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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: And Six Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

F Scott Fitzgerald
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Nov 2008 Penguin Modern Classics

Revealing the breadth of F. Scott Fitzgerald's gift for the short story form, this Penguin Classics edition of The Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories spans multiple genres and styles to dazzling effect.

Full grown with a long, smoke-coloured beard, requiring the services of a cane and fonder of cigars than warm milk, Benjamin Button is a very curious baby indeed. And, as Benjamin becomes increasingly youthful with the passing years, his family wonders why he persists in the embarrassing folly of living in reverse. In this imaginative fable of ageing and the other stories collected here - including 'The Cut-Glass Bowl' in which an ill-meant gift haunts a family's misfortunes, 'The Four Fists' where a man's life shaped by a series of punches to his face, and the revelry, mobs and anguish of 'May Day' - F. Scott Fitzgerald displays his unmatched gift as a writer of short stories.

'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', originally published in 1922, was made into a major motion picture directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) has acquired a mythical status in American literary history, and his masterwork The Great Gatsby is considered by many to be the 'great American novel'. In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre, dubbed 'the first American Flapper', and their traumatic marriage and Zelda's gradual descent into insanity became the leading influence on his writing. As well as many short stories, Fitzgerald wrote five novels This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night and, incomplete at the time of his death, The Last Tycoon. After his death The New York Times said of him that 'in fact and in the literary sense he created a "generation" '.

If you enjoyed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, you might like Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A master of the American short story'

The Philadelphia Enquirer

'His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings'

Ernest Hemingway


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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: And Six Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Beautiful and Damned (Collins Classics) + Tender is the Night (Collins Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141190191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141190198
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 12.8 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St Paul, Minnesota, and went to Princeton University which he left in 1917 to join the army. Fitzgerald was said to have epitomised the Jazz Age, an age inhabited by a generation he defined as 'grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken'.

In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre. Their destructive relationship and her subsequent mental breakdowns became a major influence on his writing. Among his publications were five novels, This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender is the Night and The Love of the Last Tycoon (his last and unfinished work): six volumes of short stories and The Crack-Up, a selection of autobiographical pieces.

Fitzgerald died suddenly in 1940. After his death The New York Times said of him that 'He was better than he knew, for in fact and in the literary sense he invented a "generation" ... he might have interpreted them and even guided them, as in their middle years they saw a different and nobler freedom threatened with destruction.'


Product Description

Review

'His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings' - Ernest Hemingway

About the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St Paul, Minnesota. In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre. Their destructive relationship and her subsequent mental breakdowns became a major influence on his writing. Among his publications were five novels, This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender is the Night and The Love of the Last Tycoon (his last and unfinished work), plus six volumes of short stories. Fitzgerald died suddenly in 1940.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a master of the short-story 21 Jan 2009
By A Common Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I'd never read Scott Fitzgerald's short stories before and this seemed as good an introduction as any. I was not disappointed: the stories are witty and complex with a huge amount of atmosphere from early 20th century America.

The title story, Benjamin Button, is an imaginative fable, in which the "baby" is born a full grown man and during the course of the next 70 years grows younger and younger until he ends his life as a baby. I am not quite sure what the purpose of the story is other than as a curiosity, but it is well done and Scott Fitzgerald dreams up some amusing scenarios. Button's father goes to see the new child in the maternity hospital and sees, ". . . an old man apparently about 70 years of age. His sparse hair was almost white, and from his chin dripped a long smoke-coloured beard, which waved absurdly back and forth, fanned by the breeze coming in at the window".

Mr Button Senior buys his new son a rattle and insists that he plays with it, whereupon, ". . . the old man took it with a weary expression and could be heard jingling it obediently at intervals throughout the day".

Lead soldiers, toy trains and soft toys failed to arouse Benjamin's interest, although he seemed to have a preference for the Encyclopaedia Britannica and also for his father's dark Havana cigars.

When Benjamin reaches the age of 18, his physique has improved, although appearing like a man of fifty, with dark grey hair and a healthy baritone voice. He enrols at college. A few years later he joins his father's firm and the two men appear to be roughly the same age. They go to a dance, and he is taken for his father's brother, and dances with a young woman Hildegarde who likes the company of older men.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary storyteller 13 Feb 2009
By T. Bently VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I had always thought that I had read nearly all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories. It wasn't until the recent film came out that I realised I was wrong. In this collection of seven pieces, The Cut-glass Bowl and May Day are relatively well known but Benjamin Button, O Russet Witch! and The Four Fists were entirely new to me.

There is a heavy vein of irony running throughout Fitzgerald's work. In BB, his family and friends treat his rapidly-shrinking age as if he were persisting in performing a slightly bizarre party-trick of which they were starting to tire.

I particularly like Fitzgerald's perfect ear for words. He describes Button's ageing wife as having, "a faint skirmish of grey hairs in her head", which since he had been talking about the Spanish-American War, is a touch of genius. And in Head and Shoulders (another new story for me) the hero's girlfriend "drapes the last skeins of a Welsh rabbit on her fork" while waiting for him to speak. The author can make even such minor moments in his narratives shine.

Perhaps my favourite story here is Four Fists, in which a businessman philosophically recalls his life in terms of four epiphanies when he was hit on the nose, almost as if were literally having some sense knocked into him.

There is wry comedy too:

"It's the only way," she gasped in a sort of triumphant malignity. "The only thing that keeps old folks like me happy is the sense that they can make other people step around. To be old and rich and have poor descendants is almost as much fun as to be young and beautiful and have ugly sisters"

("O Russet Witch", who proves in the end to be all too human.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of stories 9 July 2009
By MWA
Format:Paperback
This is the first time I have read Scott Fitzgerald's work and I think the guy's brilliant. Every short story included is worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald I was keen to try his short stories. This is a great collection, with the title story being the best in my opinion. Benjamin Button is born at the age of seventy and then proceeds to get younger and younger. The story is cleverly told, with his father, and later son's, dismay at the problems this throws up, poignant as well as humorous. I most enjoyed the fathers insistence his 'baby' should play with a rattle, when Benjamin would sneak off and try to enjoy a cigar in peace!

Highlights from the other stories offered is one about the perceived missed chances of a young man working in a bookshop and that of a writer, dealing with love and networking in Hollywood. As always, Fitzgerald has a keen eye for detail and the world he lived in. The young man, down on his luck, trying to hide his frayed cuffs from a friend who is horrified he is forced to deal with a request for money when he would rather not think about it, the humiliation of a wife whose husband is drunk at a dinner party, the way married love changes are all wrapped up neatly in a line, but so we all understand exactly how the character feels. Highly enjoyabl collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good! 21 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another great book, my daughter really enjoyed the film so wanted to read the book.... this is the wrong way round for her!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The other side 8 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Short stories are revealing about an author's ability. Great authors often do not write this genre well, Hemingway being a case in point. He has half a dozen good short stories but the rest fall flat. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, does have a feel for this genre. Perhaps the reason is that many of them are closer to the novella in length, thus giving him enough time to develop a good story and more complete characters. Truth is, few authors, such as O'Henry and Poe, can so deftly sketch a tale so briefly (three to five pages at most). But many like Fitzgerald give us great pleasure in the longer style of the short story. This volume is a worthwhile addition to one's library.
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