This Side of Paradise

Overview

Published in 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, became the novel that defined an era and launched his literary career. This is the story of Amory Blaine, "romantic egotist," and his journey from prep school to Princeton to the First World War. This dazzling chronicle of youth and the Jazz Age remains bitingly relevant decades later.

The story of Amory Blaine's adolescence and undergraduate days at Princeton, This Side of Paradise captures...

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This Side of Paradise

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Overview

Published in 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, became the novel that defined an era and launched his literary career. This is the story of Amory Blaine, "romantic egotist," and his journey from prep school to Princeton to the First World War. This dazzling chronicle of youth and the Jazz Age remains bitingly relevant decades later.

The story of Amory Blaine's adolescence and undergraduate days at Princeton, This Side of Paradise captures the essence of an American generation struggling to define itself in the aftermath of World War I and the destruction of "the old order."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fitzgerald's first novel, about a coterie of Princeton socialites, appears in a 75th anniversary edition. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“As nearly perfect as such a work could be . . . The glorious spirit of abounding youth glows throughout this fascinating tale. Amory, the romantic egotist, is essentially American.” –The New York Times

“[A] bravura display of literary promise . . . Fitzgerald’s prose is capable of soaring like a violin, and of moving his readers with understated husky notes as well as with notes of piercing purity . . . Fitzgerald knew that glamour was bound to fail, that there is an ineradicable human instinct for it which is utterly mistaken.” –from the Introduction by Craig Raine

From Barnes & Noble
This story of a privileged but aimless young man traces his formative years in the Midwest and at Princeton, then follows him as he is dumped unceremoniously into WWI and an everyday world at complete odds with his lofty aspirations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684843780
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 7/14/1998
  • Series: Scribner Paperback Fiction Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 418,988
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and educated at the Newman School and at Princeton. This Side of Paradise, his first novel, was published in 1920 and transformed him virtually overnight into a spokesman for his generation and a prophet of the Jazz Age. That same year, he married Zelda Sayre, and the two became America’s most celebrated expatriates, dividing their time between New York, Paris, and the Riviera during the twenties. Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, was published in 1925, and Tender Is the Night in 1934. After Scott and Zelda were forced by money and health problems to return to the United States, Fitzgerald became a writer for Hollywood movie studios.  He died while working on his unfinished novel of Hollywood, The Last Tycoon. His other works include Flappers and Philosophers (1920), The Beautiful and Damned (1922), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), All the Sad Young Men (1926), and Taps at Reveille (1935).

The country’s leading authority on F. Scott Fitzgerald for more than five decades, Matthew J. Bruccoli was born in the Bronx in 1931. He was Emily Brown Jefferies Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina and author or editor of more than fifty books, including the standard Fitzgerald biography, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur. Among his other subjects were Ernest Hemingway, John O’Hara, Thomas Wolfe, James Gould Cozzens, and Ross Macdonald, and he edited the letters and notebooks of Vladimir Nabokov. He died in 2008.

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Read an Excerpt

Book One

The Romantic Egotist

Chapter 1

Amory, Son of Beatrice

Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while. His father, an ineffectual, inarticulate man with a taste for Byron and a habit of drowsing over the Encyclopaedia Britannica, grew wealthy at thirty through the death of two elder brothers, successful Chicago brokers, and in the first flush of feeling that the world was his, went to Bar Harbor and met Beatrice O'Hara. In consequence, Stephen Blaine handed down to posterity his height of just under six feet and his tendency to waver at crucial moments, these two abstractions appearing in his son Amory. For many years he hovered in the background of his family's life, an unassertive figure with a face half-obliterated by lifeless, silky hair, continually occupied in "taking care" of his wife, continually harassed by the idea that he didn't and couldn't understand her.

But Beatrice Blaine! There was a woman! Early pictures taken on her father's estate at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, or in Rome at the Sacred Heart Convent—an educational extravagance that in her youth was only for the daughters of the exceptionally wealthy—showed the exquisite delicacy of her features, the consummate art and simplicity of her clothes. A brilliant education she had her youth passed in renaissance glory, she was versed in the latest gossip of the Older Roman Families; known by name as a fabulously wealthy American girl to Cardinal Vitori and Queen Margherita and more subtle celebrities that one must have had some culture evento have heard of. She learned in England to prefer whiskey and soda to wine, and her small talk was broadened in two senses during a winter in Vienna. All in all Beatrice O'Hara absorbed the sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again; a tutelage measured by the number of things and people one could be contemptuous of and charming about; a culture rich in all arts and traditions, barren of all ideas, in the last of those days when the great gardener clipped the inferior roses to produce one perfect bud.

In her less important moments she returned to America, met Stephen Blaine and married himthis almost entirely because she was a little bit weary, a little bit sad. Her only child was carried through a tiresome season and brought into the world on a spring day in ninety-six.

When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion for her. He was an auburn-haired boy, with great, handsome eyes which he would grow up to in time, a facile imaginative mind and a taste for fancy dress. From his fourth to his tenth year he did the country with his mother in her father's private car, from Coronado, where his mother became so bored that she had a nervous breakdown in a fashionable hotel, down to Mexico City, where she took a mild, almost epidemic consumption. This trouble pleased her, and later she made use of it as an intrinsic part of her atmosphere especially after several astounding bracers.

So, while more or less fortunate little rich boys were defying governesses on the beach at Newport, or being spanked or tutored or read to from "Do and Dare," or "Frank on the Mississippi," Amory was biting acquiescent bell-boys in the Waldorf, outgrowing a natural repugnance to chamber music and symphonies, and deriving a highly specialized education from his mother.

"Amory."

"Yes, Beatrice." (Such a quaint name for his mother; she encouraged it.)"Dear, don't think of getting out of bed yet. I've always suspected that early rising in early life makes one nervous. Clothilde is having your breakfast brought up."

"All right."

"I am feeling very old today, Amory," she would sigh, her face a rare cameo of pathos, her voice exquisitely modulated, her hands as facile as Bernhardt's. "My nerves are on edge—on edge. We must leave this terrifying place tomorrow and go searching for sunshine."Amory's penetrating green eyes would look out through tangled hair at his mother. Even at this age he had no illusions about her.

"Amory."

"Oh, yes."

"I want you to take a red-hot bath—as hot as you can bear it, and just relax your nerves. You can read in the tub if you wish."

She fed him sections of the "Fetes Galantes" before he was ten; at eleven he could talk glibly, if rather reminiscently, of Brahms and Mozart and Beethoven. One afternoon, when left alone in the hotel at Hot Springs, he sampled his mother's apricot cordial, and as the taste pleased him, he became quite tipsy. This was fun for a while, but he essayed a cigarette in his exaltation, and succumbed to a vulgar, plebeian reaction. Though this incident horrified Beatrice, it also secretly amused her and became part of what in a later generation would have been termed her "line."

"This son of mine," he heard her tell a room full of awestruck, admiring women one day, "is entirely sophisticated and quite charming—but delicate—we're all delicate; here, you know." Her hand was radiantly outlined against her beautiful bosom; then sinking her voice to a whisper, she told them of the apricot cordial.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

BOOK ONE: THE ROMANTIC EGOTIST

CHAPTER

I. Amory, Son of Beatrice

II. Spires and Gargoyles

III. The Egotist Considers

IV. Narcissus Off Duty

[Interlude: May 1917-February 1919.]

BOOK TWO: THE EDUCATION OF A PERSONAGE

CHAPTER

I. The Debutante

II. Experiments in Convalescence

III. Young Irony

IV. The Supercilious Sacrifice

V. The Egotist Becomes a Personage

Preface

THIS SIDE OF PARADISE

A Note on the Text

Further Reading

Notes

A Brief Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Foreword

1. In her introduction, Susan Orlean says that, like everything else Fitzgerald wrote, This Side of Paradise is “a treatise about class.” Do you agree? How does Fitzgerald’s preoccupation with class inform his writing? Why is Amory so obsessed with social status?

2. Many critics have dismissed the novel’s episodic structure. What do you think of Fitzgerald’s organization of plot and theme? Does his arrangement, or lack thereof, in any way effectively convey the restlessness of Amory and his contemporaries? What did you ultimately come away with at the novel’s conclusion?

3. Discuss the importance of all things romantic in the novel. Are the romantic pursuits of Amory and his friends primarily satisfying or disillusioning? How does money, or the lack of it, play a part in the pursuit of love? Would you characterize Amory as cynical about love?

4. When first published, This Side of Paradise defined and catalyzed the youth movement of the 1920s. How does Fitzgerald’s forthrightness on the vagaries of youth in 1920 strike you as a reader today?

5. At the conclusion of the novel, Fitzgerald describes a new generation “grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.” To what extent is this true? What part does World War I play in the consciousness and actions of Fitzgerald’s characters?

6. Discuss the significance of religion in the novel. Amory often raises questions of faith, good versus evil, and sacrifice. What does he conclude? What role does Monsignor Darcy play in Amory’s developing moral identity? What is Amory’s vocation?

7. Is This Side ofParadise in any way a tragic novel? How does it attempt to explain tragedy or loss? Do you think Fitzgerald intended a mournful or ultimately hopeful perspective? Why or why not?

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Reading Group Guide

1. In her introduction, Susan Orlean says that, like everything else Fitzgerald wrote, This Side of Paradise is “a treatise about class.” Do you agree? How does Fitzgerald’s preoccupation with class inform his writing? Why is Amory so obsessed with social status?

2. Many critics have dismissed the novel’s episodic structure. What do you think of Fitzgerald’s organization of plot and theme? Does his arrangement, or lack thereof, in any way effectively convey the restlessness of Amory and his contemporaries? What did you ultimately come away with at the novel’s conclusion?

3. Discuss the importance of all things romantic in the novel. Are the romantic pursuits of Amory and his friends primarily satisfying or disillusioning? How does money, or the lack of it, play a part in the pursuit of love? Would you characterize Amory as cynical about love?

4. When first published, This Side of Paradise defined and catalyzed the youth movement of the 1920s. How does Fitzgerald’s forthrightness on the vagaries of youth in 1920 strike you as a reader today?

5. At the conclusion of the novel, Fitzgerald describes a new generation “grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.” To what extent is this true? What part does World War I play in the consciousness and actions of Fitzgerald’s characters?

6. Discuss the significance of religion in the novel. Amory often raises questions of faith, good versus evil, and sacrifice. What does he conclude? What role does Monsignor Darcy play in Amory’s developing moral identity? What is Amory’s vocation?

7. Is This Side ofParadise in any way a tragic novel? How does it attempt to explain tragedy or loss? Do you think Fitzgerald intended a mournful or ultimately hopeful perspective? Why or why not?

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2004

    Gorgeous

    This is a young book, but it doesn't disappoint. The prose is absolutely gorgeous. Fitzgerald had a perfect pitch for the language that rivals that of his hero Keats... Of Gatsby and TSOP, Gertrude Stein said: 'Here we are and have read your book [The Great Gatsby] and it is a good book. I like the melody of your dedication ['Once again to Zelda'] it shows that you have a background of beauty and tenderness and that is a comfort. The next good thing is that you write naturally in sentences and that too is a comfort. You write naturally in sentences and one can read all of them and that among other things is a comfort... You make a modern world and a modern orgy strangely enough it never was done until you did it in 'This Side of Paradise.' My belief in 'This Side of Paradise' was alright.'

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    Posted March 20, 2009

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    Posted October 30, 2008

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