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This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences-biographical, historical, and literary-to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
If the "Roaring Twenties" are remembered as the era of"flaming youth," it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who lit the fire. His semi-autobiographical first novel, This Side of Paradise, became an instant best-seller and established an image of seemingly carefree, party-mad young men and women out to create a new morality for a new, post-war America. It traces the early life of Amory Blaine from the end of prep school through Princeton to the start of an uncertain career in New York City. Alternately self-confident and self-effacing, torn between ambition and idleness, the self-absorbed, immature Amory yearns to run with Princeton's rich, fast crowd and become one of the "gods" of the campus. Hopelessly romantic, he learns about love and sex from a series of beautiful young "flappers," women who leave him both exhilarated and devastated. Fitzgerald describes it all in intensely lyrical prose that fills the novel with a heartbreaking sense of longing, as Amory comes to understand that the sweet-scented springtime of his life is fragile and fleeting, disappearing into memory even as he reaches for it. Sharon G. Carson is Professor Emerita in the English Department at Kent State University, where she has taught for thirty-five years. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on modern and contemporary fiction.
About The Author Sharon G. Carson is Professor Emerita in the English Department at Kent State University, where she has taught for thirty-five years. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on modern and contemporary fiction.
Biography The greatest writers often function in multifaceted ways, serving as both emblems of their age and crafters of timeless myth. F. Scott Fitzgerald surely fits this description. His work was an undeniable product of the so-called Jazz Age of the 1920s, yet it has a quality that spans time, reaching backward into gothic decadence and forward into the future of a rapidly decaying America. Through five novels, six short story collections, and one collection of autobiographical pieces, Fitzgerald chronicled a precise point in post-WWI America, yet his writing resonates just as boldly today as it did nearly a century ago.
Fitzgerald's work was chiefly driven by the disintegration of America following World War I. He believed the country to be sinking into a cynical, Godless, depraved morass. He was never reluctant to voice criticism of America's growing legions of idle rich. Recreating a heated confrontation with Ernest Hemingway in a short story called "The Rich Boy," Fitzgerald wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different." The preceding quote may sum Fitzgerald's philosophy more completely than any other, yet he also hypocritically embodied much of what he claimed to loathe. Fitzgerald spent money freely, threw lavish parties, drank beyond excess, and globe-trotted with his glamorous but deeply troubled wife Zelda. Still, in novel after novel, he sought to expose the great chasm that divided the haves from the have-nots and the hollowness of wealth. In This Side of Paradise (1920) he cynically follows opulent, handsome Amory Blaine as he bounces aimlessly from Princeton to the military to an uncertain, meaningless future. In The Beautiful and the Damned (1922) Fitzgerald paints a withering portrait of a seemingly idyllic marriage between a pair of socialites that crumbles in the face of Adam Patch's empty pursuit of profit and the fading beauty of his vane wife Gloria. The richest example of Fitzgerald's disdain for the upper class arrived three years later. The Great Gatsby is an undoubted American classic, recounting naÃ¯ve Nick Carraway's involvement with a coterie of affluent Long Islanders, and his ultimate rejection of them when their casual decadence leads only to internal back-stabbing and
murder. Nick is fascinated by the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who had made the fatal mistake of stepping outside of his lower class status to pursue the lovely but self-centered Daisy Buchanan. In The Great Gatsby, all elements of Fitzgerald's skills coalesced to create a narrative that is both highly readable and subtly complex. His prose is imbued with elegant lyricism and hard-hitting realism. "It is humor, irony, ribaldry, pathos and loveliness," Edwin C. Clark wrote of the book in the New York Times upon its 1925 publication. "A curious book, a mystical, glamorous story of today. It takes a deeper cut at life than hitherto has been essayed by Mr. Fitzgerald." Gatsby is widely considered to be Fitzgerald's masterpiece and among the very greatest of all American literature. It is the ultimate summation of his contempt for the Jazz-Age with which he is so closely associated. Gatsby is also one of the clearest and saddest reflections of his own destructive relationship with Zelda, which would so greatly influence the mass of his work. Fitzgerald only managed to complete one more novel -- Tender is the Night -- before his untimely death in 1940. An unfinished expose of the Hollywood studio system titled The Love of the Last Tycoon would be published a year later. Still The Great Gatsby remains his quintessential novel. It has been a fixture of essential reading lists for decades and continues to remain an influential work begging to be revisited. It has been produced for the big screen three times and was the subject of a movie for television starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino, and Paul Rudd as recently as 2000. Never a mere product of a bygone age, F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest work continues to evade time.
Good To Know In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood to pursue a screenwriting career. He only completed a single screenplay Three Comrades during this time before being fired for his excessive drinking. He held a very romantic view of Princeton before attending the university in 1913. However, his failure to maintain adequate grades or become the football star he dreamed to be lead to an early end to his studies in 1917. Fitzgerald owes a his name to another famous American writer. He was named after Francis Scott Key, the composer of "The Star Spangled Banner," who also happened to be a distant relative of Fitzgerald's.
Reviews The first novel that launched Fitzgerald to literary fame and glory in 1920 is now in the public domain and will undoubtedly be released by a number of publishers. These two editions represent both ends of the spectrum. The Cambridge edition is the latest in its ongoing series of corrected texts of Fitzgerald's work. Aimed at the scholarly audience, it includes an introduction, explanatory notes, and illustrations. The Penguin paperback also has an introduction but is a basic, no-frills edition, which is adequate for the casual reader. Serious American literature collections should stock the Cambridge text, which is probably the finest edition of this novel to date.
I recently finished this novel on my spare time. I found this story ok but not great. Some parts were boring and some were a little hard to understand. But if you just like really concentrate on the story, then I'm sure you can successfully complete it. Fitzgerald is a very creative writer and i just love the jazz age [ 1920's]
I have read this inumerable times! My all time favorite book, especially by my favorite author. Never quite understood how The Great Gatsby can overshadow this amazing work of literature! The life of Amory Blaine is fascinating, following through his school days, the reader actually feels like they are there with him. Highly reccomended to anyone and everyone!
This is Fitzgerald's first attempt at novel. Considering that this was written by a 23 year old it is amazing. The middle third or so of the book is written as play, where the main character Amory gets involved with a girl. The main character was very irritating. His time as Princeton was described in brilliant detail though. The plot seems disjointed, but somehow it makes sense. If you are a fan of Fitzgerald this book is highly recommended.
Read An Excerpt From Sharon Carson's Introduction to This Side of Paradise With the soul of a poet, the ear of a musician, and a psyche inextricably intertwined with that of his culture, F. Scott Fitzgerald was perhaps the last true voice of the romantic American spirit. And in all instances, he sought beyond the constraints of cultural mores and literary conventions to create a body of work that bespeaks its ethos. This Side of Paradise (1920) was Fitzgerald's first novel, the work that made him the voice of post-World War I America, "the Jazz Age." The Jazz Age was not just a drastic change in the culture; it was a new dimension in consciousness. During the 1910s and 1920s America underwent a massive paradigm shift, a transition from an era of smug Victorian conformity and certainty to one of confusion and ambiguity called "modernism." World War I had accelerated the velocity of this change, and Fitzgerald expresses this transition in attitudes early in his 1917 play The Debutante when flapper Helen Halcyon with her cigarettes and silver flask is asked by her father if she is ready to fit into the wide, wide world, and she replies, "No daddy, just taking a more licensed view of it." The typical 1920's flapper, Helen doesn't want to "fit in" to the rigid roles prescribed for her by the Victorian world, but to live a more independent lifestyle based on her own desires, and to experience greater social and sexual freedom. Her disdain for convention is a symptom of the shifting cultural mores of the Jazz Age. It is ironic that Fitzgerald's first novel is the one for which he achieved the most acclaim, praise from which he never recovered. Perhaps its reception was the result of the novel's sense of anticipation for the age to come. Written between 1917 and 1919 and published on March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise actually preceded the Jazz Age, an era that Fitzgerald claimed lasted from May Day 1919 to October 1929, when the stock market crashed. Yet the novel is a sensitive barometer of the shifting social climate. Brian Way remarks that "all Fitzgerald's best writing as a historian of manners is retrospective," and even though The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tender Is the Night (1934) both look back on previous summers and previous years, "for a short time at the beginning of his career, Fitzgerald anticipated social change . . . he achieved the kind of popularity which depends upon a writer's being fractionally ahead of his time" (Way, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Art of Social Fiction, p. 62; see "For Further Reading"). This Side of Paradise might have been ahead of its time partly because it examines and rejects the romantic idealism of the Victorian past and reluctantly embraces the troubling uncertainties of the future. It reveals an American culture that is economically on the ascendant but that is psychically ambivalent. World War I had finally ended in November 1918, and the "war to end all wars" had given the nation a euphoric sense of its own power. The stock market was booming, and thousands were getting rich overnight. Many felt the United States had emerged from the war relatively unscathed, having suffered fewer deaths than France, Germany, or Great Britain, and that it was now the greatest nation on earth. But at the same time Americans were troubled by a sense of unease: The trenches in France had demonstrated the brutality of war, and death was on a scale so massive it was incomprehensible. How had the culture, indeed the whole world order, failed so cataclysmically? The war had created a tectonic shift in human consciousness. Paul Fussell comments in The Great War and Modern Memory on the change that occurred between the start of the war in 1914 and its end in 1918: "Out of the world of summer 1914, marched a unique generation. It believed in Progress and Art and in no way doubted the benignity even of technology. The word machine was not yet coupled
with the word gun" (Fussell, p. 24). The savage and absurd deaths of 10 million were a result of this new technology of killing, which introduced the "civilized" nations to artillery, air power, poison gas, and unprecedented civilian casualties. Ezra Pound decried the chaos of the war in his poem "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" (1920): "There died a myriad, . . . For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization," and T. S. Eliot wrote that the stable world view of the nineteenth century could not accord with "the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history." Much like the rebellious youth of the 1960s during the Vietnam War, the young people of the 1920s questioned the absurdity of this "Great War," the value system of a civilization that had created it, and the beliefs of their elders who had supported it. Many of them rejected what they regarded as a pretentious, hypocritical, and outmoded lifestyle and began to live for the moment. The "new women" of the post-war period began smoking and drinking in public, applying rouge, wearing shorter skirts, and speaking their minds. They were becoming more numerous in the post-war workforce, were gaining economic independence, and by 1920 would get the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. No longer the proper Victorian maid with her beau and her chaperone in the tearoom, the new woman was now "the flapper" and "the slicker" in the "speakeasy," sans chaperone. Meanwhile, a sense of hedonistic revelry infected the ballrooms and nightclubs, where dances like the Charleston and the Black Bottom replaced the more sedate and conventional waltzes. Jazz music was popular and was becoming even more so by way of the Graphophone (an early phonograph) and the radio, early accompaniments to what Fitzgerald would call "the gaudiest spree in history." Appalled by the uninhibited carousing, reactionaries mandated prohibition in early 1920 with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment but were met with a populace drinking all the more, even if it was bootlegged liquor or grain alcohol. As Matthew J. Bruccoli notes, "Drinking increased among people for whom defying the bluenose Prohibitionists was a gesture of intellectual respectability" (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, p. 131).
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