this side of paradise1

F. Scott Fitzgerald Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise Book I Many critics have complained, with justice, that a great flaw in This Side of Paradise (aside from its loose, rambling structure) is the fact that the author seems uncertain as to his own attitude. He mocks the romantic delusions or emotional melodrama of his “little rich boy,” Amory Blaine, while too often he shares, or seems to share, in the delusions themselves. There is, in short, a kind of “smart” pseudo-sophistication imbedded within the narrative itself-a series of “clever comments” inserted for the sake of the cleverness rather than for any aesthetic purpose. And one result of this aesthetic self-indulgence is that the reader may find it difficult to take either Amory or his adventures with any degree of seriousness at all. Indeed, one feels as though the author himself were doing what Amory does during the course of the narrative: he merely holds the posture of writing about what actually is a very slight matter. Gesture Without Substance The need for some sort of imposing or melodramatic gesture is, of course, one of the chief qualities of Amory Blaine as an adolescent. That neither Amory nor his creator-F. Scott Fitzgerald-ever grew out of this need, is a fact that readers of Fitzgerald’s works have recognized as central to the direction of his life and career. For Amory, at any rate, and for his mother Beatrice Blaine as well, the posture of reality all too often replaces reality itself, while gesture stands as a substitute for emotional commitment. A woman of inherited wealth, Beatrice Blaine is a lovely, charming, superficial, childlike woman who maintains the posture of romance, a mere surface superimposed upon an essentially frigid or infantile refusal to commit herself to anything at all. She is, of course, the prototype for what has come to be known as the “Fitzgerald Woman” – an “enchanting” but essen…

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