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This Side of Paradise

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Overview

ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP

Published when he was twenty-three years old, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise, established him as the golden boy of the dawning Jazz Age. As a chronicle of youth, no other literary work remains as revealing—or as bitingly relevant.

THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:

• A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information

• A chronology...

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Overview

ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP

Published when he was twenty-three years old, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise, established him as the golden boy of the dawning Jazz Age. As a chronicle of youth, no other literary work remains as revealing—or as bitingly relevant.

THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:

• A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information

• A chronology of the author’s life and work

• A timeline of significant events that provides the book’s historical context

• An outline of key themes and plot points to guide the reader’s own interpretations

• Detailed explanatory notes

• Critical analysis and modern perspectives on the work

• Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction

• A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader’s experience

Simon & Schuster Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world’s finest books to their full potential.

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.”
The New York Times
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: 9781439198988
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Series: Enriched Classics Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: 3rd Edition, Enriched Classic
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896, attended Princeton University, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and the couple divided their time among New York, Paris, and the Riviera, becoming a part of the American expatriate circle that included Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos. Fitzgerald was a major new literary voice, and his masterpieces include The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of forty-four, while working on The Love of the Last Tycoon. For his sharp social insight and breathtaking lyricism, Fitzgerald is known as one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.

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 naïve 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.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 24, 1896
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Death:
      December 21, 1940

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER I

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 "Encyclopædia Britannica," grew wealthy at thirty through the deaths 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 even to 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 him — this 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 Lower 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 "Fêtes 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 awhile, 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 awe-struck, 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. They rejoiced, for she was a brave raconteuse, but many were the keys turned in sideboard locks that night against the possible defection of little Bobby or Barbara....

These domestic pilgrimages were invariably in state: two maids, the private car, or Mr. Blaine when available, and, very often, a physician. When Amory had the whooping cough four disgusted specialists glared at each other hunched around his bed; when he took scarlet fever the number of attendants, including physicians and nurses, totalled fourteen. However, blood being thicker than broth, he was pulled through.

The Blaines were attached to no city. They were the Blaines-of-Lake-Geneva; they had quite enough relatives to serve in place of friends, and an enviable standing from Pasadena to Cape Cod. But Beatrice grew more and more prone to like only new acquaintances, as there were certain stories, such as the history of her constitution and its many amendments, and her memories of her years abroad, that it was necessary for her to repeat at regular intervals. Like Freudian dreams they must be thrown off, else they would sweep in and lay siege to her nerves.

Beatrice was critical about American women, especially the floating population of ex-Westerners.

"They have accents, my dear," she told Amory. "Not Southern accents or Boston accents, not an accent attached to any locality, just accent" — she became dreamy. "They pick up old, moth-eaten London accents that are down on their luck and have to be used by someone. They talk as an English butler might after several years in a Chicago grand opera company." She became almost incoherent — "Suppose — time in every Western woman's life — she feels her husband is prosperous enough for her to have — accent — they try to impress me, my dear —"

Though she thought of her body as a mass of frailties, she considered her soul quite as ill, and therefore important in her life. She had once been a Catholic, but discovering that priests were infinitely more attentive when she was in process of losing or regaining faith in Mother Church, she maintained an enchantingly wavering attitude. Often she deplored the bourgeois quality of the American Catholic clergy and was quite sure that had she lived in the shadow of the great Continental cathedrals her soul would still be a thin flame on the mighty altar of Rome. Still, next to doctors, priests were her favorite sport.

"Ah, Bishop Wiston," she would declare, "I do not want to talk of myself. I can imagine the stream of hysterical women fluttering at your doors, beseeching you to be simpatico" — then after an interlude filled by the clergyman — "but my mood — is — oddly dissimilar."

Only to bishops and above did she divulge her clerical romance. When she had first returned to her country there had been a pagan, Swinburnian young man in Asheville, for whose passionate kisses and unsentimental conversation she had taken a decided penchant — they had discussed the matter pro and con with an intellectual romancing quite devoid of soppiness. Eventually she had decided to marry for background, and the young pagan from Asheville had gone through a spiritual crisis, joined the Catholic Church, and was now — Monsignor Darcy.

"Indeed, Mrs. Blaine, he is still delightful company — quite the cardinal's right-hand man."

Amory will go to him one day, I know," breathed the beautiful lady, "and Monsignor Darcy will understand him as he understood me."

Amory became thirteen, rather tall and slender and more than ever on to his Celtic mother. He had tutored occasionally — the idea being that he was to "keep up," at each place "taking up the work where he left off," yet as no tutor ever found the place he left off, his mind was still in very good shape. What a few more years of this life would have made of him is problematical. However, four hours out from land, Italy bound, with Beatrice, his appendix burst, probably from too many meals in bed, and after a series of frantic telegrams to Europe and America, to the amazement of the passengers the great ship slowly wheeled around and returned to New York to deposit Amory at the pier. You will admit that if it was not life it was magnificent.

After the operation Beatrice had a nervous breakdown that bore a suspicious resemblance to delirium tremens, and Amory was left in Minneapolis, destined to spend the ensuing two years with his aunt and uncle. There the crude, vulgar air of Western civilization first catches him — in his underwear, so to speak.

A Kiss For Amory.

His lip curled when he read it.

"I am going to have a bobbing party," it said, "on Thursday, December the seventeenth, at five o'clock, and I would like it very much if you could come.

Yours Truly,

R.S.V.P.

Myra St. Claire."

He had been two months in Minneapolis, and his chief struggle had been the concealing from "the other guys at school" how particularly superior he felt himself to be, yet this conviction was built upon shifting sands. He had shown off one day in French class (he was in senior French class) to the utter confusion of Mr. Reardon, whose accent Amory damned contemptuously, and to the delight of the class. Mr. Reardon, who had spent several weeks in Paris ten years before, took his revenge on the verbs, whenever he had his book open. But another time Amory showed off in history class, with quite disastrous results, for the boys there were his own age, and they shrilled innuendoes at each other all the following week:

"Aw — I b'lieve, doncherknow, the Umuricun revolution was lawgely an affair of the middul clawses," or

"Washington came of very good blood — aw, quite good — I b'lieve."

Amory ingeniously tried to retrieve himself by blundering on purpose. Two years before he had commenced a history of the United States which, though it only got as far as the Colonial Wars, had been pronounced by his mother completely enchanting.

His chief disadvantage lay in athletics, but as soon as he discovered that it was the touchstone of power and popularity at school, he began to make furious, persistent efforts to excel in the winter sports, and with his ankles aching and bending in spite of his efforts, he skated valiantly around the Lorelei rink every afternoon, wondering how soon he would be able to carry a hockey-stick without getting it inexplicably tangled in his skates.

The invitation to Miss Myra St. Claire's bobbing party spent the morning in his coat pocket, where it had an intense physical affair with a dusty piece of peanut brittle. During the afternoon he brought it to light with a sigh, and after some consideration and a preliminary draft in the back of "Collar and Daniell's First Year Latin," composed an answer:

My dear Miss St. Claire,: —

Your truly charming envitation for the evening of next Thursday evening was truly delightful to recieve this morning. I will be charm and inchanted indeed to present my compliments on next Thursday evening.

Faithfully,

Amory Blaine.

On Thursday, therefore, he walked pensively along the slippery, shovel-scraped sidewalks and came in sight of Myra's house on the half-hour after five, a lateness which he fancied his mother would have favored. He waited on the doorstep with his eyes nonchalantly half-closed and planned his entrance with precision. He would cross the floor, not too hastily, to Mrs. St. Claire, and say with exactly the correct modulation:

"My dear Mrs. St. Claire, I'm frightfully sorry to be late, but my maid" — he paused there and realized he would be quoting — "but my uncle and I had to see a fella — Yes, I've met your enchanting daughter at dancing-school."

Then he would shake hands, using that slight, half-foreign bow with all the starchy little females, and nod to the fellas who would be standing 'round paralyzed into rigid groups for mutual protection.

A butler (one of the three in Minneapolis) swung open the door. Amory stepped inside and divested himself of cap and coat. He was mildly surprised not to hear the shrill squawk of conversation from the next room, and he decided it must be quite formal. He approved of that — as he approved of the butler.

"Miss Myra," he said.

To his surprise the butler grinned horribly.

"Oh Yeah," he declared. "She's here." He was unaware that his failure to be cockney was ruining his standing.

Amory considered him coldly.

"But," continued the butler, his voice rising unnecessarily, "she's the only one what is here. The party's gone."

Amory gaped in sudden horror.

"What?"

"She's been waitin' for Amory Blaine. That's you, ain't it? Her mother says that if you showed up by five-thirty you two was to go after 'em in the Packard."

Amory's despair was crystallized by the appearance of Myra herself, bundled to the ears in a polo coat, her face plainly sulky, her voice pleasant only with difficulty.

"'Lo, Amory."

"'Lo, Myra." He had described the state of his vitality.

"Well — you got here, anyways."

"Well — I'll tell you. I guess you don't know about the auto accident," he romanced.

Myra's eyes opened wide.

"Who was it to?"

"Well," he continued desperately, "Uncle 'n Aunt 'n I."

"Was anyone killed?"

Amory paused and then nodded.

"Your uncle?"—alarm.

"Oh, no — just a horse — a sorta grey horse."

At this point the Erse butler snickered.

"Probably killed the engine," he suggested. Amory would have put him on the rack without a scruple.

"We'll go now," said Myra coolly. "You see, Amory, the bobs were ordered for five and everybody was here, so we couldn't wait —"

"Well, I couldn't help it, could I?"

"— so Mama said for me to wait till ha'past five. We'll catch the bob before it gets to the Minnehaha Club, Amory."

Amory's shredded poise dropped from him. He pictured the happy party jingling along snowy streets, the appearance of the limousine, the horrible public descent of him and Myra before sixty reproachful eyes, his apology — a real one this time. He sighed aloud.

"What?" inquired Myra.

"Nothing. I was just yawning. Are we going to surely catch up with 'em before they get there?" He was encouraging a faint hope that they might slip into the Minnehaha Club and meet the others there, be found in blaseé seclusion before the fire and quite regain his lost attitude.

"Oh, sure Mike, we'll catch 'em all right — let's hurry."

He became conscious of his stomach. As they stepped into the machine he hurriedly slapped the paint of diplomacy over a rather box-like plan he had conceived. It was based upon some "trade-lasts" gleaned at dancing school, to the effect that he was "awful good-looking and English, sort of."

"Myra," he said, lowering his voice and choosing his words carefully, "I beg a thousand pardons. Can you ever forgive me?"

She regarded him gravely, his intent green eyes, his mouth, that to her thirteen-year-old, Arrow-collar taste was the quintessence of romance. Yes, Myra could forgive him very easily.

"Why — yes — sure."

He looked at her again, and then dropped his eyes. He had lashes.

"I'm awful," he said sadly. "I'm diff'runt. I don't know why I make faux pas. 'Cause I don't care, I s'pose." Then, recklessly: "I been smoking too much. I've got t'bacca heart."

Myra pictured an all-night tobacco debauch, with Amory pale and reeling from the effect of nicotined lungs. She gave a little gasp.

"Oh, Amory, don't smoke. You'll stunt your growth!"

"I don't care," he persisted gloomily. "I gotta. I got the habit. I've done a lot of things that if my fambly knew" — he hesitated, giving her imagination time to picture dark horrors — "I went to the burlesque show last week."

Myra was quite overcome, tie turned the green eyes on her again.

"You're the only girl in town I like much," he exclaimed in a rush of sentiment. "You're simpatico."

Myra was not sure that she was, but it sounded stylish though vaguely improper.

Thick dusk had descended outside, and as the limousine made a sudden turn she was jolted against him; their hands touched.

"You shouldn't smoke, Amory," she whispered. "Don't you know that?"

He shook his head.

"Nobody cares."

Myra hesitated.

"I care."

Something stirred within Amory.

"Oh, yes, you do! — you got a crush on Froggy Parker. I guess everybody knows that."

"No, I haven't," very slowly.

A silence, while Amory thrilled. There was something fascinating about Myra, shut away here cosily from the dim, chill air; Myra, a little bundle of clothes, with strands of yellow hair curling out from under her skating cap.

"— because I've got a crush, too —" He paused, for he heard in the distance the sound of young laughter, and, peering through the frosted glass along the lamp-lit street, he made out the dark outline of the bobbing party. He must act quickly. He reached over with a violent, jerky effort and clutched Myra's hand — her thumb, to be exact.

"Tell him to go to the Minnehaha straight," he whispered. "I wanna talk to you — I gotta talk to you."

Myra made out the party ahead, had an instant vision of her mother, and then — alas for convention — glanced into the eyes beside.

"Turn down this side street, Richard, and drive straight to the Minnehaha Club!" she cried through the speaking tube. Amory sank back against the cushions with a sigh of relief.

"I can kiss her," he thought. "I'll bet I can. I'll bet I can!"

Overhead the sky was half-crystalline, half-misty, and the night around was chill and vibrant with rich tension. From the country club steps the roads stretched away, dark creases on the white blanket, huge heaps of snow lining the sides like the tracks of giant moles. They lingered for a moment on the steps and watched the white holiday moon.

"Pale moons like that one" — Amory made a vague gesture — "make people myst&#233rieuse. You look like a young witch with her cap off and her hair sorta mussed" — her hands clutched at her hair — "Oh, leave it, it looks good."

They drifted up the stairs and Myra led the way into the little den of his dreams, where a cosy fire was burning before a big sink-down couch. A few years later this was to be a great stage for Amory, a cradle for many an emotional crisis. Now they talked for a moment about bobbing parties.

"There's always a bunch of shy fellas," he commented, "sittin' at the tail of the bob, sorta lurkin' an' whisperin' an' pushin' each other off. Then there's always some crazy cross-eyed girl" — he gave a terrifying imitation — "she's always talkin' hard, sorta, to the chaperone."

"You're such a funny boy," puzzled Myra.

"How d'y' mean?" Amory gave immediate attention, on his own ground at last.

"Oh — always talking about crazy things. Why don't you come skiing with Marylyn and I tomorrow?"

"I don't like girls in the daytime," he said shortly, and then, thinking this a bit abrupt, he added: "But I like you." He cleared his throat. "I like you first and second and third."

Myra's eyes became dreamy. What a story this would make to tell Marylyn! — here on the couch with this wonderful-looking boy — the little fire — the sense that they were alone in the great building —

Myra capitulated. The atmosphere was too appropriate.

"I like you the first twenty-five," she confessed, her voice trembling, "and Froggy Parker twenty-sixth."

Froggy had fallen twenty-five places in one hour. As yet he had not even noticed it.

But Amory, being on the spot, leaned over quickly and kissed Myra's cheek. He had never kissed a girl before, and he tasted his lips curiously, as if he had munched some new fruit. Then their lips brushed like young wild flowers in the wind.

"We're awful," rejoiced Myra gently. She slipped her hand into his; her head drooped against his shoulder. Sudden revulsion seized Amory, disgust, loathing for the whole incident. He desired frantically to be away, never to see Myra again, never to kiss anyone; he became conscious of his face and hers, of their clinging hands, and he wanted to creep out of his body and hide somewhere safe out of sight, up in the corner of his mind.

"Kiss me again — "Her voice came out of a great void.

"I don't want to," he heard himself saying. There was another pause.

"I don't want to!" he repeated passionately.

Myra sprang up, her cheeks pink with bruised vanity, the great bow on the back of her head trembling sympathetically.

"I hate you!" she cried. "Don't you ever dare to speak to me again!"

"What?" stammered Amory.

"I'll tell Mama you kissed me! I will too! I will too! I'll tell Mama, and she won't let me play with you!"

Amory rose and stared at her helplessly, as though she were a new animal of whose presence on the earth he had not heretofore been aware.

The door opened suddenly, and Myra's mother appeared on the threshold, fumbling with her lorgnette.

"Well," she began, adjusting it benignantly, "the man at the desk told me you two children were up here — How do you do, Amory."

Amory watched Myra and waited for the crash — but none came. The pout faded, the high pink subsided, and Myra's voice was placid as a summer lake when she answered her mother.

"Oh, we started so late, Mama, that I thought we might as well —"

He heard from below the shrieks of laughter and smelled the vapid odor of hot chocolate and tea-cakes as he silently followed mother and daughter downstairs. The sound of the graphophone mingled with the voices of many girls humming the air, and a faint glow was born and spread over him:

"Casey-Jones — mounted to the cab-un

Casey-Jones — 'th his orders in his hand

Casey-Jones — mounted to the cab-un

Took his farewell journey to the prom-ised land."

Snapshots of the Young Egotist.

Amory spent nearly two years in Minneapolis. The first winter he wore moccasins that were born yellow but after many applications of oil and dirt assumed their mature color, a dirty, greenish brown; he wore a grey plaid mackinaw coat and a red toboggan cap. His dog, Count Del Monte, ate the red cap, so his uncle gave him a grey one that pulled down over his face. The trouble with this one was that you breathed into it and your breath froze. One day the darn thing froze his cheek. He rubbed snow on his cheek, but it turned bluish-black just the same.

The Count Del Monte ate a box of bluing once, but it didn't hurt him. Later, however, he lost his mind and ran madly up the street, bumping into fences, rolling in gutters and pursuing his eccentric course out of Amory's life. Amory cried on his bed.

"Poor little Count," he cried. "Oh poor little Count!"

After several months he suspected Count of a fine piece of emotional acting.

Amory and Frog Parker considered that the greatest line in literature occurred in Act III of "Ars&#232ne Lupin." They sat in the first row at the Wednesday and Saturday matin&#233es. The line was —

"If one can't be a great artist or a great soldier, the next best thing is to be a great criminal."

Amory fell in love again and wrote a poem. This was it:

"Marylyn and Sallee,

Those are the girls for me.

Marylyn stands above

Sallee in that sweet, deep love."

He was interested in whether McGovern of Minnesota would make the first or second All-American, how to do the card-pass, how to do the coin-pass, chameleon ties, how babies were born, and whether Three-finger Brown was really a better pitcher than Christy Mathewson.

Among other things he read: "For the Honor of the School," "Little Women" (twice), "The Common Law," "Sapho," "Dangerous Dan McGrew," "The Broad Highway" (three times), "The Fall of the House of Usher," "Three Weeks," "Mary Ware, the Little Colonel's Chum," "Gunga Din," "The Police Gazette," and "Jim-Jam Jems."

He had all the Henty biasses in history, and was particularly fond of the cheerful murder stories of Mary Roberts Rinehart.

School ruined his French and gave him a distaste for standard authors. His masters considered him idle, unreliable and superficially clever.

He collected locks of hair from many girls. He wore the rings of several. Finally he could borrow no more rings, owing to his nervous habit of chewing them out of shape. This, it seemed, usually aroused the jealous suspicions of the next borrower.

All through the summer months Amory and Frog Parker went each week to the stock company. Afterwards they would stroll home in the balmy air of August night, dreaming along Hennepin and Nicollet Avenues through the gay crowd. Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory, and when faces of the throng turned toward him and ambiguous eyes stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of expressions and walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalts of fourteen.

Always, after he was in bed, there were voices — indefinite, fading, enchanting — just outside his window, and before he fell asleep he would dream one of his favorite waking dreams: the one about becoming a great half-back or the one about the Japanese invasion when he was rewarded by being made the youngest general in the world. It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being. This too was quite characteristic of Amory.

Code of The Young Egotist.

Before he was summoned back to Lake Geneva, he had appeared, shy but inwardly glowing, in his first long trousers, set off by a purple accordion tie and a "Belmont" collar with the edges unassailably meeting, purple socks, and handkerchief with a purple border peeping from his breast pocket. But more than that, he had formulated his first philosophy, a code to live by, which, as near as it can be named, was a sort of aristocratic egotism.

He had realized that his best interests were bound up with those of a certain variant, changing person whose label, in order that his past might always be identified with him, was Amory Blaine. Amory marked himself a fortunate youth, capable of infinite expansion for good or evil. He did not consider himself a "strong char'c'ter" but relied on his facility (learn things sorta quick) and his superior mentality (read a lotta deep books). He was proud of the fact that he could never become a mechanical or scientific genius. From no other heights was he debarred.

Physically. — Amory thought that he was exceedingly handsome. He was. He fancied himself an athlete of possibilities and a supple dancer.

Socially. — Here his condition was, perhaps, most dangerous. He granted himself personality, charm, magnetism, poise, the power of dominating all contemporary males, the gift of fascinating all women.

Mentally. — Complete, unquestioned superiority.

Now a confession will have to be made. Amory had rather a Puritan conscience. Not that he yielded to it — later in life he almost completely slew it — but at fifteen it made him consider himself a great deal worse than other boys...unscrupulousness...the desire to influence people in almost every way, even for evil...a certain coldness and lack of affection, amounting sometimes to cruelty...a shifting sense of honor...an unholy selfishness...a puzzled, furtive interest in everything concerning sex.

There was, also, a curious strain of weakness running crosswise through his make-up...a harsh phrase from the lips of an older boy (older boys usually detested him) was liable to sweep him off his poise into surly sensitiveness or timid stupidity...he was a slave to his own moods and he felt that though he was capable of recklessness and audacity, he possessed neither courage, perseverance nor self-respect.

Vanity tempered with self-suspicion if not self-knowledge, a sense of people as automatons to his will, a desire to "pass" as many boys as possible and get to a vague top of the world...with this background did Amory drift into adolescence.

Preparatory to The Great Adventure.

The train slowed up with midsummer languor at Lake Geneva, and Amory caught sight of his mother waiting in her electric on the gravelled station drive. It was an ancient electric, one of the early types and painted grey. The sight of her sitting there, slenderly erect, and of her face, where beauty and dignity combined, melting to a dreamy recollected smile, filled him with a sudden great pride of her. As they kissed coolly and he stepped into the electric, he felt a quick fear lest he had lost the requisite charm to measure up to her.

"Dear boy — You're so tall...look behind and see if there's anything coming...."

She looked left and right, she slipped cautiously into a speed of two miles an hour, beseeching Amory to act as sentinel: and at one busy crossing she made him get out and run ahead to signal her forward like a traffic policeman. Beatrice was what might be termed a careful driver.

"You are tall — but you're still very handsome — you've skipped the awkward age, or is that sixteen; perhaps it's fourteen or fifteen; I can never remember; but you've skipped it."

"Don't embarrass me," murmured Amory.

"But my dear boy, what odd clothes! They look as if they were a set — don't they? Is your underwear purple too?"

Amory grunted impolitely.

"You must go to Brooks and get some really nice suits. Oh we'll have a talk tonight or perhaps tomorrow night. I want to tell you about your heart — you've probably been neglecting your heart — and you don't know."

Amory thought how superficial was the recent overlay of his own generation. Aside from a minute shyness he felt that the old cynical kinship with his mother had not been one bit broken. Yet for the first few days he wandered about the gardens and along the shore in a state of super-loneliness, finding a lethargic content in smoking "Bull" at the garage with one of the chauffeurs.

The sixty acres of the estate were dotted with old and new summer houses and many fountains and white benches that came suddenly into sight from foliage-hung hiding-places; there was a great and constantly increasing family of white cats that prowled the many flower-beds and were silhouetted suddenly at night against the darkening trees. It was on one of the shadowy

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Table of Contents

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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?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 78 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(24)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 78 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 24, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    This is what Fitzgerald should be known for!

    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!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 26, 2011

    Not a clear ebook

    Download another version, this one has too many typos to be clearly understood.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 12, 2012

    Fascinating Glimpse into the 1920s

    Fitzgerald's semi-autobiographical novel was utterly fascinating; as a 22 year old, I find it baffling that someone my age could have written such a cutting and spot-on description of everyday life. I could go into the fact that he was one of the first truly modern authors, how he is one of America's greatest authors, etc. but what I found most powerful was that his work is still relevant today. I've been in similar situations, I've felt the same way Amory felt (in relation to being better than everyone, in relation to "acting" at being into someone) which serves to highlight how timeless this novel truly is. I was captivated from start to end.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2006

    An American Classic

    F. Scott Fitzgerald's picture of the 'jazz age' is not unlike much of today's more youthful generations. While this book is overshadowed by 'The Great Gatsby'it definitely should be read. It gives us a little insight to what the generation before WWI was up to before the depression and WWII.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fitzgerald is one of the staple writers of American Literature,

    Fitzgerald is one of the staple writers of American Literature, especially for Modern American Literature. Fitzgerald is probably best known for his Beautiful and the Damned and The Great Gatsby, both of which are superb books.
    I feel like I am losing a sense of who I am by writing a review of a great writer here. Who am I to judge Fitzgerald in all his greatness and the skills he has mastered as a superb writer? I, who has not published anything is judging Fitzgerald's first novel. How pretentious?
    IF I am not wrong Fitzgerald wrote this book when he was in his early twenties and still inexperienced. However I feel that we must judge each book separately with it's own merits and not against other comparisons; whether it be against other writers or the other works of that particular writer. It is true there are some flaws with this book; but let's be honest, which book doesn't? There are no perfect books on which everyone will agree on. Everyone's best of classics will always be different.

    I however love this book. The characters are well designed and it reflects the 1920s through a young artist's eyes who is in the work of becoming one, though not yet one. The heartaches, the difficulties, mentalities and thought patters are carefully observed and presented, not always in the clearest way, however always there. Amory's awakening feels real, happening not in a fast paced story that seems to be based on too many coincidences. We don't just hit a wall and then a bulb doesn't go off in our heads. The influence of his parents, particularly of his mother, his religious mentor, his friends and the countless women who go in and out of his life. They all shape him separately in different directions in which his confusion becomes profound and relatable. Descriptions, monologues are enlightening, creative and original. No body does the Jazz era better than Fitzgerald, with hits glam and it's gloom.

    So, what was wrong with it? I don't think at any given time a student at Yale could be so carefree without having to work so hard at his studies. Sometimes the plot doesn't feel as established, solid and well planned out. There aren't always particularly something happening, or something being set up. (not that all plots needs to be this way, however for a novel of this length, sometimes it makes a reader feel like the writer is just dragging it on and is not authorized) to write the book. Some characters don't always seem to particularly have a purpose of being there. The book could have been shorter, the space utilized more efficiently. All in all though, it's a great book that is to be recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2006

    Wowza!

    This book is such a classic! In the first chapter, which is conveinently segregated into titled bits, I got this feeling of literary genius. I immediately got this groovy Catcher and the Rye sensation right when the main character, Amory Blaine, began an in depth analysis upon all his education. Amory Blaine is such an amazingly conceited and zealous character he thinks he is completely amazing when in reality he is a lazy optimist, this is where the reader picks up hillarious emotions that allow loud outbursts of laughter. I absolutely adore this novel what a feat from F. Scott Fitzgerald. I dare yell OUTSTANDING!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2014

    For some reason characters always drunk has no appeal

    And very much so includes that paris bunch of "lost" they seemed able to always find a drink

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Scoure

    Yo ayone here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Sincerely

    Sincerely,

    The Suicidal Bastard, Miss Bit<_>ChyPants, and the Weird One.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Amanda

    "So I'm the Weird One? Awesomesause." She disaflopped.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Gale

    *walks in laughing * wow this is awesome *laughs

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Amanda to maddi add-on

    Timey wimey.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Maddi

    No

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Rose

    "You know what I hate? When people use your name for idiotic sh<_>it like drama. O-O This is why I don't go to prom's or party's."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Lorin

    Looks at Scott "Looks like it huh?" She puts her hair over her shoulders

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Brynn

    She sighed and instead of putting on pop music, she put on Stache by Zedd

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Zoe

    "What Keith?"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Jaeger

    Dispoofed.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    April

    Dispoofed. Baiii dessies...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Ansley

    I am

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 78 Customer Reviews

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