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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Beautiful and Damned (Penguin Hardback Classics)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
"It is seven thirty on an August evening. The windows in the living room of the gray house are wide open patiently exchanging the tainted inner atmosphere of liquor and smoke for the fresh drowsiness of the late hot dusk. There are dying flower scents upon the air, so thin, so fragile, as to hint already of a summer laid away in time."

This is the story of a young couple Anthony and Gloria Patch living out their days to the hilt in New York City as they await the death of Anthony's grandfather, Adam Patch from whom they expect to inherit his massive fortune.

Gloria is a spoilt child from Kansas City turned into a sophisticated and most beautiful woman. Gloria does not intend to lift a finger to do any domestic work in the home, no matter how slight; while Anthony who considers himself an aesthete, finds it quite hard to get his act together and instead of buckling down to some work, prefers instead to hang with his wife and their friends on nightly binges. They drink and eat in the classiest restaurants and hotels, rent the most expensive apartments, travel out to the West in the spring time driving plush cars, wearing top-of-the-line clothing and just generally living it up high on the hog, as they wait.

Meet Maury Noble who is Anthony best friend who spends his time between New York and Philadelphia; Richard Caramel who has just completed writing a book and looking for new ideas for a second one. Joseph Bloeckman from Munich who started out small in America and is now a big shot in Show Biz. Also the quiet Jewess Rachael Barnes and Muriel Kane who is young, flirtatious and sometimes a bit too talkative and Tana the Japanese housekeeper of the Patches.

We are shown the Patches at their very best as the novel starts, with the world at their feet and loaded with cash with which they make very expensive choices. But, as we get further in, we see things begin to change gradually and we realize that those very choices will be their very downfall. It was quite a good read but it could be very heartbreaking at times as we put ourselves into the shoes of the main characters. All lovers of F. Scott Fitzgerald should read this book if you haven't done so already, and those of you who like reading about the ultra rich in the Roaring Twenties this one is for you. It is the kind of book that you feel you will want to read again. It is that good and I shall miss it.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 29/06/09)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 October 2009
As the New York Herald Tribune noted in its obituary, Fitzgerald was both "prophet and interpreter" of an era, and readers will find The Beautiful and Damned mapping this familiar territory. Set during early 20th century America, moving into the "Jazz" Age as it came to be known, and peopled with characters who define themselves through their money and connections, through dinner parties and drinking binges, through beauty and youth; this novel is the epitome of Fitzgerald's tragic, lost generation.

The plot spends roughly a decade following the life of 20 year old Harvard graduate Anthony Patch, and his relationship with the young socialite Gloria Gilbert. They are an uproarious couple who luxuriate in time and money as though both are infinite: they are the talk of the town; Anthony for being the heir to the fortune of the great reformer "Cross" Patch, and Gloria for simply being beautiful. It's not long though before cracks begin to appear in their facade, and when a legal case Dickens would be proud of comes between Anthony and his fortune, their world comes under even greater pressure.

What Fitzgerald does beautifully is map the building up and breaking down of individuals by society and each other: with money and alcohol there to exacerbate. He also draws scenes exquisitely, describing such details as to make the reader suffer along with his characters - their embarrassments and debasements. Fitzgerald's prose is his crowning glory, dissecting characters and situations with an unrelenting and surgically precise lyrical splendour.

What's odd about this novel is the sections which Fitzgerald decides to write as though they were a drama to be performed on stage, complete with directions. Ironically, the dialogue here is really flat, and seems to distance the reader, rather than pull us closer.

Fitzgerald remains one of my favourite writers, and this novel doesn't diminish him, though The Great Gatsby (Penguin Modern Classics) reigns sublimely in terms of story and prose, and Tender is the Night: A Romance (Penguin Modern Classics) is structurally a more accomplished work (both 5-star reads). The Beautiful and Damned is an intelligent and evocative deconstruction of a relationship, filled with uncomfortable insights into a generation and how it defined itself.

[In the Penguin Modern Classics Edition Geoff Dyer's too-brief introduction looks at the novel from an autobiographical perspective, and compares it with Tender is the Night.]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2011
The novel "this side of paradise" is a very good one and I think is very important for someone studying Fitzgerald. I would certainly buy it and read it. It speaks about a young man who is rich. I read that Fitzgerald's first book is somehow immature and overly sophisticated in its tone but I don't think so necessarily. I think it is very suited with the atmosphere it depicts. It is very artistically written and very interesting.

The novel is full of incidents that are mixed up, sometimes imitating the way life is, just as jumbled. The plot is not clear but this fact only contributes to F. Scott Fitzgerald's intention to makes us feel the chaos and rush that were specific to wealthy Americans. The book has unity and force. The main character Amory Blaine is a symbol of selfishness and is quite despicable for the reader.

I am not a history or sociology expert but I am impressed by the details of that time that the author presents. I would hazard to say it could constitute a social and historical document of that period in America's history, not only this novel but F. Scott Fitzgerald's entire work. I always planned to buy all his books and make a study of America in those troubled crazy times, as seen by a very attentive insider.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2007
F.Scott Fitzgerald is a writer of remarkable talent. His prose sparkles with a beauty that juxtaposes with his often tragic subject matter. 'The Beautiful and Damned' explores some of the issues that would plague his own career as a writer who never really managed to top the acclaim bestowed upon 'The Great Gatsby', a devastatingly beautiful and seminal piece of 20th century literature. 'The Beautiful and Damned' boasts an array of would-be writers, actresses and dancers whom epitomise an era of of vanity, excess and alcohol. But underneath the shiny veneer lurks the inner turmoil of Anthony's talent that is never successfully fulfilled and capricious Gloria's despair that her good looks cannot be maintained. Anthony's descent into alcohol and depression is truely heartbreaking, especially as it ironically peaks as both the main protagonists' bad luck is about to change. This is perhaps telling of the era that Fitzgerald evoked in lucid vitality with the hustle and bustle of fashion, jazz, and alcoholic delights, but at the same time viewed with cynicism. As Gloria bemoans that she cannot afford a much in vogue grey squirrel fur coat, and her husband self medicates with copious amounts of alcohol, Fitzgerald's prose exposes the subtle horrors of innocence lost to an era of excess.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2012
To a certain measure, I agree with those who have given this 5 stars: Fitzgerald's writing is beautiful, and he paints a glorious picture of a privileged lifestyle in the early 20th century. Captivated from the first page, I too rushed into a world of splendour and seduction, reminded not a little of some of my own friends who adorn themselves with fur and finery, and luxuriate daily in a Château-du-Godknows as if it were water. The Beautiful and Damned lends us an undeniably brilliant portrayal of the effortlessly affluent.

Yet from his very keen perception of life, of people and relationships, the author also allows to slip in, first by tiny mouse steps and later the great thumping of elephants' feet, a sense of tired and miserable inevitability. Anybody who has seen a relationship burn like a Roman candle has already read this book. Even ignoring the heavy tones of foreshadowing, the final two thirds of are boringly predictable. When you see a couple of hundred pages of ebbing ruin stretching out before you like a vast desert, the only question is, 'Am I really interested in how this comes to pass?'

So what of the critique of the young and wealthy? While Fitzgerald is scathingly critical of virtually every character in the novel, he does not attack affluence so much as the means by which it is obtained. There can be no tragedy in the loss of Anthony, weak and scorned, awaiting unearned millions, nor of Gloria, beautiful and empty, who lacks empathy and humanity. If we are to look for tragedy in the 'human condition', we also come up short, for this is a world not of the human, but of the intellectual trapped in a love affair with money.

In this sense, there is plenty of meat on the bones, but the story itself left me bored and tired. Others might enjoy it, but I would not read it a second time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2011
This novel, "The Beautiful and the Damned" is, I believe, the second novel written by Fitzgerald. I loved it and I would advise anyone to read it and to buy the book. The main character, Anthony Patch is a young man coming from the good world in America. Fitzgerald is kind of obsessed with the drama of the rich but he is also fascinated by their world, we can easily see that from other novels he wrote, such as The Great Gatsby, "Tender is the night" and many others novels and short stories. Anthony Patch wants to become as rich as possible as soon as possible. He marries a girl just like him, rich and disoriented because he doesn't know what life is all about.

These two characters just drift in a world of laziness and hollowness. They spend their time going to parties and drinking but they do not succeed in having and experiencing any other feeling than fear. They cannot be happy and they go on partying and drinking just to forget about that thought and the fear that comes along with it. Of course, it is predictable that Fitzgerald goes on to show how the character decays somehow while still being alive and how his life and the life of his wife slowly wastes away and how they never make anything out of it, they lack the most basic courage and wisdom to seek and find a meaning for their existence.

This particular edition is also very neatly made and goes well with the content of the book. I recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2010
This gritty tale is in some ways better than the Great Gatsby. It might not knock you sideways in quite the same way, but it will stay with you and haunt you. It has come under heavy criticism, as not adding anything to This Side of Paradise, or as Fitzgerald not having control over his material; and there are slips of the tongue and inconsistencies, but the power of the book is the level of insight it has into the human condition.

The book concerns itself with the young and magnetic Anthony and Gloria Patch, whose lives are an increasingly depressing series of parties and verbal bouts that ultimately result in Anthony's being written out of his prohibitionist Grandfather's will. The book describes the inevitable result of the combination of a diminishing income and an increasingly expensive lifestyle, till their last 75 dollars is squandered on a crate of whisky.

Fitzgerald's prose is breathtaking at times. He lets his pen run free when he discusses human anxiety, so full of pathos and irony; his descriptions of descending into drunkenness are particularly powerful, and even the weather: `It was bitter and raw. All the evil hate in the mad heart of February was wrought into the forlorn and icy wind that cut its way cruelly across Central Park.'

The book is also important in that it anticipates other American literature; not least that of Richard Yates. Thoroughly rcommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2011
This is book-binding at it's best: lovely and appropriate design, paper and typography. I will never buy an electronic devise that pretends to be a "book" as long as Penguin and other publishers continue to create beautiful things like this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 1997
We're coming into an age referred to by many as the "Cocktail Nation," and our youth is experimenting with swing dancing, swing music, making bathtub absinthe, and trying to recreate the air of my most favorite decade of all times: the roaring '20s.
"The Beautiful and Damned," is by far the best work by the man who almost single-handedly created the image of the flapper. F. Scott Fitzgerald was as much the voice of his generation as we claim modern alternative musicians are the voice of ours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2013
F.Scott Fitzgerald's reputation rests chiefly on his magnum opus - the irrepressible The Great Gatsby, however sometime before Gatsby came this novel - the tale of a pair of socialites who marry with great hope and passion, but whose fortunes are soon undermined by alcohol, money, and regret. Gloria and Anthony's presumptuous attitude and decadent leanings are portrayed as indicative of 1920s US culture, and the novel is a very one-sided affair that leaves little room for hope or optimism. Despite this it's an absorbing read, and as the fortunes of the pair start to shift, the underlying tensions are laid bare, and the once united lovers start to become prised apart by their own greed and ambition.
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