The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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by F. Scott Fitzgerald
     
 

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In his short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," F. Scott Fitzgerald provides a humorous and touching journey that reveals what it's like to be born old and age in reverse.

With art by Calef Brown, this collector's edition presents this classic story in illustrated form for the first time.

Overview

In his short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," F. Scott Fitzgerald provides a humorous and touching journey that reveals what it's like to be born old and age in reverse.

With art by Calef Brown, this collector's edition presents this classic story in illustrated form for the first time.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607784197
Publisher:
MobileReference
Publication date:
01/01/2010
Series:
Mobi Classics
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
458,452
File size:
144 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Inspiration for the Upcoming Major Motion Picture
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scribner

Copyright © 2007 F. Scott Fitzgerald
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416556053

Chapter One

As long ago as 1860 it was the proper thing to be born at home. At present, so I am told, the high gods of medicine have decreed that the first cries of the young shall be uttered upon the anesthetic air of a hospital, preferably a fashionable one. So young Mr. and Mrs. Roger Button were fifty years ahead of style when they decided, one day in the summer of 1860, that their first baby should be born in a hospital. Whether this anachronism had any bearing upon the astonishing history I am about to set down will never be known.

I shall tell you what occurred, and let you judge for yourself.

The Roger Buttons held an enviable position, both social and financial, in ante-bellum Baltimore. They were related to the This Family and the That Family, which, as every Southerner knew, entitled them to membership in that enormous peerage which largely populated the Confederacy. This was their first experience with the charming old custom of having babies -- Mr. Button was naturally nervous. He hoped it would be a boy so that he could be sent to Yale College in Connecticut, at which institution Mr. Button himself had been known for four years by the somewhat obvious nickname of "Cuff."

On the September morning consecrated to the enormous event he arose nervously at sixo'clock, dressed himself, adjusted an impeccable stock, and hurried forth through the streets of Baltimore to the hospital, to determine whether the darkness of the night had borne in new life upon its bosom.

When he was approximately a hundred yards from the Maryland Private Hospital for Ladies and Gentlemen he saw Doctor Keene, the family physician, descending the front steps, rubbing his hands together with a washing movement -- as all doctors are required to do by the unwritten ethics of their profession.

Mr. Roger Button, the president of Roger Button & Co., Wholesale Hardware, began to run toward Doctor Keene with much less dignity than was expected from a Southern gentleman of that picturesque period. "Doctor Keene!" he called. "Oh, Doctor Keene!"

The doctor heard him, faced around, and stood waiting, a curious expression settling on his harsh, medicinal face as Mr. Button drew near.

"What happened?" demanded Mr. Button, as he came up in a gasping rush. "What was it? How is she? A boy? Who is it? What -- "

"Talk sense!" said Doctor Keene sharply. He appeared somewhat irritated.

"Is the child born?" begged Mr. Button.

Doctor Keene frowned. "Why, yes, I suppose so -- after a fashion." Again he threw a curious glance at Mr. Button.

"Is my wife all right?"

"Yes."

"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"Here now!" cried Doctor Keene in a perfect passion of irritation, "I'll ask you to go and see for yourself. Outrageous!" He snapped the last word out in almost one syllable, then he turned away muttering: "Do you imagine a case like this will help my professional reputation? One more would ruin me -- ruin anybody."

"What's the matter?" demanded Mr. Button, appalled. "Triplets?"

"No, not triplets!" answered the doctor cuttingly. "What's more, you can go and see for yourself. And get another doctor. I brought you into the world, young man, and I've been physician to your family for forty years, but I'm through with you! I don't want to see you or any of your relatives ever again! Good-bye!"

Then he turned sharply, and without another word climbed into his phaeton, which was waiting at the curbstone, and drove severely away.

Mr. Button stood there upon the sidewalk, stupefied and trembling from head to foot. What horrible mishap had occurred? He had suddenly lost all desire to go into the Maryland Private Hospital for Ladies and Gentlemen -- it was with the greatest difficulty that, a moment later, he forced himself to mount the steps and enter the front door.

A nurse was sitting behind a desk in the opaque gloom of the hall. Swallowing his shame, Mr. Button approached her.

"Good-morning," she remarked, looking up at him pleasantly.

"Good-morning. I -- I am Mr. Button."

At this a look of utter terror spread itself over the girl's face. She rose to her feet and seemed about to fly from the hall, restraining herself only with the most apparent difficulty.

"I want to see my child," said Mr. Button.

The nurse gave a little scream. "Oh -- of course!" she cried hysterically. "Upstairs. Right upstairs. Go -- up!"

She pointed the direction, and Mr. Button, bathed in a cool perspiration, turned falteringly, and began to mount to the second floor. In the upper hall he addressed another nurse who approached him, basin in hand. "I'm Mr. Button," he managed to articulate. "I want to see my -- "

Clank! The basin clattered to the floor and rolled in the direction of the stairs. Clank! Clank! It began a methodical descent as if sharing in the general terror which this gentleman provoked.

"I want to see my child!" Mr. Button almost shrieked. He was on the verge of collapse.

Clank! The basin had reached the first floor. The nurse regained control of herself, and threw Mr. Button a look of hearty contempt.

"All right, Mr. Button," she agreed in a hushed voice. "Very well! But if you knew what state it's put us all in this morning! It's perfectly outrageous! The hospital will never have the ghost of a reputation after -- "

"Hurry!" he cried hoarsely. "I can't stand this!"

"Come this way, then, Mr. Button."

He dragged himself after her. At the end of a long hall they reached a room from which proceeded a variety of howls -- indeed, a room which, in later parlance, would have been known as the "crying-room." They entered. Ranged around the walls were half a dozen white-enameled rolling cribs, each with a tag tied at the head.

"Well," gasped Mr. Button, "which is mine?"

"There!" said the nurse.

Mr. Button's eyes followed her pointing finger, and this is what he saw. Wrapped in a voluminous white blanket, and partially crammed into one of the cribs, there sat an old man apparently about seventy years of age. His sparse hair was almost white, and from his chin dripped a long smoke-colored beard, which waved absurdly back and forth, fanned by the breeze coming in at the window. He looked up at Mr. Button with dim, faded eyes in which lurked a puzzled question.

"Am I mad?" thundered Mr. Button, his terror resolving into rage. "Is this some ghastly hospital joke?"

"It doesn't seem like a joke to us," replied the nurse severely. "And I don't know whether you're mad or not -- but that is most certainly your child."

The cool perspiration redoubled on Mr. Button's forehead. He closed his eyes, and then, opening them, looked again. There was no mistake -- he was gazing at a man of threescore and ten -- a baby of threescore and ten, a baby whose feet hung over the sides of the crib in which it was reposing.

The old man looked placidly from one to the other for a moment, and then suddenly spoke in a cracked and ancient voice. "Are you my father?" he demanded.

Mr. Button and the nurse started violently.

"Because if you are," went on the old man querulously, "I wish you'd get me out of this place -- or, at least, get them to put a comfortable rocker in here."

"Where in God's name did you come from? Who are you?" burst out Mr. Button frantically.

"I can't tell you exactly who I am," replied the querulous whine, "because I've only been born a few hours -- but my last name is certainly Button."

"You lie! You're an impostor!"

The old man turned wearily to the nurse. "Nice way to welcome a newborn child," he complained in a weak voice. "Tell him he's wrong, why don't you?"

"You're wrong, Mr. Button," said the nurse severely. "This is your child, and you'll have to make the best of it. We're going to ask you to take him home with you as soon as possible -- some time today."

"Home?" repeated Mr. Button incredulously.

"Yes, we can't have him here. We really can't, you know?"

"I'm right glad of it," whined the old man. "This is a fine place to keep a youngster of quiet tastes. With all this yelling and howling, I haven't been able to get a wink of sleep. I asked for something to eat" -- here his voice rose to a shrill note of protest -- "and they brought me a bottle of milk!"

Mr. Button sank down upon a chair near his son and concealed his face in his hands. "My heavens!" he murmured, in an ecstasy of horror. "What will people say? What must I do?"

"You'll have to take him home," insisted the nurse -- "immediately!"

A grotesque picture formed itself with dreadful clarity before the eyes of the tortured man -- a picture of himself walking through the crowded streets of the city with this appalling apparition stalking by his side. "I can't. I can't," he moaned.

People would stop to speak to him, and what was he going to say? He would have to introduce this -- this septuagenarian: "This is my son, born early this morning." And then the old man would gather his blanket around him and they would plod on, past the bustling stores, the slave market -- for a dark instant Mr. Button wished passionately that his son was black -- past the luxurious houses of the residential district, past the home for the aged....

"Come! Pull yourself together," commanded the nurse.

"See here," the old man announced suddenly, "if you think I'm going to walk home in this blanket, you're entirely mistaken."

"Babies always have blankets."

With a malicious crackle the old man held up a small white swaddling garment. "Look!" he quavered. "This is what they had ready for me."

"Babies always wear those," said the nurse primly.

"Well," said the old man, "this baby's not going to wear anything in about two minutes. This blanket itches. They might at least have given me a sheet."

"Keep it on! Keep it on!" said Mr. Button hurriedly. He turned to the nurse. "What'll I do?"

"Go downtown and buy your son some clothes."

Mr. Button's son's voice followed him down into the hall: "And a cane, father. I want to have a cane."

Mr. Button banged the outer door savagely...

Copyright © 1922 by P.F. Collier & Sons Co.



Continues...


Excerpted from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald Copyright © 2007 by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Upon graduating from Princeton, he served in the Army and worked briefly in advertising. He married his wife, Zelda, in 1920, a week after his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published. His works, considered by many to be classics, include The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and the uncompleted The Last Tycoon. He died of a heart attack at the age of 44.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 24, 1896
Date of Death:
December 21, 1940
Place of Birth:
St. Paul, Minnesota
Education:
Princeton University

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
reogi More than 1 year ago
After watching the movie, I was completely enthralled by the storyline. I decided to read the books just a few days after. I have to admit, the plot was completely original and I would've never have thought of it, but I couldn't see how they fit such a small book into such a long movie. I realized how much of their own imput was added and I was a bit dissapointing. It was a little dissapointing because the style of writing wasn't personal with the characters, but this story is such a wonderful fairy-tale like story. The story is a little vague to me, but overall, it's one of few stories that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here's a man who was born with a mark against him and managed to grow up when everything and everyone seems to be against him. He managed to get married, raise a child and have a complete life, quality of his life is another issue. When one thought everything seemed to be going well for him, he started to revert to nothingness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Nice,,,, Great...!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I expected more of a storyline, even though it was a short story. I think having watched the movie first made me expect more from the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This nook is so good once you get it yoi will read over and over again
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a short story about a man that is living his life backwards.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. About half way through I was so eager to see the movie since the book was soo good. If you like the book dont see the movie. The movie has the same concept as the book but is very different.
cwreynolds More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent work. While this is posted as a book review and the edition I used was a single story book, the truth is this is in actuality a short story. It definitely rates 5 out of 5 stars. I picked this edition up sometime around the time the film was being released. The book got mixed in box of other books during my last military move and sat unread until its recent rediscovery today. Since Fitzgerald was known more for his realism, I was surprised when I first heard about this story and its science fiction leanings. Furthermore, I was skeptical. I wondered if a realist could do justice to a scifi story. Fitzgerald did a wonderful job with the subject and the story. The good: The story flows with very few disconnects. Fitzgerald did a masterful job of telling the story of a man whose life is lived in reverse. The bad: The story is set up in 11 mini-chapters. For a story of only 52 pages, this was a little unnecessary. Overall, it is a very well written story.
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The formatting for this is terrible. Do yourself a favor and buy a different copy just to make it easier to read.
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