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L'envers du paradis
par F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Thank god that's over. ( )
A major theme in the novel is the disillusionment, or disappointment one feels as one grows older.
I actually liked this novel quite a bit. It's not as good as The Great Gatsby, but it's worth the read if you enjoyed Fitzgerald's writing style. This Side of Paradise is his first novel originally published in 1920 and like his other works it's semiautobiographical. Yet this isn't much like The Great Gatsby. I would like to compare the two, but there isn't much to compare.
I really like how Fitzgerald writes his characters. He gives them unique names (like Amory Blaine) and he has good character development. Maybe it's because they are based on real people, but they make great book characters. He really does capture what it's like to be an American with his characters too. We are mostly laid back, in need of having a good time, and we are always looking for a better life. In my opinion, Fitzgerald's characters are still contemporary compared to other authors of his time.
The first half of this novel was my favorite part. It's all about watching a boy become a man. Maybe I'm being biases with liking this part cause almost any man can relate to Amory. He might not be a likeable character, but I'll admit I care about my looks and who I am socially a lot of times. I think most men are a little egotistical with things we do during the day when you really stop and think about it all.
I didn't really care for the second part of the novel though. That's when it got a little boring for me and talk a little to much about politics of the time. The second part you might need footnotes or something to know what they are referencing. There is a part Amory is list a few authors he dislikes from that times and I only knew a couple. That was a funny part to read because he was saying how they are good writers, but none of them have actually wrote anything good. Here you got me from the 21st century not knowing these authors.
The other thing I really liked about this novel was the fact it was more experimental then I thought. Wasn't even aware Fitzgerald wrote experimental stuff before. This is experimental because it's a novel but at one point you are reading a play, a letter, and a poem. This showed to me that Fitzgerald was interested in writing multiple genres and not just a basic novel. Makes for a good first book I guess.
I still think after reading this that Fitzgerald is a great American novelist, if not the best. As I said before he does an awesome job capturing what it means to be an American and his characters are still contemporary. Tons of young readers are still picking up the Great Gatsby and falling in love like it's a brand new book. After reading This Side of Paradise, you can see that that book was the start of some more grand coming form Fitzgerald's mind.
It’s an interesting (or whatever) book. I guess many (though not all) young people are just naturally elitist, since youth is that time when you dream that life will be perfect, when you are probably least concerned about God and other unpleasant people, (Remember the poor! —Eww, that guy? He’s gross, and ugly. Screw you God, I want to worship myself, and the shape of my face), and when—at least in your imagination—there is still some chance of growing up and becoming rich and Proving To Them That You Were The Best. Or, you know, it’s just that the bodies of the young are perfect, and the incomes of the rich are perfect, so the two things seem naturally to go together…. (~) I guess it would be a good book to read if you think ‘back then’, ‘they’ were all (Downton Abbey Dowager Countess), you know. I probably should have read it in my early 20s, although if I had, I probably would have written some stupid angst-filled rejection, for some silly reason, right.
Not that it’s the Best Book Ever, for all that. I actually think Amory is—oh the anger this word can stir up!—basically, you know, weak. [“delicate” etc]. He’s just like any other person who’s trying to escape from what’s inside them, right, and thinking they could do it if only they were rich, if everything worked out…. And he really is rich, so he can drink all the time, and with beautiful people, of course…. Scott does give him intellectual trappings, and presents him as being healed and whole or whatever, no longer a selfish brat, by story’s end we’re promised (kinda like that Ned Vizzini book that ends, you know, And That’s Why I’ll Never Kill Myself, and seven years later, he killed himself. I hate to, you know. I mean, some people look at suicides, or failed alcoholics, and say, you know, BAD. But I remember when I was a troubled youth doing nothing but listening to people’s music who died of alcoholism at 27, and thought that the ONLY problem, in the whole world, was people saying that. People define success differently and say Physician heal thyself is a cliche, but. “He failed in life, but got into the encyclopedia. Bravo, chap. Cheerio.”) that of course now Amory (Scott) has got it, right, but Scott died long before the age of fifty, of a broken heart, considering his time past and himself a failure. He was kinda a fair weather soul. He was weak. And, you know. I’m not saying to have CONTEMPT, or that I’m Never weak, you know.
But, there’s that.
…. It’s odd that Scott and Steinbeck should have their lives overlap—and their careers, even, Almost, you know. They are like chalk and cheese. A striking example that people of the same look can be almost opposite, although obviously it’s not only white guys who are like that. I don’t read as many Black women, so I don’t know, but maybe bell hooks and Toni Morrison—you can be less liberal than Toni Morrison, (I won’t speak of the bell tower—like in that song about Bozo the Clown, “like a sniper in a tower” LOL), but you can’t be more lyrical and (strangely) happy. Of course, the ages don’t work as well with those two, but given my knowledge I’m drawing from a smaller pool. As for Scott and Steinbeck, they are both a little contemptible, although I don’t know which is worse, you know. Sheer arbitrary exclusion—“you look full-blooded to me”, Damn you’re dark! he said to the token half-Cherokee after said character’s one-line, non-white one-line, out of 500 pages—or, you know, just shameless Lying! “Oh, I practically run the Catholic Church. Say, I’ll be talking to the Bishop this afternoon, and I thought I’d run my talking points past you, about how we should switch out Jesus for Freud, you know, before I run it by His Grace. My, how rich I am! But we mustn’t be too moral! How boring! What’s wrong with a little incest, when, when—why, when you Want to!”
Intellectual posturing about things they don’t care about, etc. yeah….
…. So I don’t know. It’s just…. odd little people, you know.
…. Incidentally, the Modern Library edition is terrible: no notes. (What did I pay them for?)
Anyway, I feel sad, you know. I mean, it’s cute; he’s like a little kid, right. But he doesn’t know—and he’s going to get himself hurt, and do the wrong thing. It’s sad. Poor Duckie.
—Don’t do that, Duckie. You’ll get hurt.
—No, really. You’ll feel sad.
—Quack! (waddles off)
—Ack, no. Oh well. (to stranger) But I mean, he’ll feel sad, you know.
—In Germany we do not talk to strangers. You Americans are very funny.
—Oh yeah, I guess. Oh well! Goodbye.
…. Of course, some allowance has to be made for him, because of what passed for a clergyman in his case, what passed for religion, all—Oh, don’t worry about it, my boy; don’t worry about doing hard things. You’re rich!
I don’t know, but whenever somebody doesn’t make it morally, we have to look and see if they were doing what they were taught, what they knew, because then it’s diminished responsibility, you know. “Oh, yes, my boy, we all pretend to be Christians, in front of a clergyman, you know; and he pretends that we’ve done something grand by feeding our face with little cakes.”
…. I suppose it’s nice that he had some good moments, before it all came crashing down. (Rejoice with those who rejoice, if that’s all they’ll accept, even if it’s a little, you know, temporary.) Like Ed Sheeran, right. “And tonight had something wonderful.” If only there were no words in that song, but, oh well. I guess that the beautiful and the damned have a music all their own, and sometimes it’s nice, almost, you know.
…. You know, Puritans often take the Herod/Herodias/John the Baptist story to be a sexual fall, but I think that the girl may be like eight seconds old and that her dance wasn’t sexual, just daughterly, you know. Herod just wants to be the Good Parent, the Big Man, so he says, Ask for what you want and I’ll give it to you, to prove he can do what he likes and that he’s rich or whatever, and so the girl is coached to say, Kill John the Baptist—give up your religious pretensions. Of course he’s embarrassed—he loves his religious pretensions—but rather than lose face in front of the other rich people by going back on his boast….
I think Amory at Princeton speaks to that interpretation. (Incidentally Princeton was all white men in the 20s; the book really needs historical notes.)
…. (~) Although I suppose the thing about elitists is that that’s how most people would act, given the chance. (The average sort of person—strange, don’t you think?)
…. I don’t know. I suppose you can’t always be THAT much better than the…. you know, but even once they were done, with all that sort of thing, they cared for neither art nor science. Even trying to consider the state of education in 1920—‘They might not think we’re better than they are!’—you know, it’s like…. I mean, it doesn’t last forever, and they did expect to be treated as though they knew something, you know…. I mean, it would have made the whole thing more honest! Even if you’re screwing around a little bit before you get married—as though you didn’t have it and never COULD get married—I mean, to ask someone to get involved with your antics, shouldn’t there be that other side to you?….
…. Of course, they never seem to have read a woman or a man of color, you know, and they muse about the superiority of the light-haired man. Some of those light-skinned, light-haired men probably did have talent, but these jokers seemed to be grooving on their appearance, you know.
And in their case public prayer just seems to have turned into class loyalty, and shocking ignorance and indifference, you know. This is where all our late-twentieth century/twenty-first century atheists/unchurched people came from. Gee, they used to go to church, they knew all about it…. Which one was Jesus, again? Did he live 365 years, and then get translated to heaven? (I know the lingo!)
…. I guess you’re supposed to think that he comes back from the war and starts to live without ego, but at the same time he doesn’t seem to put all that much effort into this, most of it is, Don’t worry, the first half of life doesn’t end—you know…. “She’s moral but not too moral”, or whatever he said. (I wonder how you live up to that.) And basically the whole thing is just ‘enlightenment’ or edification as the ultimate ego trip, a convincing fake, although again I’m not sure how much he’s really putting into the forgery, you know. “Looks a bit like a twenty…. Who’s on the twenty, again? Was it Madison? Well, it was some rich old boy, I’m sure….”
I’m not saying that you have this live this terrible denial of how you really feel, you know. But it’s also something a little different than this.
…. It’s not unlike Anglo-Polish Joe, you know, that line. (She’s not moral and she’s not immoral; she’s a one of a kind blend. —Oh, sweet flattery. If only it meant something.) “I don’t want to be for the rape of Africa, and I don’t want to be against the rape of Africa, because it’s all very…. ambiguous!” “I don’t want to be for mistreating my girlfriend/boyfriend, and I don’t want to be against mistreating her or him, but ah…. Ah…. Somebody throw me a line here.” “Ambiguous.” “Right. What that chap said. I mean, I just figure, as long as it’s white men, you know.”
…. There were of course some women writers back then, but only girls read them, and they weren’t considered “the best”. (Today, of course, men read usually at least 2.5% women writers, and a woman has to get at least honorable mention at the prizes. And people come out as gay, lol, not straight. Although people today are still conscripted into the Great Straight Army, ha.)
Which isn’t to say that they aren’t still basically the same shallow person, hurting themself. I suppose Jill or whatever the hell her name is is slightly more conscious of her faults than Frank, but only so she can very carefully make sure that her wounds are never healed, never closed up. “I just like being young and rich and avoiding responsibility and suffering. So, I plan ahead, for a life full of money and empty of responsibility. (Will I still get old and suffer? I’d better not! La!).
…. It’s amusing, although terribly deluded. It’s bittersweet because I suppose you like Frank, but you can see he’s going to crash and burn, yeah. Ooo.
…. And of course the critic has a special talent: he doesn’t like anybody. (—Should I read books? —No!). So it’s alcoholics and robots, you know. —Anybody to talk to, just another soul? —A person, another person? No, too much of a burden. Or not worth doing.
…. Ooo, poetry! I have poetry!
—So when you gonna tell her
That we did that too, she thinks it’s, special
But it’s all reused, this was our place
I found it first
I made the jokes you tell to her
When she’s with you
Do you get deja vu when she’s with you?
Do you get deja vu?….
…. I guess I’m in between Tolle (who would cryptically and vaguely say not to read the book) and Wayne (who would hail Frank as father and forerunner), in that I think it’s entertaining and I liked reading it on that level, and people are like this, they act like this, even if it doesn’t really teach you much of anything, and it seems like for Frank even enlightenment is more or less about self-promotion….
I’m not sure why Frank’s guy thinks he’s a Christian; I guess just because he’s an American. His temporary girlfriend’s temporary psychosis, well, it doesn’t make sense Really, but it’s easier to understand, you know—although it’s a pity about the horse. (The psychotic atheist girlfriend is weird though—not like an actual person, but just like an Other to my “self”. I am “Christian”; you are “other”, therefore….)
On the other end of it, Richard does say that we should be mystics, not mystified, and my father probably thinks he’s sort of church historian, and my literal church historian at my church, Jamie, (who I obviously love less than my father, but whom I judge to probably be more reliable and sane, lol), is giving me a ride to work tomorrow, so I don’t know. Your country is part of your faith in a way. I just wonder about Frank’s Monsignor, probably one of these priests who thinks that being a Christian means: (a) shaving twice a day, (b) having a good belt, (c) “because who but a priest could really Know that God’s not real, that everything weird in the end, just isn’t true, or (d) all of the above.
If none of that makes sense it’s probably because I’m rambling. But I do think being Christian—I mean, it doesn’t mean a perfect scorecard, or even perfect purity, and it certainly doesn’t mean the self-seeking of me and the story of me and my purity—but it does mean sometimes not acting in your own interests, sometimes not clinging to your own comfort, and I think Frank never did that, and even on some level thought the opposite.
…. “He felt that life had rejected him.” (the unworthiness belief)
That seems to be what’s behind this desire to be punished, regardless of whether there’s “John Smith” and “Mary Brown” in it…. I feel sad for John Smith and Mary Brown, often relying on the unreliable, getting hurt, feeling powerless…. I don’t know. I mean, I suppose you’re not with someone, you pretend you are, just like you eat when you’re hungry, and it doesn’t make you better to drive yourself on to worse things. (Although it’s never good to lie. Frank is strange, it’s like, His fault is worse, but, he’s entitled, so I’ll enable him….). I don’t know…. Obviously it can be quite bad. (Duh.) I mean, there’s an awful lot of feeling unloved in it, you know, and then afterwards you just feel like, you know, you’re unloved. You don’t really feel that same sense of rejection after eating a vegan cookie, you know. I mean, an encounter could be like a vegan cookie. But if you feel rejected by life, that’s not what you’re going to get. (“I gave your brother Jake all the money.”) To get like the wise king’s love song, you’d have to have, not so much money, really, just being full, having enough. (The only internal state explicitly condemned in the Decalogue is greed. Everything else is behavior, but greed is a thought.) I mean, I don’t know which kind of food I want to slander, (maybe it’s not even really food), but you want too much and you think you deserve nothing good—I mean, garbage in, garbage out. It’s not that you have to be like the Love’s Labour’s Lost guys (although of course, the reason why the girls chased them is not just because it’s a comedy, but also because they’re worth having), but I mean…. I mean, what you’ve heard is a Little true, you know.
…. I don’t know, Frank, I said slowly. Are you sure you’re feeling alright? You know you’re not the Wisest Man Who Ever Lived, right?
…. So what if I don’t like poor people? cried Frank. Does that mean I can’t be a Socialist?
—I don’t care what anybody says, they should put something like that in the DSM. Political psychosis: when one’s social or political opinions do not correspond with reality, or one’s lived experiences.
Oh, bugger off! exclaimed Frank. I was only saying something Grand! You wouldn’t understand! We all live in the land! It’s all rot, God and the invisible hand!
…. I’m Someone! I’m Me! I’m a nut, but I’m Someone! I’m a nut, but I’m Me!
Fitzgerald was only 23 when this book was published and I should have read it when I was 23.
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"it bears the impress, it seems to me, of genius. It is the only adequate study that we have had of the contemporary American in adolescence and young manhood."
"The glorious spirit of abounding youth glows throughout this fascinating tale. . . The whole story is disconnected, more or less, but loses none of its charm on that account. It could have been written only by an artist who knows how to balance his values, plus a delightful literary style."
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Novels and Stories 1920-1922: This Side of Paradise / Flappers and Philosophers / The Beautiful and the Damned / Tales of the Jazz Age par F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby / Tender is the Night / This Side of Paradise / The Beautiful and the Damned / The Last Tycoon par F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tender Is the Night / This Side of Paradise / The Great Gatsby / The Last Tycoon par F. Scott Fitzgerald
A este lado del paraíso ; El gran Gatsby ; [traducción, A este lado del paraíso, Juan Benet Goitia ; traducción, El gran Gatsby, E. Piñas] par F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Here is the accomplished first novel that catapulted Fitzgerald to literary fame at the age of 23. It follows the education--intellectual, spiritual, and sexual--of young Amory Blaine. Revised and repackaged.
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Classification décimale de Melvil (CDD)813.52 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1900-1944
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2 éditions de ce livre ont été publiées par Penguin Australia.
Éditions: 0141185570, 014119409X
2 éditions de ce livre ont été publiées par Urban Romantics.
Éditions: 190967673X, 1909676748
Une édition de ce livre a été publiée par Tantor Media.