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This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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This Side of Paradise

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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5,87943711 (3.62)118
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    The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (CGlanovsky)
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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I kept thinking: "this is pretty good for a 22 year old." I also kept thinking: "this book would never have been published today." I'm not asserting that as a truth about the book. I'm just saying I kept thinking it.

On almost every page I felt reminded that this novel was written by a young writer, someone who hadn't figured out quite how to pace a novel, or how to focus his themes, or how to deal with dramatic scenes without either short-changing them or turning them into bathos. World War I as narrative summary called "Interlude?" I don't care if Fitzgerald hadn't actually been to war--neither had Stephen Crane. Also the different structural choices and narrative voices from one section to the next don't feel like an author with mastery over the material, or an author making conscious choices. They feel like the author doesn't know what he is doing yet.

Almost because the book was such a startling mess to me, I loved the detail in the novel about Amory's reading habits. Throughout the book Fitzgerald assumes that a list of authors' names will telegraph to his readers Amory's current state of mind and maturity. Here is an example:

"He read enormously every night—Shaw, Chesterton, Barrie, Pinero, Yeats, Synge, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Keats, Sudermann, Robert Hugh Benson, the Savoy Operas—just a heterogeneous mixture, for he suddenly discovered that he had read nothing for years."

Of course these passing mentions of authors, some referred to just by last name because they were so well-known back then, can't have the same effect now as they did when Fitzgerald wrote the novel. Many of these authors are out of print or rarely read. But the references to books and authors in This Side of Paradise served to remind me of the mystery of literary endurance, and this became the question that preoccupied me, while reading it: Why do some books stay popular for a few months or years, and others are read for generations? This Side Of Paradise itself is now part of that mystery. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
This book pretty much defines my college experience.

Except for the attending Princeton part.
And the not-being-a-hot-dude part.
And I didn't fight in WWI either.

okay, so maybe Amory Blaine and I are nothing alike, but we share the same sense of malaise and we're both drifting purposelessly through life.

behold: the power of literature! ( )
  megantron | Jan 2, 2015 |
This took an intermitable time to read because I found it almost totally imcomprehensible. The tone was constantly shifting from impressionistic sections to narrative but I never felt like I could hold onto anything and connect with it. I kept thinking that the story of a young man in and around WWI was much better told in 'One of Ours'. Of course, that is a completely different story but perhaps more to my taste. I have another F. Scott Fitzgerald in the reading pile and I hope I enjoy that one a bit more.
  amyem58 | Aug 5, 2014 |
Finally, a Fitzgerald book that is interesting and does not follow the mold. Normally, I think F. Scott Fitzgerald is a most overrated writers. The more I have read of his works, the less I like him. Sure, he knows how to turn a phrase but he lacks what is essential to all truly good writers - how to make characters who appeal to the common man. This seems to me to be his major problem and will ultimately lead to his downfall from the pedestal upon which his friends in the New York publishing world had placed him. Who cares about the spoiled wealthy and their angst over empty lives? Every one of his books are similar in this respect. However, this particular one was his first and is the freshest. It shows the promise he had failed to fulfill. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
This was my first Fitzgerald. The author came up in conversation and, having realized I had never read anything by him, the next time I was at the library I went to the fiction section and this was the only Fitzgerald currently on the shelf (my branch is one of the smallest in the county; much of what I read I have transferred in from the other locations).

I had heard of This Side of Paradise, but I have no idea whether it's a good introduction to the author. As I read, I felt like I needed someone smarter than me to tell me what was important about the book.

I noticed the changes in writing style: at times the story was told in third person, at times it was a play, at times a poem, and there was a brief couple of pages that were first person.

I've read other fiction that takes place when this book does (the nineteen-teens), but most of it was historical fiction, while Paradisewas actually realistic fiction when it was published: a coming of age story about a young man growing up as the world around him is experiencing growing pains.

I liked it, and I felt the writing was good, but I was alternately bored and interested. I couldn't figure out why the main character's two years at war were almost completely ignored (but I wasn't disappointed by the fact, that's for sure).

I think my next Fitzgerald will be The Great Gatsby, for no other reason that it's the most famous. ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
"it bears the impress, it seems to me, of genius. It is the only adequate study that we have had of the contemporary American in adolescence and young manhood."
added by GYKM | editChicago Tribune, Burton Rascoe
 
"The glorious spirit of abounding youth glows throughout this fascinating tale. . . The whole story is disconnected, more or less, but loses none of its charm on that account. It could have been written only by an artist who knows how to balance his values, plus a delightful literary style."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times (May 9, 1920)
 
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Epigraph
. . . Well this side of Paradise! . . .
There's little comfort in the wise.
---Rupert Brooks

Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes.
---Oscar Wilde
Dedication
TO SIGOURNEY FAY
First words
Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684843781, Paperback)

Fitzgerald's first novel, reprinted in the handsome Everyman's Library series of literary classic, uses numerous formal experiments to tell the story of Amory Blaine, as he grows up during the crazy years following the First World War. It also contains a new introduction by Craig Raine that describes critical and popular reception of the book when it came out in 1920.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:14 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This classic novel, first published in 1920, tells the story of Amory Blaine's moral education and sexual awakening, brilliantly capturing the rhythms of postwar America and the spirit of a generation dedicated to the pursuit of excitement, sophistication, and success.… (more)

» see all 21 descriptions

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Audible.com

12 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185570, 014119409X

The Library of America

An edition of this book was published by The Library of America.

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Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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