This Side of Paradise (Literary Classics Series)

This Side of Paradise (Literary Classics Series)

3.9 69
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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With this first novel the author of The Great Gatsby established himself as an important American novelist and launched a celebrated literary career that was to produce many classics of 20th-century fiction. The semi-autobiographical story of Amory Blaine traces the coming of age of a young man who typifies the "lost generation" of America’s Jazz Age.

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With this first novel the author of The Great Gatsby established himself as an important American novelist and launched a celebrated literary career that was to produce many classics of 20th-century fiction. The semi-autobiographical story of Amory Blaine traces the coming of age of a young man who typifies the "lost generation" of America’s Jazz Age. Fitzgerald’s descriptions of his protagonist’s pampered childhood, experiences at Princeton, love affairs, and sobering confrontations with the harsh realities of World War I reflect much of the author’s own path to maturity. Reviewers took notice of Fitzgerald’s elegant and poignant style, and the book opened up financial and social opportunities that allowed him to pursue a career as a novelist.
At the same time, the book provided Fitzgerald and his new wife, Zelda, with the means of pursuing their tumultuous relationship, the ups and downs of which became almost as famous as his novels. Mingling with the glitterati of the day on the French Riviera, the Fitzgeralds became popular celebrities of the social scene, and their bouts with alcohol and depression, which eventually led to Zelda’s insanity, achieved legendary status.
This Side of Paradise is the brilliant debut of a great novelist, who, perhaps better than any other American writer, captured the fragile, illusory, and tragic aspects of the American dream.

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Prometheus Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.66(d)

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This Side of Paradise

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Prometheus Books

Copyright ©2004 F. Scott Fitzgerald
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1591021448

Chapter One

Book One
The Romantic Egotist
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 for drowsing over the Encyclopædia 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, theconsummate 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 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.

"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.

"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 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 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, 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. But 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 an accent"--she became dreamy. "They pick up old, moth-eaten London accents that are down on their luck and have to be used by some one. 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 conversations 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


Excerpted from This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald Copyright ©2004 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.

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This side of paradise 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
FStopFitz More than 1 year ago
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!
elizabeth alvarez More than 1 year ago
Download another version, this one has too many typos to be clearly understood.
chelseanne23 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Nazire More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When it was published someone famously called this book 'the collected writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald' and the wag who made the quip had a point. Still, it is a beautiful and interesting portrait of a priviledged and Romantic child's coming of age. The passages describing Princeton are the most lyrical. This book showed the world the potential Fitzgerald had for lyrical prose and writing fine novels, potential fulfilled in Gatsby and Tender is the Night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing novel that is very selectively worded. Fitzgerald is a master of the written word, and he never wastes a single one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the Great Gatsby before This Side of Paradise and find it much more understandable and interesting. Overall, this book is much less confusing and the events are mostly in chronological order from the viewpoint of the protagnist, Amory Blain, instead of a characterized narrator. It's a thoughtful book and displays a whole new perspective on things. The time and society at the time is well presented as the main character experiences the triumphs and setbacks so far in his young life around centered around his own 'superior' ideas and ideals. Fitzgerald flowing and elegant writing give life to this book as it's most suitable to Amory Blain whom he most likely wrote autobiographically. It's interesting to go inside someone's head and explor how they think and perceive the world around them, how their ideas change and evolve, especially a romantic egotist's. The ending's a bit lose but it has impact, making you wish it for more while knowing it cannot be so. A fascinating book, yet tangible, it should be read before Great Gatsby which become more comprehensible after This Side of Paradise.
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And very much so includes that paris bunch of "lost" they seemed able to always find a drink
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Timey wimey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks in, her blond hair pulled into an updo, and wears a silvery dress. Her eyes glitter, as she looks around. A small frown forms on her face when she realizes that everyone has a date. She sighs, and walks to the side.
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