequest in his grandfather's will.
    . Anthony and Gloria's romantic and emotional future is bleak though they are as rich as Croesus. The final scene portrays them sailing to Europe where one expects them to waste their days in gluttony, casual affairs and drinking to oblivion.
    Fitzgerald based this novel on Zelda and his own dissolute lifestyle of wild carousing and boozing in America and abroad. He is able to use dialogue well and his poetic prose sparkles. After over eighty years the novel still holds interest due to the precise characterization of Anthony and Gloria, the prose and the ability to weave a plausible story of decline. These two characters are both beautiful and damned. ...more info
  • Fitzgerald and I know some of the same people.
    This story follows the lives of two good-looking, hip, and sufficiently wealthy people. They do not need to work, and in a sense don't know how, and this, among other privileges, eventually leads to their undoing. Their leisure condemns them. I read this book while I was going through a season of envying the people in my life who are independently wealthy, and don't have to punch an alarm clock each morning to "join the fray." They seem oblivious to the frustrations I encounter working two jobs, watching my budget, buying sensibly. This story served as a reminder that, while challenging, my lifestyle of "earning my living" provides a healthy groundedness and sensibility that I may not get any other way....more info
  • Clever tale of a self-destructive wealthy bum.
    The reader witnesses Fitzgerald's characters as they pass the time and age, but refuse to grow. The main character emerges from a priviledged upbrining and proceeds to alienate those around him with his destructive behavior. Through ironic plot twists and an extremely ironic ending, Fitzgerald question the morals of this and every following generation....more info
  • "They were in love with the generalities."
    I recently went to see Gatz, the wonderful adaptation of Gatsby by the Elevator Repair Service, and it inspired me to go back to Fitzgerald's body of work. I had read all the major the major works except for The Beautiful and Damned, and I decided to remedy that gap.

    The Beautiful and Damned is an interesting book-- I probably liked it the least of all the Fitzgerald works, but I like his work enough that this is far from a bad thing. I could have lived without the overly obvious moralizing genaralities, but Fitzgerald himself recognized that this book had been written in too much of a hurry.

    The major strength of the novel is, of course, the characters. We have all known versions of Gloria and Anthony Patch. We went to college with them. They were the social butterflies who seemed to have no worries, no weaknesses, and no real cares. We all assume that somewhere along the way they had to have stopped partying and found something to do-- you cannot imagine these people at 30. The Beautiful and Damned is something about what happens when the butterflies of the world keep going well past the point of excusable youthful mistakes.

    People who already enjoy Fitzgerald should give The Beautiful and the Damned a read. It is certainly no Great Gatsby, but still contains much of the style and talent that made Fitzgerald so justly famous. Pay particular attention to the language and the turn of the phrase-- even in his lesser works, Fitzgerald is unparalleled at his particular kind of style. ...more info
  • Fitzgerald at his best
    Fitzgerald is a favorite of mine, and I think this to be his best work. His writing is always quiet, careful, and elegant, and in this book the story is equally so. The books I love are always those whose language I consider to be exquisite, and I count this among of the most beautifully written novels I have ever encountered....more info
  • Overly moralistic, but a compelling plot
    F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author, to get my bias out in the open. I have read all four of his novels and many of his short stories, and while this is not his best novel technically, I believe the plot and characters are perhaps more interesting than in some of his other novels. As with his other novels, it draws intensly on Fitzgerald's own life, foreshadowing his problems with Zelda, drinking, and a lack of money. The story of a beautiful young couple ruined by their greed and ambition is very compelling, and the scene where Anthony's grandfather, the Prohibition advocate catches the couple on a "binge" and disinherits them is very dramatic and interesting. By the end of the novel, the couple does retrieve their monetary wealth, but they have already lost their beauty and youth, which is in the end more important than money to Fitzgerald. The story is very moralistic, and perhaps even preachy, but if you are interested in tales of the "leisure class" as I am, you definitely should read this novel....more info
  • "I don't care about truth; I only want happiness !"
    At first it is hard not to fall in love with Gloria Gilbert who, like all the self-besotted children of the heady and hedonistic Jazz Age, is so riotously frivolous, so ingenously self-centred. You excuse the fatuous languidness of her husband Anthony Patch as the transitory aimlessness of youth. But you know that these two have it coming when Gloria - in what FSF calls her "Nietszchean moment" - declares "I don't care about truth; I only want happiness!" While the rest of the Ivy League brahmins live out their dreams as writers and movie-makers, Gloria and Anthony squander their money and beauty on endless parties and clubs. At the end they are the flotsam of the Jazz Age. This tale strains at tragic grandeur without quite achieving it, chiefly because its two main protagonists remain essentially unlikeable, without any redeeming attribute that would stir our sympathy. The prose drips with lyricism, but it is without grace, poise and maturity. FSF was only 26 when it was first published, and this book displays a raw diamond that would attain polish a little later....more info
  • The Beautiful and the Damned
    This novel pretty much hits you over the head with its message, which is that people have to have some purpose in their lives (besides being rich and beautiful).

    Fitzgerald's protagonist, Anthony Patch, is a young man of leisure who expects to inherit substantial wealth one day. He marries a beautiful nihilist, Gloria, and lives a life of pleasure seeking with her until he becomes an alcoholic and approaches his ruin. He's a mean drunk, too, and in case the reader has any remaining sympathy for him, Fitzgerald has him tell a story about once kicking a kitten.

    While it is beautifully written, and probably has value as a cautionary tale, more subtlety would have made this a better novel....more info
  • When life takes a turn
    Fittingly, this was the last of Fitzgerald's novels that I read. And I apparently saved the best for last. In this enrapturing portrayl of young lovers who are attracted by their differences in the beggining yet destroyed by their similarities in the end (the need of wealth). I find this perhaps one of Fitzgerald's finest literary achievements. He has it all working for him in this novel, his character development is excellent, I feel as though I could recognize Anthony or Gloria on the street if they were to saunter my way. Fitzgerald truly breaks his own mold on this terrific literary achievement. He not only tells a wonderful story of two young lovers but he also parallels it with a very strong supporting cast of characters to Anthony and Gloria. Much can be understood of the lead characters by reading into the supporting characters, focus on Anthhony's grandfather for example. The rosy picture which is so commonly printed by the media of the rich has never been so wonderfully redone with vibrant color as Fitzgerald waves his "paint brush" through all the old misconceptions of the rich and into something truly brilliant: Real life. Fitzgerald was indeed touched with brilliance, and never has it ever been more evident than in his wonderful novel :The Beautiful and Damned." An absolute must read....more info
  • Major Improvement on 'This Side of Paradise'
    I quite liked this. His style is meant to be savoured - it's rich and magical and dense in imagery. There is a lyric quality in his descriptions now - he has a fine ear for language, for stringing words and ideas together to present beautiful and innovative images. It especially comes out in his descriptions of New York in the first section, where, instead of giving you an exact idea of what buildings there are and which people are walking past in concrete terms, he recreates a vivid mood and atmosphere that is sparkling with life.

    This is again about the rich and privileged, who have the double fortune of being beautiful and charismatic as well. Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert are quintessential Fitzgerald characters - the handsome and intelligent man who is undone by his weakness and apathy; the woman defined by her impossible beauty who is nevertheless childish and immature. It places them at the pinnacle of high society in 1920s New York, then charts the breakdown of their lives from a whirlwind of pointless pleasure and parties to poverty, alcoholism, despair and finally madness.

    The romance between Anthony and Gloria is finely detailed once they are married, but appears superficial till then. No compelling reason is given for Gloria's change of heart; it's a bit strange to believe that such an avowedly selfish creature would love Anthony so much. There is no climax, but perhaps that was Fitzgerald's intention; that their existences would simply sputter to a pathetic and unprepossessing halt, and therein lies the tragedy.

    One thing I find a bit iffy is how come Anthony managed fine all his life living as a gentleman of leisure who, surely, spent a lot; then fell apart once Gloria came along. Also, why exactly were they so bent on seeking pleasure at all costs? Fitzgerald speaks vaguely of finding an emptiness in their lives after they'd become accustomed to being married; and needing to fill that up with parties and invitations - but why? Were they simply such weak individuals that they could not restrain themselves? That isn't quite a satisfactory answer.

    The question is - could they have stopped this disaster from happening? Was it pre-determined or could they have turned things round for themselves? I think the answer would be yes. It seems impossible, reading about them in the first section, to imagine them in the state they were in by the book's ending; or vice versa. There were so many opportunities - Anthony getting jobs, becoming a war correspondent for instance; apologising to his grandfather, although that was tough; just plain bloody stopping the parties. But I think once Anthony became an adulterer, their fate was sealed. That was, in a way, his ultimate fall from grace; and it was a short way to disillusionment and alcoholism from there....more info

  • Outstanding!
    I believe this to be Fitzgerald's second best novel, behind "The Great Gatsby" It took me just a few days to read because it was so captivating. For anyone who romanticizes about a fairy-tale relationship, the one between Anthony and Gloria was just that, in the beginning. Although they waste a good portion of their youth waiting for Anthony's grandfather's fortune, it's still a very romantic book. This was thoroughly entertaining....more info
  • "yearningly pretentious & palpably artificial"
    I'd read that F. Scott Fitzgerald, older, a full-blown alcoholic with his wife in an insane asylum, went into a bookstore to find all of his books out of print and no longer on the shelves. Not even THE GREAT GATSBY. Wow.

    If it wasn't for the personal history of the author, I don't think I would've enjoyed Fitzgerald's second novel, THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED. The first half of the book follows a young couple living the high life in New York City, partying every night, waiting on a rich grandfather to drop dead so they can get their hands on his fortune, annoyed by World War I for interferring with their travel plans. I didn't like these people. They were snobbish and superficial, the worst kind of social climbers since they never accomplished anything. Anthony was horrified at the thought of actually working at anything and Gloria coasted along on her looks, flirting with a movie career until her looks fade away.

    Fitzgerald's own snobbery is evident throughout. On page 59, he turns up his nose to describe "The Public" (or "the Consumer"), the common folks out trying to enjoy themselves, and he also can't hide his distaste for the poor Southern mistress Anthony uses during his military service.
    I don't think I would've noticed it as much if he'd turned his critical eye to the arrogant fops who were Anthony's Harvard classmates. But they end up rich, so Fitzgerald lets them spout their pretentious and shallow philosophies unchallenged.

    What was really interesting to me was that THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED was written before Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald lived their own beautiful damnation, venturing much further into the dark than "Anthony & Gloria" and denied the "happy ending" manufactured for them.

    The Barnes & Noble Classics editions of classic novels are definitely worth reading. Pagan Harleman's Introduction perfectly sets up this novel and the footnotes and endnotes help to broaden the reader's understanding....more info
  • soap opera 1920s style
    Fitzgerald is an excellent writer. I would need a couple of thesauruses handy to do what he does with the written word. I enjoyed this book, but it is not my favorite by Fitzgerald. I felt that the content of the story is still timely, but I also felt that it would have had more of an impact on the populace of America in the '20s. Today's men and women have changed from the attitudes projected in Beautiful and Damned. It is definitely interesting as a window to the past, but I didn't feel it speaks loudly to this generation of young lovers....more info
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald Stumbles
    Fitzgerald is considered to be an important early 20th century American writer. I bought and read Fitzgerald's five major novels ("This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon") plus one book of short stories plus the biography "Some Sort of Epic Grandeur" by Matthew Broccoli.

    His first major novel, "This Side of Paradise," along with "Gatsby" and "Tender is the Night" are considered to be great novels, and I enjoyed the reads. The other two, including the present, have a few flaws, or simply put: they are not as good. Interestingly, the Bloomsbury Guide does not rate any of the five well known Fitzgerald novels as masterpieces. His best or most complicated work is "Tender is the Night," but it is less well known than "Gatsby" which became a successful film.

    Fitzgerald wrote about half a dozen novels and over 100 short stories between approximately 1917 and 1940. The short stories were done largely to make money to support his life style. In later years, he worked on a number of Hollywood film scripts. He died poor in Hollywood in 1940 at an age of just 44, leaving an insurance policy as his main asset.

    Riding on the success of "This Side of Paradise," Fitzgerald created the present novel with a lack of care. The novel is one of his longest and it follows the life of a young man, Anthony Patch, who has a modest trust and lives in New York. We follow his turbulent marriage, and the life of the couple outside New York in rural Connecticut. There is a tremendous variation in his writing. The first two novels, including the present, feature good prose. But, here he stumbles. This present book is probably his worst novel, but with so much variation in his work, you can also make a case for "The Last Tycoon" as being the worst; since, it ends abruptly at page 150 due to Fitzgerald's sudden death from a hearth attack.

    Early parts of the book remind the reader of "This Side of Paradise" but the book goes off the rails from time to time in the story and the author insists on having short lectures on his point of view thrust into the novel. Those subtle lectures along with the turbulent plot - the chaos of the plot reflects his well known marital problems, the excessive drinking that lead to an early death, and a mentally ill wife Zelda - all taken together tend to ruin the book, or at least brings it down a notch. For that reason, the book was not a great success.

    In his next major work, "The Great Gatsby," he pulls himself back from the chaos and presents a refined and polished short novel. Fitzgerald kept a diary, and he was fully aware that he had to put more work into his next novel and he was determined to make a comeback with "Gatsby."

    Here we have excellent writing, beautiful prose, and an example of an early twentieth century American novel. It is mostly entertaining but a notch or two below his best work....more info
  • Outstanding
    Semi-autobiographical story that captures the essence of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and flamboyance. The characters care most about having a good time, no expense spared, even when it means living seriously above their means. The real story of Scott and Zelda, especially during their early marriage, is eerily similar in some ways, with Scott eventually dying of alocholism and Zelda ending up in an asylum.
    The novel is truly captivating, especially if you want to know more about the glitter of New York City in the 1920's (the "CITY") and America life during that period in general. ...more info
  • Not Among His Better Efforts
    As a fan of Fitzgerald's writing, I was truly disappointed bythis book. Verbose and somewhat boring early on in the text, the bookhas none of the best qualities of his better works. His tendency to write the elegant sentence is taken too far too often in this text, having the effect of a continual stream of unnecessary adjectives normally associated with writers below his caliber. The work also seems thrown together, with pieces of stage script and overly-sentimental poetry splashed among the pages. I can't help but think, with respect to how unpolished the product was, that he had an idea and a deadline and the deadline won. Better books to read by Fitzgerald are The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and even the unfinished The Love of the Last Tycoon. His collected short stories also offer enjoyable reading. I realize I am at odds here, but I cannot recommend this book....more info
  • Beautiful
    I have never read a book quite like this. It was written in 1922 supposedly, yet feels unbelievably modern. It's funny and sardonic and heartbreaking and very very real. The way Fitzgerald observes his world, in such ripely vivid and specific detail, with little overly portentious and self-aware "symbolism" makes it seem like you could reach out and touch it. Fitzgerald's flair for capturing people, both in their best and worst selves, his uncanny self-knowledge, his ability to understand and beautifully elucidate the problems of his group, while caught so inexplicably and fatally in their grasp is incredible. Anthony and Gloria are true originals, although I believe they are highly based on Scott and his wife Zelda. One of the things I really liked about this book is that it lacks the polish and spareness of Gatsby although that is one of my favourite books too. The characters are really allowed to breath in this novel and if the plot is rambling at times, it is nonetheless compulsively readable.
    The amazing thing about this book is that Anthony and Gloria should, on the surface be completely unsympathetic characters. They are rich, trust fund kids who are excellent at partying and spending money and terrible at the practicalities of making money and unprepared for the practical business of being adults. Yet their Fitzgerald never looks down his nose or laughs at them and even through what might seem like inexcusable behaviour I never lost my attachment for either character.
    Some of these reviews I've read here condemn Fitzgerald for moralizing with this book, that the whole message of it is "to do something with your life." Yet I don't think that's it at all. Basically in the book we have two characters who are deeply in love with each other and formed partly by their innate natures and partly by the way they were raised to be unsuited to the business of work and practical life. Yes, the characters are at fault, but Fitzgerald subtly indicates that part of the fault is American society itself, with its ridiculous military traditions, elevation of banality to a high art (the inspid "Heart Talks" pamphlets) and the hypocracsy of the great "moral reformer" who would cut his only heir out of his will for drinking. Gloria is an amazing character, a marvel of specificity and close observation. I love her because she is quite unappolagetically herself. A woman who as wretched as she may be at times is perfectly comfortable in her own skin and feels no need to bend to the "proper female image" of her time. While she is selfish and cruel at times, there isn't a malicious thing about her. If they are both snobs, well they freely admit it. The only thing I dislike is the ending, which I find doesn't quite do the complex Anthony justice and is not really realistic in terms of the character's mental health. Fitzgerald reveals his own flawed soul on the page with such honesty. Never before have I read of a relationship that felt so real to me, that is reflected on with such honesty and generosity of spirit. Fitzgerald was truly a master of his art and I am only sorry he was underappreciated in his time. ...more info
  • If you want Fitzgerald's best, look elsewhere!
    I was first swept away by the writing of Fitzgerald, as I suppose most people were, in his classic text, The Great Gatsby. This book also chronicles romance and "the fast life," but is not nearly as captivating. For those who love Fitzgerald, this is still a good read. However, I would sooner recommend Gatsby, or This Side of Paradise....more info
  • The Beautiful and Damned -- Damned Beautiful!
    We're coming into an age referred to by many as the "Cocktail Nation," and our youth is experimenting with swing dancing, swing music, making bathtub absinthe, and trying to recreate the air of my most favorite decade of all times: the roaring '20s.

    "The Beautiful and Damned," is by far the best work by the man who almost single-handedly created the image of the flapper. F. Scott Fitzgerald was as much the voice of his generation as we claim modern alternative musicians are the voice of ours....more info

  • Another great
    This is perhaps Fitzgerlad's most touching and beautiful work. He is one of the very few novelist who has the ability to draw the reader in and make him feel the story personaly. Fitzgerald's lyrical flow will sweep up any intelectual reader and forever change him....more info
  • the golden age revisited
    fitzerald once again entertains us with the same basic plot but with different characters. it's amazing that an author can continually draw the reader into a story that sounds vaguely familiar with characters that have similar weaknesses. his magic is in bringing that golden era to the present. it's like reading an autobiography of the author himself. the emotions, the enjoy life at all costs attitude, the failures and successes. it's all there as in his other works. in his day some of fitzeralds works where met with minimal praise. we love him more today because he is one of the only authors that have described that era so intricately....more info

 

 
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