The Beautiful and Damnedby F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kermit Vanderbilt
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One of F. Scott Fitzgerald's best-known works, The Beautiful And Damned is a glittering novel set against an era of intoxicating excitement and ruinous excess. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a scathing, ironic tale whose fictional couple parallells the real-life relationship of Fitzgerald and his wife, from its romantic beginning to its tragic end. It remains tothis day a devastating portrait of insatiable greed, ruthless ambition, and wasted talent.
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Anthony Patch In 1913, when Anthony Patch was twenty-five, two years were already gone since irony, the Holy Ghost of this later day, had, theoretically at least, descended upon him. Irony was the final polish of the shoe, the ultimate dab of the clothes-brush, a sort of intellectual “There!”—yet at the brink of this story he has as yet gone no further than the conscious stage. As you first see him he wonders frequently whether he is not without honor and slightly mad, a shameful and obscene thinness glistening on the surface of the world like oil on a clean pond, these occasions being varied, of course, with those in which he thinks himself rather an exceptional young man, thoroughly sophisticated, well adjusted to his environment, and somewhat more significant than any one else he knows.
This was his healthy state and it made him cheerful, pleasant, and very attractive to intelligent men and to all women. In this state he considered that he would one day accomplish some quiet subtle thing that the elect would deem worthy and, passing on, would join the dimmer stars in a nebulous, indeterminate heaven half-way between death and immortality. Until the time came for this effort he would be Anthony Patch—not a portrait of a man but a distinct and dynamic personality, opinionated, contemptuous, functioning from within outward—a man who was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the sophistry of courage and yet was brave.
a worthy man and his gifted son
Anthony drew as much consciousness of social security from being the grandson of Adam J. Patch as he would have had from tracing his lineover the sea to the crusaders. This is inevitable; Virginians and Bostonians to the contrary notwithstanding, an aristocracy founded sheerly on money postulates wealth in the particular.
Now Adam J. Patch, more familiarly known as “Cross Patch,” left his father’s farm in Tarrytown early in sixty-one to join a New York cavalry regiment. He came home from the war a major, charged into Wall Street, and amid much fuss, fume, applause, and ill will he gathered to himself some seventy-five million dollars.
This occupied his energies until he was fifty-seven years old. It was then that he determined, after a severe attack of sclerosis, to consecrate the remainder of his life to the moral regeneration of the world. He became a reformer among reformers. Emulating the magnificent efforts of Anthony Comstock, after whom his grandson was named, he levelled a varied assortment of uppercuts and body-blows at liquor, literature, vice, art, patent medicines, and Sunday theatres. His mind, under the influence of that insidious mildew which eventually forms on all but the few, gave itself up furiously to every indignation of the age. From an armchair in the office of his Tarrytown estate he directed against the enormous hypothetical enemy, unrighteousness, a campaign which went on through fifteen years, during which he displayed himself a rabid monomaniac, an unqualified nuisance, and an intolerable bore. The year in which this story opens found him wearying; his campaign had grown desultory; 1861 was creeping up slowly on 1895; his thoughts ran a great deal on the Civil War, somewhat on his dead wife and son, almost infinitesimally on his grandson Anthony.
Early in his career Adam Patch had married an anæmic lady of thirty, Alicia Withers, who brought him one hundred thousand dollars and an impeccable entré into the banking circles of New York. Immediately and rather spunkily she had borne him a son and, as if completely devitalized by the magnificence of this performance, she had thenceforth effaced herself within the shadowy dimensions of the nursery. The boy, Adam Ulysses Patch, became an inveterate joiner of clubs, connoisseur of good form, and driver of tandems—at the astonishing age of twenty-six he began his memoirs under the title “New York Society as I Have Seen It.” On the rumor of its conception this work was eagerly bid for among publishers, but as it proved after his death to be immoderately verbose and overpoweringly dull, it never obtained even a private printing.
This Fifth Avenue Chesterfield married at twenty-two. His wife was Henrietta Lebrune, the Boston “Society Contralto,” and the single child of the union was, at the request of his grandfather, christened Anthony Comstock Patch. When he went to Harvard, the Comstock dropped out of his name to a nether hell of oblivion and was never heard of thereafter.
Young Anthony had one picture of his father and mother together—so often had it faced his eyes in childhood that it had acquired the impersonality of furniture, but every one who came into his bedroom regarded it with interest. It showed a dandy of the nineties, spare and handsome, standing beside a tall dark lady with a muff and the suggestion of a bustle. Between them was a little boy with long brown curls, dressed in a velvet Lord Fauntleroy suit. This was Anthony at five, the year of his mother’s death.
His memories of the Boston Society Contralto were nebulous and musical. She was a lady who sang, sang, sang, in the music room of their house on Washington Square—sometimes with guests scattered all about her, the men with their arms folded, balanced breathlessly on the edges of sofas, the women with their hands in their laps, occasionally making little whispers to the men and always clapping very briskly and uttering cooing cries after each song—and often she sang to Anthony alone, in Italian or French or in a strange and terrible dialect which she imagined to be the speech of the Southern negro.
His recollections of the gallant Ulysses, the first man in America to roll the lapels of his coat, were much more vivid. After Henrietta Lebrune Patch had “joined another choir,” as her widower huskily remarked from time to time, father and son lived up at grampa’s in Tarrytown, and Ulysses came daily to Anthony’s nursery and expelled pleasant, thick-smelling words for sometimes as much as an hour. He was continually promising Anthony hunting trips and fishing trips and excursions to Atlantic City, “oh, some time soon now”; but none of them ever materialized. One trip they did take; when Anthony was eleven they went abroad, to England and Switzerland, and there in the best hotel in Lucerne his father died with much sweating and grunting and crying aloud for air. In a panic of despair and terror Anthony was brought back to America, wedded to a vague melancholy that was to stay beside him through the rest of his life.
PAST AND PERSON OF THE HERO
At eleven he had a horror of death. Within six impressionable years his parents had died and his grandmother had faded off almost imperceptibly, until, for the first time since her marriage, her person held for one day an unquestioned supremacy over her own drawing room. So to Anthony life was a struggle against death, that waited at every corner. It was as a concession to his hypochondriacal imagination that he formed the habit of reading in bed—it soothed him. He read until he was tired and often fell asleep with the lights still on.
His favorite diversion until he was fourteen was his stamp collection; enormous, as nearly exhaustive as a boy’s could be—his grandfather considered fatuously that it was teaching him geography. So Anthony kept up a correspondence with a half dozen “Stamp and Coin” companies and it was rare that the mail failed to bring him new stamp-books or packages of glittering approval sheets—there was a mysterious fascination in transferring his acquisitions interminably from one book to another. His stamps were his greatest happiness and he bestowed impatient frowns on any one who interrupted him at play with them; they devoured his allowance every month, and he lay awake at night musing untiringly on their variety and many-colored splendor.
At sixteen he had lived almost entirely within himself, an inarticulate boy, thoroughly un-American, and politely bewildered by his contemporaries. The two preceding years had been spent in Europe with a private tutor, who persuaded him that Harvard was the thing; it would “open doors,” it would be a tremendous tonic, it would give him innumerable self-sacrificing and devoted friends. So he went to Harvard—there was no other logical thing to be done with him.
Oblivious to the social system, he lived for a while alone and unsought in a high room in Beck Hall—a slim dark boy of medium height with a shy sensitive mouth. His allowance was more than liberal. He laid the foundations for a library by purchasing from a wandering bibliophile first editions of Swinburne, Meredith, and Hardy, and a yellowed illegible autograph letter of Keats’s, finding later that he had been amazingly overcharged. He became an exquisite dandy, amassed a rather pathetic collection of silk pajamas, brocaded dressing-gowns, and neckties too flamboyant to wear; in this secret finery he would parade before a mirror in his room or lie stretched in satin along his window-seat looking down on the yard and realizing dimly this clamor, breathless and immediate, in which it seemed he was never to have a part.
Curiously enough he found in senior year that he had acquired a position in his class. He learned that he was looked upon as a rather romantic figure, a scholar, a recluse, a tower of erudition. This amused him but secretly pleased him—he began going out, at first a little and then a great deal. He made the Pudding. He drank—quietly and in the proper tradition. It was said of him that had he not come to college so young he might have “done extremely well.” In 1909, when he graduated, he was only twenty years old.
Then abroad again—to Rome this time, where he dallied with architecture and painting in turn, took up the violin, and wrote some ghastly Italian sonnets, supposedly the ruminations of a thirteenth-century monk on the joys of the contemplative life. It became established among his Harvard intimates that he was in Rome, and those of them who were abroad that year looked him up and discovered with him, on many moonlight excursions, much in the city that was older than the Renaissance or indeed than the republic. Maury Noble, from Philadelphia, for instance, remained two months, and together they realized the peculiar charm of Latin women and had a delightful sense of being very young and free in a civilization that was very old and free. Not a few acquaintances of his grandfather’s called on him, and had he so desired he might have been persona grata with the diplomatic set—indeed, he found that his inclinations tended more and more toward conviviality, but that long adolescent aloofness and consequent shyness still dictated to his conduct.
He returned to America in 1912 because of one of his grandfather’s sudden illnesses, and after an excessively tiresome talk with the perpetually convalescent old man he decided to put off until his grandfather’s death the idea of living permanently abroad. After a prolonged search he took an apartment on Fifty-second Street and to all appearances settled down.
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Meet the Author
Alan Margolies is Professor of English at John Jay College, CUNY.
- Date of Birth:
- September 24, 1896
- Date of Death:
- December 21, 1940
- Place of Birth:
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Princeton University
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I am a fan of Fitzgerald, but this is my favorite. I probably read this book four times already. The characters are so rich and complex, heartbreaking and funny all at once. I don't know how he does it!
Fantastic use of metaphor and simile, and filled with the numerous examples of Fitzgerald's often stunning lyricism. It doesnt quite reach the all-time peaks as Gatsby; and it DOES suffer from a bit of the same undergraduate's self-consciousness that dogged This Side of Paradise throughout. But its still a delightful book, and F Scott Fitzgerald's 2nd best book--is still several miles ahead of almost anyone else. The scene where Anthony (Scott) is selling Bonds en masse to a captured audience in a drug store, is also one of the funniest things I've ever read!
The Beautiful and Damned us the story of Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert. It takes place in the New York area in the 1920's. Gloria is very vain and has many men. Anthony and Gloria go on a date and Anthony falls in love with her. After several months they get married. Neither one works and they live off of Anthony's inheritance from his father, which isn't very much. They are very involved in the social scene, and go out most nights of the week. Their money slowly dwindles away but they are counting on inheriting millions from Anthony's grandfather. This was a very good book. You forget that it is set about eighty years ago. The book also gets you very involved. You are constantly yelling at Anthony to get a job and at Gloria to get over herself. I would recommend this book to anyone.
This is my favorite Fitzgerald novel. Because the main characters were supposed to be based on Fitzgerald and his wife, the relationship between Anthony and Gloria was especially interesting. The 1920s are a period that fascinates me, so the background of this story was exciting for me. Fitzgerald's writing is great, and he has his usual sharp insights into society.
F. Scott Fitzgerald has a wonderful style of writing that emphasizes important dialogue between characters or potentially confusing dialogue. He emphasizes these passages by writing them in a play format. This style along with other elements makes his book The Beautiful and Damned a book worth reading. One section of this book that Fitzgerald¿s style of writing was useful was in Book Two, Chapter 1 (The Radiant Hour), in the section entitled ¿Ushers.¿ All of the men were conversing with one another with little else going on about them. Had this section been written in a traditional style it would have been very hard to tell who was saying what. Another section where this was an effective writing style was in Book One, Chapter 1 (Anthony Patch), in the section entitled ¿A Flash-Back in Paradise.¿ The dialogue between the voice and the idea of Beauty was significant and didn¿t need any description of surroundings or time and place, so this style worked perfect for what this section was being used for. Fitzgerald¿s ability to connect several writing styles in his books makes his writing more effective that if it were written in one style only. The Beautiful and Damned is definitely a book worth reading, especially to read through F. Scott Fitzgerald¿s unique style.
There often exists in our society this sort of tacit idea that if only we were wealthier then so many of our problems would be solved and happiness would be handed to us on a silver platter. Many men spend their entire lives looking up to the well to do, always stuck in a rat race to try and reach for wealth and try and find in it happiness. Yet Fitzgerald is able to decimate this mirage of this association between wealth and happiness. This is most importantly done through the characterization of Anthony Patch. He is first seen as a very hollow man, with no passion of any sort. He can¿t find meaning in his work, ridiculing those who do. The only thing he ever holds dear and in which he finds meaning is his marriage to a girl with almost the exact same problem. They seem to have no problems, being young, innately wealthy and free to do what they wish. Through the entire novel the two continue to throw ever more elaborate parties. Yet when the liquor wears off and the guests have left, they are left with an allegorical mess, completely meaningless. The only place they can truly find happiness is in their marriage. Fitzgerald is able to show how wealth often ruins men, highlighting the major problems of his era. The way in which Fitzgerald is able to create a character like Anthony Patch that represents the problems of such a gilded era makes the Beautiful and Damned worth reading. Not only does it eloquently represent an era that otherwise might seem so foreign, but it also has a universal message, that even today many struggle with.
¿It is the manner of life seldom to strike but always to wear away.¿ In The Beautiful and Damned, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald creates a compelling struggle between life and his two dynamic characters Anthony and Gloria. Fitzgerald inserts his own questions of life and relationships in the offhand statements of his characters, usually too well placed to even be noticed by the reader. And such is the manner of The Beautiful and Damned, to strike at the soul and mind and to wear away our own definitions and conceptions through silent screams of indecision, fear and regret. Fitzgerald uses his understanding of literature and the power of words to convey two stories: one on the surface, and one, hidden below all plot lines, running deep within each character and within all people who have ever dared to live. He uses color and imagery to clue his readers to this underlying message. Also, Fitzgerald writes in a ¿play-like¿ manner, with certain character dialogues, a sense of staging, narration and even in some parts of the book even special ¿play-like¿ formatting. This method creates an image of the surface plot, the plot the reader can tangibly grasp: the raised print on the page, the crisp sheets, the grammar and the structure of the story. These elements leave behind all that the reader feels and understands on a deeper level inside the mind, making each reader digest all this information alone, because it is not just bluntly stated by Fitzgerald on paper. This story allows the reader to just read a story, or to jump into the structure of the mind and soul, freeing locked feelings and questions. Fitzgerald¿s power is to massage his words giving each phrase the power to strike the reader and let them see themselves for the first time.
The Beautiful and Damned is the story of Anthony and Gloria Patch as they struggle to maintain the passion of their young love through the trials and tribulations of an increasingly monotonous society. It is a triumph of the literary arts and contains some of the most beautiful prose ever to be written in all of literature. Readers will recognize immediately from the very first page Fitzgerald¡¯s distinctive style of writing. It is clearly evident from reading Fitzgerald¡¯s prose that each word in the novel was picked with careful consideration. Every word has a rational for its existence within the novel. Every single one of them are masterfully ordered and structured to form some of the most flowery prose in all of American literature. Fitzgerald¡¯s beautiful prose truly highlights all of the passion and the romance of the novel. They give further emphasis on the beauty and passion of Gloria and Anthony¡¯s young love and their desperate attempts to maintain it. In addition, Fitzgerald further breaks the monotony of his novel by introducing passages in script format. These segments of the novel truly display Fitzgerald¡¯s mastery of the dialogue. They provide him with an opportunity to develop characterizations using only dialogue and thus serve as a refreshing change of pace in the novel. Fitzgerald¡¯s mastery of the English language is easily apparent in every page of The Beautiful and Damned. It is a very easy recommendation for anyone who wishes to see the true beauty of the English language. It is an outstanding piece of literature and thus earns this reviewer¡¯s seal of approval.
An Excellent Read- The Beautiful And Damned F. Scott Fitzgerald utilized characterization to make his novel The Beautiful and Damned well worth reading. Fitzgerald¿s nontraditional use of characterization made his book a literary treasure. Continuing after his first novel This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald did an excellent job of using his characters to create the literary classic The Beautiful and Damned. Fitzgerald captured the unusual nature of his two main characters Gloria and Anthony Patch successfully in this work of fiction. Fitzgerald made use of the ¿Jazz Age¿ to capture the youth of a generation in Gloria and Anthony. The success of their marriage is dependant on an inheritance and the characters¿ failure to grasp reality leads the couple into moral and monetary debt. The two drink too much, spend too much money, and party too much, which takes them down a path of torment and ruin. The unusual character choice by Fitzgerald makes this novel worthy of note, and definitely more appealing. The reluctance of Anthony to work continually darkens their situation and strains their relationship. Anthony himself summarizes the situation best: ¿I do nothing, for there¿s nothing I can do that¿s worth doing.¿ The pressure of the situation forces the couple¿s mental state into a rapid decline. Fitzgerald focused on their pursuit of happiness and self-indulgence to create a partnership between two characters that could only come from the mind of Fitzgerald himself. This gut-wrenching story of an ill-fated couple captures the essence of the ¿roaring twenties¿, and the drama of a love gone stale. The trials and tribulations that Gloria and Anthony face create a novel that I enjoyed and would definitely suggest for a delectable read. Fitzgerald¿s nontraditional characterization made his book excellent and his novel passed my evaluation with flying colors.
In many of Fitzgerald¿s novels he often portrays marriage as the opposite of love. The Beautiful and Damned is no different. As the young Gloria and Anthony hurtle through their life with reckless abandon, their love slowly crumbles along with their marriage and sense of selves. Just as many of Fitzgerald¿s other lovers, the young couple marries and lives a loveless life. At the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to Anthony Patch, a young man full of ideals, terrified of death and still searching for love. He meets his friend¿s cousin, the beautiful debutante, Gloria Gilbert, and falls in love with her. This is the beginning of his long fall from glory. While Anthony courts Gloria, he is at the high point in his life. He has his grandfather¿s approval, his friends are succeeding and he is quite happy with himself. Gloria is much the same, her family is successful and she can enjoy doing whatever she wishes with her life. She describes this position and state of mind as being ¿clean.¿ However, as soon as they get married, their problems start to grow. This is first seen at their marriage when Fitzgerald describes their emotions to the reader but there are feeling completely different about the marriage. Anthony is devoid of emotion and feels numb while Gloria is overflowing with emotion and is ready to burst. Things only get worse on their honeymoon. Their small differences only get bigger and bigger as they continue on their life. As the marriage continues their love for each other seems to shrink away until it becomes only a memory of what it once as. It is this memory that drives Anthony to begin drinking and to have an affair with Dot. At the end of the novel we see Anthony and Gloria, barely even connected to each other any longer, held together by mere duty. Although they have been granted the wealth they had always dreamed of having, neither Anthony or Gloria is as happy as they once were. This fact is only amplified by girl who comments that Gloria is pretty but doesn¿t seem ¿clean.¿ The symbolism behind this is that Gloria and Anthony, due to their marriage are no longer in love and happy but are instead married, the opposite. Fitzgerald uses this theme in many of his novels, but in no novel is as obvious or as poignantly put as in The Beautiful and Damned. In this portrait of the Jazz Age Fitzgerald certainly makes his point: Marriage destroys love.
The Beautiful and Damned fallows the lives of Antony Patch and his wife Gloria Gilbert. In the beginning Anthony is introduced to Gloria through a friend. He is automatically intrigued by her, and many people can see the difference, in Anthony especially as he strongly pursues Gloria. Anthony and Gloria have a quick falling out before they inevitably get married. Their marriage starts out wonderful, they are madly in love, but it quickly deteriorates as Anthony refuses to look for work, and becomes more of a partying alcoholic. Anthony and Gloria are both money striving people, and they were waiting for Anthony¿s Grandfather to pass away. All they wanted was the money. In the end, after many people had lost respect for Anthony, they gained respect because he pulled through. This book was far different from any F. Scott Fitzgerald book I have ever read. I do not believe it is nearly as good as The Great Gatsby or This Side of Paradise, but if you are an avid Fitzgerald fan it is still a great read. It holds the romantic aspect that Fitzgerald intertwines in his books, and also explains the 1920¿s very vividly. Even though I do not find this book nearly as good as some of Fitzgerald¿s other works, it is still quite wonderful, filled with suspense and question. I would recommend this book mainly because it keeps you locked in and wondering what is going to happen on the next page. It is a wonderful work of literature.
Fitzgerald can work a pen like no other writer in history. He's is notoriously uncredited for his innovation skills, in Beautiful and Damned, you'll see why. Many people don't understand the genius of Fitzgerald and label him as an untalented and dry writer who just got lucky with Gatsby. If you are one of these people, read his book and you will change your mind. If you like his, I strongly suggest you to read Fitzgerald's best work, and the best American novel in my mind: Tender is the Night. They both deal with a deterioraion of the main character, but they go about in different ways. Both ways are equally interesting.
This was a great read.