Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this one for the Classics Challenge and it fits the category of 20th Century Classic.
This Side of Paradise

I have read and reread The Great Gatsby, so I decided I wanted to try another of Fitzgerald's books. Since this one is billed as semi-autobiographical I wanted to see what Fitzgerald thought about growing up in the period before the roaring Twenties and then see how much of his perspective changed between this novel and The Great Gatsby. This could be a bit of a spoiler, because I am having trouble summarizing without telling most of the story.

The story follows the life of Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald's counterpart. Blaine is brought up by a frivolous, hypochondriac mother, who abandons him for a couple of years when he becomes ill and she still wants to travel. Due to her upbringing and focus on his education, Amory believes he is better than everyone else and struggles with focusing on his studies. He is fairly smart, but not motivated and this shows in his academy and college years. He lives a carefree lifestyle only influenced by Monsignor Darcy who tries to win him to the faith, but also sees in Blaine, his former youth. Blaine dabbles briefly with the army and this doesn't really seem to have an impact on him, except making him focus more on himself in a more serious manner. Then comes his attraction to Rosalind, a counterpart to Zelda, whom Fitzgerald has loved and lost at the time of the novel. Rosalind is the only creature at the time that Blaine loves more than himself and when she cruelly chooses to marry for money, he drifts for a bit, before truly learning who he is.

This has the same doomed love affair as Gatsby, but Blaine is just not as likable as Gatsby. I think Fitzgerald felt a bit out of sorts with himself, due to his sole focus of winning Zelda back. You can see that this is definitely autobiographical, while still fiction. I now want to read a bit more of Fitzgerald's background to see how closely related to his life this is. I have looked up a bit and have read some about Zelda and Fitzgerald's relationship and this does seem mirrored in Amory and Rosalind.

I did like the book, not as well as the Great Gatsby, but since that is one of my favorite classics, that is not surprising.
I loved some of the quotes including, "The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last-the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won't."
Also, "to hold a man a woman has to appeal to the worst of him."
"People make money in books and I've found that I can always do the things that people do in books. Really they are the only things I can do."
"They don't think uneducated people should be highly paid, but they won't see that if they don't pay the uneducated people their children are going to be uneducated too, and we're going round and round in a circle."
 My favorite is by far, "'I know, myself,' he cried, 'but that is all.'" Really this is an important thing and really one of the main things that matters. I give this 4 cups of cocoa and was worth the read.

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