The Beautiful and Damned

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The Beautiful and Damned
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The first edition cover with the characters of Anthony and Gloria drawn to resemble F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
1922
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

The Beautiful and Damned, first published by Scribner's in 1922, is F. Scott Fitzgerald's second novel. It portrays the Eastern elite during the Jazz Age, exploring New York café society. As in Fitzgerald's other novels, the characters are complex, especially with respect to marriage and intimacy. The book is believed to be largely based on Fitzgerald's relationship with Zelda Fitzgerald.

Plot summary[edit]

The Beautiful and Damned tells the story of Anthony Patch, a 1910s socialite and presumptive heir to a tycoon's fortune, his relationship with his wife, Gloria, his service in the army, and his alcoholism.[1][2]

Toward the end of the novel, Fitzgerald references himself:

You know these new novels make me tired. My God! Everywhere I go some silly girl asks me if I've read "This Side of Paradise." Are our girls really like that? If it's true to life, which I don't believe, the next generation is going to the dogs. I'm sick of all this shoddy realism.

Themes[edit]

The Beautiful and Damned is at once a morality tale, a meditation on love, money and decadence, and a social document.[2] It concerns characters' disproportionate appreciation of their past, which consumes them in the present.

According to Fitzgerald critic James West, the novel is concerned with the question of vocation—what does one do with oneself when one has nothing to do? Fitzgerald presents Gloria as a woman whose vocation is nothing more than to catch a husband. After her marriage to Anthony, Gloria's sole vocation is to slide into indolence and alcoholism; her husband's sole vocation is to wait for his inheritance.[3]

Publication history[edit]

Fitzgerald wrote The Beautiful and Damned quickly, following editorial suggestions from his friend Edmund Wilson and his editor Max Perkins. The book was serialized in Metropolitan Magazine in 1921 and in March 1922 the book was published. Based on the credible sales of his first book, This Side of Paradise, Scribner's prepared an initial print run of 20,000 copies and mounted an advertising campaign. It sold well enough to warrant additional print runs reaching 50,000 copies. Fitzgerald dedicated the book to the Irish writer Shane Leslie.[4] Originally called The Flight of the Rocket, The Beautiful and Damned is divided into three separate books: "The Pleasant Absurdity of Things", "The Romantic Bitterness of Things", and "The Ironic Tragedy of Things".[2]

Reception[edit]

Louise Field, writing in The New York Times, found the novel showed Fitzgerald to be talented but too pessimistic. She hoped he "will some day acquire a less one-sided understanding".[5]

Adaptations[edit]

A 1922 film adaptation, directed by William A. Seiter, starred Kenneth Harlan as Anthony Patch and Marie Prevost as Gloria.[6]

There is a German translation.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Beautiful and Damned". Amazon.com. 
  2. ^ a b c Perosa, Sergio (1965). "The Beautiful and Damned". The Art of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. LCCN 65-11463 Check |lccn= value (help). 
  3. ^ West, 51
  4. ^ West, 48–49
  5. ^ Maunsell Field, Louise (March 5, 1922). "Latest Works of Fiction". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Seiter, William. "The Beautiful and Damned (1922)". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Winters, Marion (2004). "German Translations of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned. A Corpus-based Study of Modal Particles as Features of Translators' Style". In Kemble, Ian. Using Corpora and Databases in Translation: Proceedings of the Conference Held on 14th November 2003 in Portsmouth. London: University of Portsmouth. pp. 71–89. ISBN 1861373651. 

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