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The Beautiful and Damned

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
By: (1896-1940)

An idle, extravagant young man is the heir presumptive of his wealthy grandfather, an industrial tycoon. His wife, divinely beautiful and utterly selfish, believes that nothing is more powerful than her own beauty. Together, this couple represents what Fitzgerald famously portrayed as the lost generation of the Jazz Age in several of his novels.

In The Beautiful and The Damned, F Scott Fitzgerald explores the trivial and shallow lives of the well-heeled inheritors of the American Dream the second or third generation that can afford to live on the fortunes that their forbears worked so hard to accumulate. The book traces the life of Anthony Patch between the ages of 25 and 33 and focuses intensely on his almost obsessive love for the gorgeous looking Gloria Gilbert. Their meeting, courtship, marriage, the endless social whirl of parties, the sudden financial troubles that hit them, the long awaited inheritance that comes to their rescue and the totally unexpected final conclusion make the book a bittersweet saga.

Fitzgerald's own life and his marriage to the beautiful Zelda are supposedly the inspiration for this 1925 book, which was his second novel. It follows one of Fitzgerald's favorite themes that great wealth destroys greatly. However, here the irony in the whole situation is that Patch is not wealthy at all; he only nurses “great expectations!” He refuses to work believing that one day he would be a gentleman of leisure. However, his grandfather, an old-school reformist thinker, believes in the credo of hard work and plain living. When the old man turns up unexpectedly at one of the couple's flashy parties, he rewrites his will, leaving Patch devastated and with no recourse other than to explore legal options.

Fitzgerald was famous for his uncanny ability to select the perfect title for his books. The Beautiful and The Damned is no exception. It describes a group of people whose looks are indeed their damnation. Their outward appearance hides their avarice, lust, self indulgence and utter degeneration of moral values. Though these characters are totally unworthy of our sympathy, they manage to capture the imagination simply because of the author's vivid portrayal. Fitzgerald's eye for detail, his brilliant and luminous prose, the authentic recreation of the garish and gaudy side of America in the 1920s are all wonderfully showcased in the book.

His first novel, This Side of Paradise had just been published and received with almost universal admiration. Though The Beautiful and The Damned is considered by critics to be less brilliant, it is nevertheless a dazzling picture of a vanished era.

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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 2 reviews)

March 15, 2015
great story, I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and listened to some parts over and over. Reader does a fine job.
Reviewer: - February 6, 2013
Subject: Kit
Books are best read by people who understand them....

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