The Beautiful and Damned
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307476357, 400pp.)
Publication Date: August 10, 2010
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F. Scott Fitzgerald's second novel, which brilliantly satirizes a doomed and glamorous marriage, anticipated the master stroke—The Great Gatsby—that would follow, and marks a key moment in the writer’s career. Would-be Jazz Age aristocrats Anthony and Gloria Patch embody the corrupt high society of 1920s New York: they are beautiful, shallow, pleasure-seeking, and vain. As presumptive heirs to a large fortune, they begin their married life by living well beyond their means. Their days are marked by endless drinking, dancing, luxury, and play. But when the expected inheritance is withheld, their lives become consumed with the pursuit of wealth, and their alliance begins to fall apart. Inspired in part by Fitzgerald's own tumultuous union with his wife Zelda, hauntingly rendered and keenly observed, these characters evoke a vivid portrait of a lost world: a city steeped in vice, a society without direction, and the rootless and decadent generation that inhabited it.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He attended Princeton University, where he began writing what would become his first novel, This Side of Paradise. He left Princeton to join the army during World War I, though the war ended shortly after his enlistment. This Side of Paradise, published in 1920, was a critical and financial success and was followed the same year by his first story collection, Flappers and Philosophers, followed by Tales of the Jazz Age in 1922. Fitzgerald went on to publish three more novels—The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night—and many more stories. He died in 1940, leaving his last novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, unfinished.