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This Side of Paradise

F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel

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In with a Roar

  • Jun 16, 2010

F. Scott Fitzgerald spent his entire career in the same vein set forth in this debut novel, first published in 1920 when the author was 23. He was a master of capturing the essence of the era--the glamorous and privileged New English lifestyle and all its deliriously unbelievable characters. This Side of Paradise creates an environment for Fitzgerald to exist, and it is perfectly indispensable.

This Bildungsroman (or coming-of-age novel) concentrates on the young Amory Blaine. This not-so-vaguely autobiographical story follows Blaine from a modest Midwestern means during childhood to an almost-attained glory in the East Coast boarding school and Ivy League circuit. Then there's a war, as there is always the war in novels of this time, and impoverished heartbreak. The urgency and hope of Blaine reflect Fitzgerald's suspicions that he was meant for greatness, and it's true: this sensational piece of raw fiction catapulted him to perennial fame.

I read this first during early high school (age 14 or 15), and it remains my favorite piece of classic literature (I will be 25 in less than a month). There are flaws--particularly the interjected screenplay--but I find these flaws in the great master Fitzgerald to be charming. He's just as cracked as his characters, as his audience, as his country...

This novel will be best read during a single afternoon on a warm summer's day with a glass of Amaretto-spiked lemonade on a shady porch.

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June 28, 2010
Extra points for using the B word that I won't bother to misspell! Thanks for the insight, excellent comments.
June 17, 2010
"Amaretto-spiked lemonade on a shady porch." F. Scott would be proud!
More This Side of Paradise reviews
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
all of Fitzgerald's novels have the same basic theme but if you enjoy that genre, this one is as good as the rest!
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Loved The Great Gatsby but couldn't finish this one.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
I normally love FSF, but this left me cold.
review by . August 05, 2001
I missed this one back in college, where I became enamoured of much more sophisticated writers (Joyce and Hemingway, though some here may question this characterization of Hemingway at least). Indeed, I had liked THE GREAT GATSBY back then but was not overly fond of the Fitzgerald opus of short stories so, on balance, I never felt motivated to read any further into his works. And yet I recently found a copy of this one so, having a little time on my hands, set out to read it. At first it was slow …
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ashley ()
Ranked #621
   on the cusp of my twenty-fifth year of existence, i present to you all my accumulated literary knowledge from my global travels (both on actual airplanes and trains as well as the world i've … more
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About this book


Fitzgerald's first novel, reprinted in the handsome Everyman's Library series of literary classic, uses numerous formal experiments to tell the story of Amory Blaine, as he grows up during the crazy years following the First World War. It also contains a new introduction by Craig Raine that describes critical and popular reception of the book when it came out in 1920.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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ISBN-10: 0684843781
ISBN-13: 978-0684843780
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Scribner

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