This Side of Paradise (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

This Side of Paradise (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable

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This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

If the “Roaring Twenties” are remembered as the era of“flaming youth,” it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who lit the fire. His semi-autobiographical first novel, This Side of Paradise, became an instant best-seller and established an image of seemingly carefree, party-mad young men and women out to create a new morality for a new, post-war America. It traces the early life of Amory Blaine from the end of prep school through Princeton to the start of an uncertain career in New York City.

Alternately self-confident and self-effacing, torn between ambition and idleness, the self-absorbed, immature Amory yearns to run with Princeton’s rich, fast crowd and become one of the “gods” of the campus. Hopelessly romantic, he learns about love and sex from a series of beautiful young “flappers,” women who leave him both exhilarated and devastated. Fitzgerald describes it all in intensely lyrical prose that fills the novel with a heartbreaking sense of longing, as Amory comes to understand that the sweet-scented springtime of his life is fragile and fleeting, disappearing into memory even as he reaches for it.

Sharon G. Carson is Professor Emerita in the English Department at Kent State University, where she has taught for thirty-five years. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on modern and contemporary fiction.

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From Sharon Carson’s Introduction to This Side of Paradise

With the soul of a poet, the ear of a musician, and a psyche inextricably intertwined with that of his culture, F. Scott Fitzgerald was perhaps the last true voice of the romantic American spirit. And in all instances, he sought beyond the constraints of cultural mores and literary conventions to create a body of work that bespeaks its ethos. This Side of Paradise (1920) was Fitzgerald’s first novel, the work that made him the voice of post–World War I America, “the Jazz Age.” The Jazz Age was not just a drastic change in the culture; it was a new dimension in consciousness. During the 1910s and 1920s America underwent a massive paradigm shift, a transition from an era of smug Victorian conformity and certainty to one of confusion and ambiguity called “modernism.” World War I had accelerated the velocity of this change, and Fitzgerald expresses this transition in attitudes early in his 1917 play The Debutante when flapper Helen Halcyon with her cigarettes and silver flask is asked by her father if she is ready to fit into the wide, wide world, and she replies, “No daddy, just taking a more licensed view of it.” The typical 1920’s flapper, Helen doesn’t want to “fit in” to the rigid roles prescribed for her by the Victorian world, but to live a more independent lifestyle based on her own desires, and to experience greater social and sexual freedom. Her disdain for convention is a symptom of the shifting cultural mores of the Jazz Age.

It is ironic that Fitzgerald’s first novel is the one for which he achieved the most acclaim, praise from which he never recovered. Perhaps its reception was the result of the novel’s sense of anticipation for the age to come. Written between 1917 and 1919 and published on March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise actually preceded the Jazz Age, an era that Fitzgerald claimed lasted from May Day 1919 to October 1929, when the stock market crashed. Yet the novel is a sensitive barometer of the shifting social climate. Brian Way remarks that “all Fitzgerald’s best writing as a historian of manners is retrospective,” and even though The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tender Is the Night (1934) both look back on previous summers and previous years, “for a short time at the beginning of his career, Fitzgerald anticipated social change . . . he achieved the kind of popularity which depends upon a writer’s being fractionally ahead of his time” (Way, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Art of Social Fiction, p. 62; see “For Further Reading”).

This Side of Paradise might have been ahead of its time partly because it examines and rejects the romantic idealism of the Victorian past and reluctantly embraces the troubling uncertainties of the future. It reveals an American culture that is economically on the ascendant but that is psychically ambivalent. World War I had finally ended in November 1918, and the “war to end all wars” had given the nation a euphoric sense of its own power. The stock market was booming, and thousands were getting rich overnight. Many felt the United States had emerged from the war relatively unscathed, having suffered fewer deaths than France, Germany, or Great Britain, and that it was now the greatest nation on earth. But at the same time Americans were troubled by a sense of unease: The trenches in France had demonstrated the brutality of war, and death was on a scale so massive it was incomprehensible. How had the culture, indeed the whole world order, failed so cataclysmically? The war had created a tectonic shift in human consciousness. Paul Fussell comments in The Great War and Modern Memory on the change that occurred between the start of the war in 1914 and its end in 1918: “Out of the world of summer 1914, marched a unique generation. It believed in Progress and Art and in no way doubted the benignity even of technology. The word machine was not yet coupled with the word gun” (Fussell, p. 24). The savage and absurd deaths of 10 million were a result of this new technology of killing, which introduced the “civilized” nations to artillery, air power, poison gas, and unprecedented civilian casualties. Ezra Pound decried the chaos of the war in his poem “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” (1920): “There died a myriad, . . . For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization,” and T. S. Eliot wrote that the stable world view of the nineteenth century could not accord with “the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history.”

Much like the rebellious youth of the 1960s during the Vietnam War, the young people of the 1920s questioned the absurdity of this “Great War,” the value system of a civilization that had created it, and the beliefs of their elders who had supported it. Many of them rejected what they regarded as a pretentious, hypocritical, and outmoded lifestyle and began to live for the moment. The “new women” of the post-war period began smoking and drinking in public, applying rouge, wearing shorter skirts, and speaking their minds. They were becoming more numerous in the post-war workforce, were gaining economic independence, and by 1920 would get the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. No longer the proper Victorian maid with her beau and her chaperone in the tearoom, the new woman was now “the flapper” and “the slicker” in the “speakeasy,” sans chaperone. Meanwhile, a sense of hedonistic revelry infected the ballrooms and nightclubs, where dances like the Charleston and the Black Bottom replaced the more sedate and conventional waltzes. Jazz music was popular and was becoming even more so by way of the Graphophone (an early phonograph) and the radio, early accompaniments to what Fitzgerald would call “the gaudiest spree in history.” Appalled by the uninhibited carousing, reactionaries mandated prohibition in early 1920 with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment but were met with a populace drinking all the more, even if it was bootlegged liquor or grain alcohol. As Matthew J. Bruccoli notes, “Drinking increased among people for whom defying the bluenose Prohibitionists was a gesture of intellectual respectability” (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, p. 131).

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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.
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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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