B L O G M A S D A Y 6
The Beautiful and Damned
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published 1922 The Beautiful and Damned is the story of Anthony Patch and his wife, Gloria. Harvard-educated and an aspiring aesthete, Patch is waiting for his inheritance upon his grandfather’s death. His reckless marriage to Gloria is fueled by alcohol and destroyed by greed. The Patches race through a series of alcohol-induced fiascoes – first in hilarity, then in despair. The Beautiful and Damned, a devastating portrait of the nouveaux riches, New York nightlife, a reckless ambition, an squandered talent, was published in 1922 on the heels of Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise. It signaled his maturity as a storyteller and confirmed his enormous talent as a novelist
Image and summary from Goodreads.com
If I am going to be perfectly honest, the reason why I started to read The Beautiful and Damned was because of Taylor Swift. In my head she had quoted this book by Fitzgerald on her instagram or somewhere, and I was curious about it. It turns out she did NOT quote The Beautiful and Damned, and instead quoted This Side of Paradise. Even though I got the wrong book, at first I found myself really enjoying this classic. I think it’s left over from high school, but in my mind it always seems like classics will always be more challenging than they actually are. Yes, they require more brain power than other books sometimes, but before I start reading something I make it out to be the biggest challenge EVER.
Classics musings aside, let’s move on to the book:
Honestly, my experience of reading The Beautiful and Damned feels split into two. At first I really fell into the book and found myself enjoying it. And then, well. It started to loose me.
It starts off with characters that I really didn’t like acting (or not acting) in ways that drove me nuts. It’s like a train wreck and you can’t stop watching. What isn’t a train wreck though, is the writing. It’s easy to sink into and there are several lines that are so quotable. I am going to share a few of my favorites at the end.
The thing with this Fitzgerald novel, is it keeps going. And going. And going. We follow Anthony and Gloria from when they are about 25 and 22 (I THINK. I can’t find their ages now) until they are about 32 and 29, and in this time you’re pretty much witnessing the slow and painful downfall of two people.
I started off thinking this is a more of a coming of age for those that are trying to answer that “what do I do after graduation?” question, and it kind of is, but in the sense where the main characters don’t ever even remotely “come of age.” It is more of a cautionary tale:
Work. Don’t drink too much. Listen to your friends’ advice especially when they are all saying the same thing.
The title of this book is REALLY accurate. Ha!
You should read The Beautiful and Damned if you…
…really like character studies.
…want to read about aristocratic beautiful people partying in 1910
…are in a mood for something more depressing
…want to read pretty writing.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“It worried him that he was, after all, a facile mediocrity… It seemed a tragedy to want nothing- and yet he wanted something, something.”
“So he built hope desperately and tenaciously out of the stuff of his dream, a hope flimsy enough, to be sure, a hope that was cracked and dissipated a dozen times a day, a hope mothered by mockery, but nevertheless, a hope that would be brawn and sinew to his self-respect.”
“What am I going to do?” he began at breakfast. “Here we’ve been married a year and we’ve just worried around without even being efficient people of leisure.” (this just cracked me up)
“He was wondering at the unreality of his ideas, at the fading radiance of existence, and at the little absorptions that were creeping avidly into his life, like rats into a ruined house.”