(Sidharth Vardhan’s review of
F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘s ‘Beautiful and Damned’
Book first published in March 1922
Review first published on December 25, 2019
(5 / 5) )
Anthony and Gloria Patch are the bright lights of the 1920s New York smart set and lead a life of luxury, idleness, and indulgence. But Jazz Age glamour comes at a price and, with Anthony’s inheritance uncertain, the couple’s decadent lifestyle begins to fall apart. Anthony is unable to hold down a job, and the couple descends into alcoholism and depression as their finances and marriage collapse. Fitzgerald’s captivating tale of squandered talent is the classic account of the so-called Lost Generation.
Perhaps read better as a diary of an artist who is also a writer rather than a novel – in this, it is similar to Joyce’s ‘The portrait of an artist a young man’. has something existential despite its characters, as Fitzgerald’s characters often do, possessing very shallow values. There is also a lot of philosophical talk going in here which is another thing I didn’t expect from Fitzgerald.
I have read only two of Fitzgerald’s works but I believe Anthony might be the only character he created that has an intellectual bent of mind. His stock characters are materialist-hedonists who just want to get drunk and have sex and their big problems are they may not be filthy rich to be able to do so (though they mostly are), or they might have to work for it or they might be married to wrong people. To sum up, they want to forever retain the privilege of being adolescent and beautiful. Even Anthony shares some of these values including arrogant lookism. Such sensual people rarely make great lovers of literature.
The prose was far superior IMO compared to The Great Gatsby – but in terms of metaphors, symbols, etc, it doesn’t really come together and that was the only reason I could have considered giving it like 4 stars instead of 5.
Copyright – Sidharth Vardhan