Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Beautiful and Damned 100 -- April 26, 2022

New York Herald, 09-April-1922

F Scott Fitzgerald's second published novel, The Beautiful and Damned, made its debut 100 years ago this month. The is the Fitzgerald novel that I have probably read the fewest times.

Albuquerque Morning Journal, 10-April-1922

Reviewer P.G.H. enjoyed the book. I like his comment about "most unique." I do not know who Mark Sabre was. 

Produces His Second Good Novel

"The Beautiful and Damned." by F. Scott Fitzgerald. ($2.00.) Scribner's.

When I read Scott Fitzgerald's first novel I thought, In common with many others, that here was an author of fresh mind and amusing style whose talents would shortly be confined to the cheaply illustrated pages of a great national weekly; but when this same Mr. Fitzgerald wrote his second, and most recent book, "The Beautiful and Damned," I find, like Mr. Mencken, that "... Fitzgerald ceases to be a junkerkind (wonderkind? - JT) and begins to come into his maturity."

There is about the book that which takes all of the reader's intelligence for granted; no feeble strolling around giving gentle hints as to what it's all about. The author builds a very interesting story around Anthony Patch, a sensitive, lazy and charming young man who marries a creature of golden hair and silver intelligence. The story is essentially Anthony's, but the other characters respond quickly and naturally to their parts. It is very broad of Fitzgerald to have his hero a Harvard man this time. Amory Blaine was of Princeton, and more of an ape than Anthony Patch.

The war has a part in the book, but only that wretched part of the war which put men through camps here in America; thin-nosed lieutenants giving feeble orders and countermanding them; splendid generals eyeing captains with care; that sort of thing which is disgusting. Anthony is a private, and his itchy O. D. clothes probably made him look more like a Gotham barber than the grandson of $30,000,000 Adam Patch.

The married life of Anthony and Gloria is remarkably well reproduced. The first discoveries on the honeymoon, of mutual fancies and opposing traits of character; Gloria's carelessness and Anthony's nervous cowardice; Gloria's selfishness and Anthony's pride; all make the marriage not quite as perfect, thank God, as most seem to be in American fiction.

Fitzgerald still has the flapper monopoly In American letters. One meets Gloria as a flapper in chapter II, and she is still a flapper at the end of the book. Anthony, on the other hand, undergoes several stages of being. Through it all he remains more or less sensitive, even after he has drunk himself shabby.

The writing in the book is of rather uneven tenor. The bright spots are in the majority, but when the author descends to his one-act-play form of dialogue the result is not as good. He treads carefully in places, having become mired in words. There is far less grammatical carelessness in this later book. He says "most unique" on page 19, which is, at worst, a venial sin.

I am a little piqued at the last sentence in the book. It sounds horribly like "If winter comes:"

"I showed them," he was saying. "It was a hard fight, but I didn't give up and I came through!"

Perhaps the banality of the thing is deliberate. It may illustrate Anthony's feeble state of mind after his spell of madness. I hope Mr. Fitzgerald intended it thus. Otherwise, I should liken it to the mouthings or the almost senile Mark Sabre, a good-deed monster supposed to live In England. P. G. H.

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