Everyone knows F. Scott Fitzgerald either because you read The Great Gatsby in high school, or you watched the film with the dreamy Leonardo DiCaprio. I will not be discussing The Great Gatsby because people need to broaden their knowledge of the artistic, sad soul of F. Scott Fitzgerald: a man so cool he needs three names.
A little background information is necessary when figuring out how the author became such a poetic mess. Per biography.com, he was born September 24, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. His mother had a small fortune that she inherited from her parent’s business. The Fitzgerald family eventually milked it dry. He later attended the prestigious Princeton and wrote for various literary organizations at the University. He was placed on academic probation because he wrote for fun and not for class. He then dropped out of Princeton to become a soldier in WWI; when he was stationed in Alabama, he met Zelda. I do not mean the same Zelda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch (but maybe, who knows Zelda’s powers on the show?). Fitzgerald wanted to marry Zelda, work for an advertising agency, and live a happy life. He hated working in business; he left the business world to write. Zelda left him for a short time until he was able to win her back because like most writers, he was moody and hard to handle. Eventually he became an alcoholic mess and his wife went to a mental hospital in Asheville, N.C. for the remainder of their marriage. He started out with such passion and excitement only to drink himself away and wallow in sadness. Turns out happy endings don’t always happen, even for the talented.
Fun Fact: Fitzgerald is the Third Cousin of Francis Scott Key, the writer of the Star Spangled Banner
Now this is a brief background/timeline of the life of Amory Blaine, the main character of This Side of Paradise. Amory Blaine is from the Midwest (that’s where Minnesota is). His mother had a small fortune which they used up throughout Amory’s childhood. Amory attended Princeton, where he wrote for various Princetonian literary magazines. He was placed on academic probation for not caring about his studies as much as one should. Amory joins the war. He falls in love with three women, starting with Rosalind. Amory tries working in advertising but leaves because he wants to write. (This is sounding so familiar.) Rosalind chooses to marry another man because man number two can financially support her lifestyle of luxury and upper class responsibilities. He meets and falls in love with two other women, but will always love Rosalind with such intensity he will never recover. Amory eventually drinks to forget his life and his sadness that he has accumulated.
I’m not saying it’s an autobiography, but it is basically an autobiography.
Does this novel sound interesting? Yes. If you don’t agree, I have listed wonderful lines in a random order so that you will have to read the book to find out where they happen in the novel. Keep in mind, that this is a novel full of romanticized teen angst written in such a way that you will miss your teen angst. That’s saying something.
“[T]he dull ache of a setting sun when even the clouds seemed bleeding and at twilight he came to the graveyard.”
“I am the opposite of everything spring ever stood for.”
“Tonight I want you to love me calmly and coolly. The beginning of the end.”
“I suppose all great happiness is a little sad. Beauty means the scent of roses and then the death of roses- Beauty means the agony of sacrifice and the end of agony.”
“Because selfish people are in a way terribly capable of great loves.”
And finally the quote everyone knows because every girl posts it on some form of social media: “why don’t you tell me that “if the girl had been worth having, she’d have waited for you?” No, sir the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.”