The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (short story)
|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button|
|Author(s)||F. Scott Fitzgerald|
|Publication date||May 27, 1922|
|Media type||Print (magazine)|
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and first published in Colliers Magazine on May 27, 1922. It was subsequently anthologized in his book Tales of the Jazz Age, which is occasionally published as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories. Development rights to the story were held for years by the late Hollywood mogul Ray Stark. Stark retained those rights until his death in 2004, when they were purchased from his estate and used for an adaptation of the story as the 2008 film of the same name, directed by David Fincher.
Benjamin is born with the physical appearance of a 70-year-old man, already able to speak. His father Roger invites neighborhood boys to play with him and orders him to play with children's toys, but Benjamin only obeys to please his father. At five, Benjamin is sent to kindergarten but is quickly withdrawn after he repeatedly falls asleep during child activities.
When Benjamin turns 12, the Button family realizes that he is aging backwards. At the age of 18, Benjamin enrolls in Yale College but having run out of hair dye on the day of registration, is sent home by officials, who think he is a 50-year-old lunatic.
In 1880, Benjamin is 20, his father gives him a control of Roger Button & Co. Wholesale Hardware. He meets Hildegarde Moncrief, a daughter of General Moncrief, and falls in love with her at the first sight. Hildegarde mistakes Benjamin for a 50-year old brother of Roger Button, and without realizing the fact of Benjamin's abnormality, the two get married six months later. Years later, Benjamin's business has been a great success, but his family life hasn't been well for him. Benjamin starts to get tired of Hildegarde because she's a nagging woman that is no longer beautiful as before. His family life is so boring that he joins the Spanish-American War in 1898. He has a great success in the military, ranked up to lieutenant colonel, and rewarded with a medal. He then quits the military because his company requires his care.
In 1910, Benjamin turns over control of his company to his son, Roscoe, and enrolls at Harvard University, having the appearance of a twenty-year-old. His first year at Harvard is a great success, and he is dominant in American football, notably obtaining revenge against Yale for his earlier unpleasant experience. However, by the time Benjamin reaches his last 2 years, he is a weak sixteen-year-old, unable to play football and barely able to cope with the academic load.
After graduation, Benjamin returns home, only to learn his wife has moved to Italy. He lives with Roscoe, who treats him very sternly, making Benjamin call him "Uncle" in front of his house guests. As the years progress, Benjamin turns from a moody teenager into a young child. Eventually Roscoe has a child that later attends kindergarten with Benjamin. After kindergarten, Benjamin slowly begins to lose memory of his earlier life. His memory fades away to the point where he cannot remember anything except his nurse. Then everything fades to darkness.
Similar stories 
A story with a similar plot was published in 1921 by the Austrian author Roda Roda in Die sieben Leidenschaften (The seven tempers; Rikola Verlag, Vienna 1922) under the title "Antonius de Padua Findling".
Film adaptation 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was released as a motion picture late in the 2008 starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and directed by David Fincher. The screenplay differs greatly from the short story. Only the title, Benjamin's name, and most aspects of the aging process are retained in the screenplay.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (2008). The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-310549-3.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Full text of the story online at The University of Virginia
- Full text of the story online at Feedbooks.com
- Tales of the Jazz Age at Project Gutenberg
- Complete recording of original unabridged version of the 1921 short story at Archive.org