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F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Beautiful and Damned

Fitzgerald’s second novel is not as good as either its predecessor or successor, though it is still not bad. Anthony Patch stands to inherit a lot of money from his grandfather, whom he does not like. As he has an income left him by his mother, he can do his European trip and then set up himself up in a cozy bachelor apartment in Manhattan and wait for his grandfather’s death. And this is what he does. Unfortunately, Anthony is not a fun character nor, indeed, is he particularly interesting. He is not even one of Fitzgerald’s badly behaved spoilt brat Americans. It is only when he meets Gloria Gilbert that the novel picks up. Gloria is a spoilt brat from Kansas who just wants to enjoy herself. And that is pretty much the novel. The couple party, spend money and wait for grandfather to die. We watch them, of course, slowly sinking down, Gloria losing her looks, Anthony losing his mind, as there has to be a price paid for such indulgence, but we don’t really care and, we suspect, nor does Fitzgerald. Of course, Fitzgerald writes well and, when it comes to the decadence of rich Americans, there is none better, but he wrote better books.

Publishing history

First published 1922 by Scribner’s