On the front flap of this book you read: "At the outset of what he called 'the greatest, the gaudiest spree in history,' F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the novels and stories that brought him instant fame, mastering the glittering aphoristic prose and keen social observation that would distinguish all his writing."
Now, we've all heard about F. Scott Fitzgerald. He's most well-known for "The Great Gatsby," but you may have read some of his other earlier novels as well. At the beginning of his writing career, Fitzgerald seemed destined for unlimited success. In the early 1920s, he was the embodiment and the chronicler of the Jazz Age. So, in this volume, Jackson R. Bryer presents a collection of Fitzgerald's early works: This Side of Paradise (1920), Flappers and Philosophers (1920), The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), and Tales of the Jazz Age (1922).
This Side of Paradise
This Side of Paradise, originally entitled "The Romantic Egoist" was Fitzgerald's first book. It's about the new life of former soldiers who fought in the war against Germany, so Fitzgerald draws upon his own experience in the army during World War I. Although the novel contains some structural and thematic flaws, the work is important — as we look at the development of Fitzgerald as a writer, and also when we see the book as a portrait of American culture and society. The early success that he experienced with this novel, "defined and haunted him for the rest of his career." Some have suggested that Fitzgerald may never have continued writing if this first work had not been so successful.
The Beautiful and the Damned
In The Beautiful and the Damned, Fitzgerald depicts Anthony Patch, who spends his grandfather's money on drinking. Again, episodes from Fitzgerald's life creep into his work. Most notable are the descriptions of wild parties, many of which Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, hosted during the first several years of their marriage. Here again, Fitzgerald continues his "dissection of an era." Bryer writes, "Here New York City, playground for the pleasure-loving Patches and brutal mirror for their dissipation is portrayed more vividly than anywhere else in Fitzgerald's work."
This edition is well-rounded up with the two collections of short stories, which appeared in 1920 and 1922. You'll find classics like "Dalyrimple Goes Wrong," "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," and "The Ice Palace" in "Flappers". "The Jelly Bean," "May Day," appear "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" as part of "Tales from the Jazz Age." Fitzgerald provided this comment about "The Jelly Bean": "It was written under strange circumstances shortly after my first novel was published, and, moreover, it was the first story in which I had a collaborator. For, finding that I was unable to manage the crapshooting episode, I turned it over to my wife, who, as a Southern girl, was presumably an expert on the technique and terminology of that great sectional pastime."
The Great Gatsby Study Guide