The Beautiful and Damned (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pagan Harleman (Introduction)



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082451
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 01/15/2006
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 9,668
Product dimensions: 7.98(w) x 5.26(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Author of the widely lauded novel The Great Gatsby, as well as This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, and Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known for chronicling the excesses and tribulations of the Jazz Age. One of the leading authors of the post-World War I "Lost Generation," Fitzgerald often invokes themes of youth, beauty, and despair in his books and short stories. He was also known for his hard-partying lifestyle, as well as his marriage to the beautiful yet troubled Zelda Fitzgerald.

Date of Birth:

September 24, 1896

Date of Death:

December 21, 1940

Place of Birth:

St. Paul, Minnesota


Princeton University

Read an Excerpt

From Pagan Harleman’s Introduction to The Beautiful and Damned

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Beautiful and Damned, his second book, when he was only twenty-five. It was published in 1922, just as the Jazz Age was beginning to hit its stride. The war was over, the economy was booming, the skyscrapers were rising, the flappers were vamping, the alcohol was flowing (despite Prohibition), the music was swinging, and the party appeared to be never-ending. America was, as Fitzgerald later said, “going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it” (The Crack-Up, with Other Pieces and Stories, p. 59; see “For Further Reading”). Who better to chronicle the splendor of this new age than Fitzgerald, the man who since the rip-roaring success of his first novel had been called its most notorious voice?

Although he was the poster boy for this extravagant age, with his second book Fitzgerald chose to focus not on the splendor of the era, but instead on its spoils, the ugly aftermath of the party. The Beautiful and Damned is a cautionary tale of a young, insouciant, and irresponsible couple, Anthony and Gloria Patch, and their inevitable downward spiral. In the beginning, they are carefree and happy, buoyed by their love for each other and the hope that Anthony will one day inherit his grandfather’s vast fortune. By the end, they have deteriorated to such an extent that both appear to be bitter, empty shells of their former selves. Gloria has lost her beauty and with it her confidence, and Anthony has metamorphosed into a dissolute drunk who behaves like a child. Theirs is a bleak story without any real promise of redemption.

The Beautiful and Damned is Fitzgerald’s least-known novel, yet it provides fascinating insight into his development as a writer and his evolution as a person. Stylistically, it functions as the intermediate step between the unfocused but exuberant vitality of his debut novel, This Side of Paradise, and the superb craftsmanship of his third and in many ways greatest book, The Great Gatsby. While This Side of Paradise is a discursive story with digressions aplenty and The Great Gatsby is a seamless, nearly flawless narrative, The Beautiful and Damned is somewhere in between: a fully fashioned and controlled story that nevertheless often belabors its points and exhausts its themes. Despite its defects, the book is a compelling story that allowed Fitzgerald to explore fundamental questions and themes he developed throughout his fiction: What is the purpose and the cost of maintaining dreams? What motivates failure? What causes people to fall in and out of love? And what makes a character tragic? Tragedy, of course, was a running theme in Fitzgerald’s psyche and his life.

When Fitzgerald began to write The Beautiful and Damned, his life was anything but tragic. His first novel had just been published to wide critical and popular acclaim, selling more than 75,000 copies. He was universally hailed as literary wunderkind and had become one of the highest-paid short story writers in the business. He had finally won the hand of his sweetheart, Zelda, and together they were living the high life in New York, feted everywhere as the glamour couple. At the age of twenty-four, Fitzgerald had achieved all his dreams, and the future looked infinitely bright and promising. Yet within fourteen years he would hit rock bottom and become an alcoholic living in a cheap motel, eating twenty-five-cent meals and washing his own clothes in the sink while his wife was treated for schizophrenia in a nearby sanatorium. By then, unable to write and owing tens of thousands of dollars, overwhelmed by his dire situation, Fitzgerald would crack, suffer a nervous breakdown, and, like his character Anthony Patch, become a broken man.

While there is no simple explanation of how Fitzgerald’s downfall came about, there is no question that by writing The Beautiful and Damned he was expressing his fears of dissipation and, to a certain extent, prophetically anticipating and foreshadowing his own decline. Although he created several memorable heroes, in many ways Fitzgerald was his own greatest tragic figure. In keeping with the credo of his Romantic idols, like John Keats, he lived life at full speed, flinging himself into every experience with frightening energy to enlarge his powers as an artist. He married a woman who zealously asserted her own will and her thirst for life without fear, inhibition, or, at times, regard for him. Fitzgerald always had the capacity to recognize the risks inherent in his own behavior, to acknowledge that he was self-destructive, but he lacked the desire, strength, or ability to change. His resistance to change was perhaps a result of his artistic commitment. Fitzgerald’s first and foremost priority was to experience life, then to write about it. Everything else, even self-preservation, came second. While his lack of caution may in retrospect appear irresponsible, even indeed tragic, he did produce magnificent writing.

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The Beautiful and Damned (Enriched Classics) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 232 reviews.
Walcott More than 1 year ago
Fitzgerald, oh, Fitzgerald... this novel is why I fell in love with thee in the first place. The characters in Beautiful and Damned are aesthetically pleasant, yet inwardly grotesque; however, despite their inner sickness one can't help but love and root for them. The way Fitzgerald makes his characters out is truly fantastic. I bet he could probably make the most disgusting character likable, and this is where Fitzgerald's strength lies. He's a wonderfully gifted writer and his essence is shown in this novel beautifully. Drama fills this story, as most of Fitzgerald's stories do, and the romance within is depressing, yet entertaining. I love this book and recommend it to anyone who loves Fitzgerald.
LotusNM More than 1 year ago
Fitzgerald is a very talented writer whose works are obviously renowned for many reasons, however his descriptive writing style and ever-present symbolism honestly makes this book better for philosophical reading groups and literature courses rather than for the average person looking for a good read. Someone with a degree in English would definitely be able to appreciate this book. Overall, great symbolism and noteworthy writing style, however there's a definite lack of excitement in the story. Perhaps I shall try reading this again in a few months as some books are better and more meaningful after a second read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of The Great Gatsby and, dare I say, I liked The Beautiful and Damned even more! In this book, Fitzgerald has the uncanny ability to make us hate these characters while simultaneously, somehow, caring about what happens to them. You almost feel sorry for Anthony and Gloria and their lack of humility, their vanity, their sinking from the height of youth and social strata to the depths of decadence and despair. Once begun, you won't be able to stop reading and you'll find these characters will haunt you long after the final page has been turned...
Timhrk More than 1 year ago
This is Fitzgerald's best book. Best characters, best story, best writing. It is underrated, maligned and misunderstood. Romance has a dark side, and this it. Love is destructive. The question Fitzgerald ponders in this great work is whether love is destructive in and of itself, or is the love destructive because of the times (roaring 20s and the Great Depression). Hard to say. He argues both sides, that's for sure. More so than any other work of literature, The Beautiful and Damned comes closest to my own personal experience of Romance, then and now. I love Gatsby-which has jewel-like construction and has earned its place as masterpiece, but I want to provoke. B&D may be second, but second place tries harder! I love Fitzgerald's writing, but this novel has been either overlooked or maligned that I feel I must state a stronger opinion in favor of it. Then it has this great line-after Gloria and Anthony get a new car-about how the same discussions were, who should drive, and how fast should Gloria go. What man hasn't been in that situation? Also, the idea that each generation has its own definition of beauty is one that is inescapable, and not without consequence. Please Visit:
billtolstoy More than 1 year ago
Fitgerald can rip your guts out. The protagonists are not hateful,;their values though are.They are beautiful and they will decay themseves in indolence,irrelevance,privilege and selfishness, booze simply comes along for the ride,greasing the skids into decline and damnation of the spirit and the body and in Anthony's case,a seriously beautiful mind. I kept wanting to open a window,blow in clean fresh live air and light,life and some kind ofcleansing anger.This book is written y a amaster,it hurts,it is hard,and in it's way,it is beautiful,even if it hurts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is remarkable in detail and characterization. I love the drama in this book and, at times, Fitzgerald almost makes it poetic. He not only writes a wonderful, fascinating and tragic story, but also incorporates interesting views of life and history. It's a magnificent illustration of the early 1920's era. Anthony and Gloria Patch are intriguing characters whose selfish ambitions and faults weaves intense emotions throughout the book. Even at times when their lives are despicable or depressing, you love them anyway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
F Scott Fitzgerald does a masterful job at portraying the decadence and jaded attitudes of the era. Through Gloria and Anthony Patch, he highlights the discontent and fallow energies of the monied at the turn of the century. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Fitzgerald's style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The_Beastlord_Slavedragon More than 1 year ago
The reviewer, "Lost", made a point which opinionates the academic opinion as well. Critically, this book is one of Fitzgerald's shortcomings. Academically, Gloria is underdeveloped as a charachter, but I disagree with that opinion. There are` some very serious philosophical musings in the book's beginning but he does slogh off a bit towards the end. The introduction of Gloria in paragraph format is so eloquent and promising that one might expound an entire novel from that theme where Fitzgerald left off. It may be that the author's own self effacement got in the way of objectively writing the book because he spent the entire book belittleing himslef and his way of life. A noble effort indeed. The title says it all. This is a lament. Beauty, Wealth, and Pedegriee being the source of Damnation in and of themslves alone... the stuff of ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written book, as can be expected from Fitzgerald. The story was not as onsuming or interedtig as hoped, but thought-provoking nonetheless.
ClassicReaderBW More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The mismatched debauched, drunken blueblood are rewarded, for doing nothing and refusinng to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps????!
stbomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written but story left me a little cold.
jonesli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a bit rambling at times, but overall an excellent portrayal of what happens to us when we are greedy, self indulgent and expect others to solve our problems.Set in the wonderful Jazz Age in New York, The Beautiful and Damned is the story of Anthony Patch, a Havard educated aspiring writer, and loafer and his wife Gloria,a petulant party girl's downward spiral after their brief courtship and marriage. Basically Anthony and Gloria are waiting patiently for his grandfather Adam Patch to die, so that they will inherit his multimillion dollar estate. Neither one feels as though they should work and instead live on a small trust income and sell bonds to pay their bills and afford liquor, cigarettes, and domestic help.What happens next is an important lesson about reality, becoming a responsible adult and what brings true happiness. A great read although it is perhaps a little lenghty.
lindsay7564 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book interested me, but at the same time bored me. The characters were not at all likeable in anyway. The book was slow and lacked an intriging plot line. However, I would recommend it. I think this book is almost dead on alot of upper class lives back then and now. I was personally able to relate the characters to people in my own life.
kohrmanmj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tedious, although enjoyable at times.
jkrejci on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent tale of dissipation and the perils of moral groundlessness, however not, in my opinion, as brilliant as Tender is the Night or the Great Gatsby. At times a tad rambling, including Fitzgerald's annoying habit of lapsing into thinly disguised social commentary or litcrit. However, he remains in my opinion one of the most gifted writers ever to put pen to paper. His lyricism is breathtaking, and at his best no one can compare with him.
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tedious in the extreme with a profoundly unsatisfying resolution. The characters are boring, the social criticism is not particularly sharp or interesting, and absolutely nothing changes from one end of the novel to the other. In Edith Wharton's hands, this story would have been a funny, biting social commentary; in Fitzgerald's, it's not even a half-hearted indictment of the upper classes but rather a limping, uneven chronicle of the boy who never grew up. It's not clear to me whether the story wants to be perceived as tragic, but it fails through the sheer hatefulness of the protagonists. Not one of Fitzgerald's better efforts, to say the least.
Schmerguls on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I was reading this book I said of it, on Feb 27,1952: "Erratic, at times thestory has real morbid power--very uneven." I finished the book on Mar 1, 1952, but made no further note in regard to it.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a marvel of styles: it can sometimes be very classically descriptive, even poetic in its romantic passages, or it can be quick witted dialogue and read like a play. The pace of the novel, as well, brilliantly changes as events precipitate: the first books set the stage: a fun-loving, party-going couple with no cares; the reader can predict tragedy, an inexorable end, until the war arrives and the whole dynamic changes. All of a sudden, the pace quickens, the characters, instead of seizing a chance for change, sink further into their habits until Anthony's alcoholism becomes pitiable and Gloria's vanity ridiculous. I did wonder how it would all end, and the ending is predictably dramatic - it was the irony that threw me off.Fitzgerald's characters are not likable, nor are they meant to be, but they are intensely human and real, both puppets and makers of their lives. Although there are some lengthy passages, ultimately, the reader will become attached to these touching figures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gloria_Patch More than 1 year ago
An amazing work about...well if I told you, that's all you'd focus on throughout the novel. The author speaks of the motif of beauty and love and the corruption of both, and therefore indirectly the world. A classic and a must read. Love this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fitzgerald was a great writer, but this, one of his most popular works during his lifetime, has not aged well. Readable, and Fitzgerald's talent is obvious, but it can get a little tedious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago