Published in 1922, it chronicles the relationship of Anthony Patch, Harvard-educated aspiring aesthete, and his beautiful wife, Gloria, as they wait to inherit his grandfather's fortune. A devastating satire of the nouveaux rich and New York's nightlife, of reckless ambition and squandered talent, it is also a shattering portrait of a marriage fueled by alcohol and wasted by wealth. The Beautiful and Damned, Fitzgerald wrote to Zelda in 1930, "was all true."
Lyrical, romantic, yet cruelly incisive, it signaled a new stage in Fitzgerald's career. With The Beautiful and Damned, H.L. Mencken commented in The Smart Set, "Fitzgerald ceases to be a wunderkind, and begins to come into his maturity.
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I really enjoyed this reading - the narrators' camellion voice captures the various characters tones imaginetively and distinctively. The novel is a tale of love, of history, of woe and immorality. There is no true hero to the story, but nonetheless leaves the listener enamoroured with anthony and gloria's helplessness and deterioration. You hate them for their snobbery, idolize their lavishness, balame them for their fate, and pity them for their eventual destruction.
So excellent. I read this book years ago, but didn't think what I now realize: It is every bit as good as the great American novel (and social commentary) we have in Gatsby.
At first I was unsure of the reader William Dufris because his voices were not the ones I had in my head, especially for Gloria. But eventually I gave myself over to his version and found them brilliant, even down to giving her a midwestern flavor.
The one thing I did find grating was the shrill little kid screeching "Audible for Kids." Please remove that from the audio. Not to mention that this novel is not "for kids."
Fitzgerald's ability to describe the tedium of life is outstanding. This is thick description at it's best. Fitzgerald's novel gives the reader a semiautobiographical account of madness with a style that reveals what most of us would not see in the course of everyday life. He allows me the pleasure of reading with a knowing smile the plight of people struggling to "have fun". He does not miss a thing. The desciption is so good and so thick at times I felt the tedium myself and needed to read something else as a break. You return to the book as a moth to a flame.
It's tough to capture all of Fitzgerald's nuances, especially in this novel, his second book (the one before Gatsby), but this narrator does it. This book contains some of Fitzgerald's finest conversational dialogue, and you can really feel Fitzgerald's relationship with Zelda, who was only about 22 at the time of writing.
The beginning also really captures a few elements of Fitzgerald's childhood (better profiled in This Side of Paradise). For any serious scholar of the '20s, this is a must-read, and big fans of Gatsby will not be dissapointed, especially at the intimate explorations of Fitzgerald's relationships, and the birth of post-modern conversation.
I'd tried to listen to this book from a different reader once before - couldn't get through the first few chapters as a result, and I just recall hating the book as a result. So I gave it another try with this new reader. Dufris has some odd voices, but the Anthony Patch character, and his acting through this complex part, really made Fitzgerald's prose sing. I am new to Fitzgerald, recently having read new bios on Zelda, so I've been more keenly interested in his works. Dufris seemed to be in tune with the characters, flow, style that Fitzgerald imbued his piece with. Great book, great performance, worth the time. Entertaining.
This is not the Great Gatsby, which is an engrossing and timeless novel. This one by Fitzgerald did not hold my attention as well, and I found it a bit tedious. This is a story about irresponsible party-goers with alcoholism problems. I plodded through the novel, with many parts quite enjoyable. The reader is excellent. As a New Yorker, I did enjoy the depiction of New York life in the 1910's. It is recognizable as a modern New York City, although obviously much has changed. Much earlier than that (say, Edith Wharton's House of Mirth) and it feels like a different time.
I've made it a point to read Scott Fitzgerald's earlier works and, while I found This Side of Paradise somewhat interesting, Beautiful and Damned is flat out boring. It reminds me of "The Good Life," by Jay Mcinerny, (Who has been compared to Fitz before)- where it inserts you into the boring lives of people with too much money, too much alcohol, and not much interesting to say. I think this might have been exciting 80 years ago. Fitz didn't really perfect his art until Great Gatsby. While 'Paradise,' is still somewhat entertaining for nostalgia sake, they should let this one go out of print. I've read some of the other reviews and I don't know how anyone managed to care about any of the cardboard characters. If it was written by a less-famous author, no one on here would have given it a read in the first place. Only the name brand made anyone 'pretend' to like it.
"A depressing but brilliantly written book"
Scott Fitzgerald's 'the Great Gatsby' must be one of the greatest books of the 20th century, and if you enjoyed it, then this book is for you. The story is set out in the blurb above, so I wont repeat it. Suffice it to say that it is a gripping if grim tale and quite brilliantly written - I kept winding back, as it were, just to hear bits of Fitzgerald's sublime prose again - I wish I could write half as well as that! Stunning stuff.
The narration by William Dufris is superb just right for the book. He brings it all alive.
Four stars for me as the story is quite depressing and doom-laden, but you cant stop listening.
"Wharton, Fitzgerald, Yates, Updike??"
So much in East Coast and contemporary American Literature is owed to F Scott Fitzgerald that it is worth straying beyond the bounds of The Great Gatsby to get his take on Caf? Society and the state of mind of marriage and money and status. A great and underated book that links the chain of great American writers who have placed New York at the centre of literary culture. Essential reading for those in the know.
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