The Beautiful and Damned

I have been struggling through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second book. It’s not as well known as Gatsby or a This Side of Paradise but it is a decent book. It feels very much like a sequel to This Side of Paradise with the dialogue scenes written like plays and sections within chapters within books. They are both composed of three sections each called a book. As James West III notes this is most likely Fitzgerald reusing things that people like from This Side of Paradise.

It’s about a sort of writer Anthony Patch and his life. Anthony comes from wealthy family and when he marries he is expected to come into his inheritance from his Grandfather. He is very much like Amory Blaine from This Side of Paradise, although Patch is a Harvard man.  In the first book we read about how Patch isn’t sure what to do with his life he and his friends Dick Carmel and Maury Noble are also writers. Anthony falls for a flapper character Gloria Gilbert, who happens to be  Dick Carmel’s cousin and Anthony thinks that he loves her. The second book begins with their wedding, but as the wedding approaches Dick’s book is published and is a big hit. Gloria and Anthony get married and they both discover that the other isn’t what they hoped them to be. Then the drinking begins and boy do they drink.  In the final book it take Anthony to War, he begins in South Carolina where he has an affair with Dot Raycroft and is shipped off to Germany. When Anthony returns things get worse, they never inherited any money so they are dead broke and Patch gets put on trial where Dot shows up and confesses her love for Anthony.  It get a bit crazier from there as well.

Many have said that the characters of Anthony and Gloria are the closest related to that of Scott and Zelda, but as he told his daughter Scottie “We had a much better time then Anthony and Gloria.”  It’s a good read but a very difficult one to get though as so much of the book is people sitting around talking about what to do and worst of all nothing really happens.

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One thought on “The Beautiful and Damned

  1. Nice post. The scenes of extended dialogue can be pretty tedious. But the book has some of my favorite Fitzgerald commentary on co-dependence and notions of love. There is also a lot more comedy than in his later books too. Stuff like his caricature of his Japanese housekeeper has aged poorly and isn’t very funny to me, but other things like Patch trying to become a door-to-door salesman I still get a kick out of. And as always, some beautiful prose.

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