The Beautiful and Damned
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9780684852768, 368pp.)
Publication Date: February 1, 1999
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The work that signaled Fitzgerald's maturity as a storyteller and novelist, The Beautiful and Damned is a devastating portrait of the excesses of the Jazz Age. Anthony Comstock Patch is a Harvard-educated gallant who leisurely aspires to author a book as he awaits an enormous inheritance upon his grandfather's death. Not quite gorgeous, but considered handsome here and there, he thinks himself an exceptional young man -- sophisticated, well-adjusted, and destined to achieve some subtle accomplishment deemed worthy by the elect. Gloria is a sparkling young socialite and a rare beauty. Armed with an incisive wit, she's at once level and reckless.
Patch's impassioned marriage to Gloria is fueled by alcohol and consumed by greed. The dazzling couple race through a series of alcohol-induced fiascoes -- first in hilarity, and later in despair. The Beautiful and Damned is a piercing and tragic depiction of New York nightlife, reckless ambition, squandered talent, and the faux aristocracy of the nouveaux riches. Published in 1922 on the heels of Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, it gives evidence to the sharp social insight and breathtaking lyricism of one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896, attended Princeton University, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and the couple divided their time among New York, Paris, and the Riviera, becoming a part of the American expatriate circle that included Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos. Fitzgerald was a major new literary voice, and his masterpieces include The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of forty-four, while working on The Love of the Last Tycoon. For his sharp social insight and breathtaking lyricism, Fitzgerald is known as one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.