This Side of Paradise
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780307474513, 264pp.)
Publication Date: September 8, 2009
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F. Scott Fitzgerald's cherished debut novel announced the arrival of a brilliant young writer and anticipated his masterpiece, "The Great Gatsby." Published in 1920, when the author was just twenty-three, "This Side of Paradise" recounts the education of young Amory Blaine--egoistic, versatile, callow, imaginative. As Amory makes his way among debutantes and Princeton undergraduates, we enter an environment heady with the promise of everything that was new in the vigorous, restless America after World War I. We experience Amory's sailing hopes, crushing defeats, deep loves and stubborn losses. His growth from self-absorption to sexual awareness and personhood unfolds with continuous improvisatory energy and delight. Fitzgerald's remarkable formal inventiveness couches Amory's narrative among songs, poems, dramatic dialogue, questions and answers. The novel's freshness and verve--praised upon publication, now renowned by history--only heighten the sense that the world being described is our own, modern world.