The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Download The Beautiful and Damned ebook. The Beautiful and Damned, first published by Scribner’s in 1922, is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second novel. It explores and portrays New York café society and the American Eastern elite during the Jazz Age before and after “the Great War” and in the early 1920s. As in his other novels, Fitzgerald’s characters in this novel are complex, especially with respect to marriage and intimacy. The work is generally considered to have drawn upon and be based on Fitzgerald’s relationship and marriage with his wife Zelda Fitzgerald.
The Beautiful and Damned tells the story of Anthony Patch, a 1910s socialite and presumptive heir to a tycoon’s fortune, and his courtship and relationship with his wife Gloria Gilbert. It describes his brief service in the Army during World War I, and the couple’s post-war partying life in New York, and his later alcoholism. Gloria and Anthony’s love story is much more than just a couple falling in love. Their story deals with the hardships of a relationship, especially when each character has a tendency to be selfish. Joanna Stolarek suggests, Fitzgerald draws on “Zelda, the object of the writer’s literary passion” (Stolarek et al. 53).
Toward the end of the novel, Fitzgerald sums up the plot and his intentions in writing it somewhat, even referencing his own first novel, when a financially successful writer friend tells Anthony:
“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? If it’s true to life, which I don’t believe, the next generation is going to the dogs. I’m sick of all this shoddy realism. I think there’s a place for the romanticist in literature.”
The Beautiful and Damned is Fitzgerald’s second book and is set in pre Jazz Age NYC. It is a dark and depressing story of the American aristocracy and nouveau-riche. The author writes a scathing commentary on society life and his tone is cynical and critical of nearly every character he introduces us to.
There is nothing redeeming about our two selfish and shallow protagonists, Anthony and Gloria. It’s all about greed, manipulation, pettiness and depravity. If, as is thought, Gloria is based on Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, it’s not a very flattering portrayal. Gloria is trading on her beauty and Anthony on his promised inheritance. I felt no sympathy for these two, who find themselves in dire straits due mostly to their hedonism and stupidity. Both are pathetic.
While there are very many well written passages, some parts of the novel seemed over long. The story did keep me guessing as it unfolded, but I anticipated a bad end to this well-matched couple: well-matched in their extreme narcissism and lack of morale ethic.
Fitzgerald thoroughly convinced me there was nothing glamorous about the endless partying, resulting alcoholism and broken, useless lives of the Beautiful and Damned.
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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American writer, whose works illustrate the Jazz Age. While he achieved limited success in his lifetime, he is now widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also authored four collections of short stories, as well as 164 short stories in magazines during his lifetime.
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