“This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald tells the fictional story of Amory Blaine, born with a silver spoon in his mouth; heir to wealth, has good looks and sophistication. The story is set in the early 20th Century in the northeastern United States. After traveling the country with his mother, Amory attends St. Regis prep school and, even though lazy in his studies, manages somehow to have his pick between Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities (he chooses Princeton).
Initially Amory is concerned abut his popularity but his laziness takes over and he prefers to be self-taught through reading and discussions with his friends. At the start of World War I, Amory enlists instead of getting his degree. During his overseas service, his girlfriend, Beatrice, dies. Upon his return Amory meets Rosalind Connage, the sister of his friend and the two fall in love. However, Amory is now poor due to his family’s poor investments and Rosalind breaks off with him to marry someone rich.
Amory, devastated over Rosalind, goes on a drinking binge which ends when Prohibition begins. At this point, Amory begins his quest to know himself, he has a short summer romance, discovers that Monsignor Darcy, his father figure, passed away and that he has almost no money left. Amory decides to walk to Princeton, only to be picked up by a wealthy father of a military buddy who died in the war. This is a chance for Amory to pontificate on some socialist principles and continues to walk to Princeton pining for Rosalind.
The famous ending “I know myself, but that is all-” did not resonate with me. After serving in the military, traveling to fourteen countries and have loved and lost, at the age of 25 I started to realize one thing – that I don’t know anything.
I did not care for this book. The plot is weak without any means to move it forward; even Amory’s military service is almost skipped over. I could not find anything remotely interesting in the poor-little-rich-boy story nor did I find any other character engaging. Amory is, to say the least, annoying, aloof and pathetic. Occasionally there is some brilliant passage here and there, but it gets lost among Fitzgerald’s rambling of self-centered and arrogant philosophy of a man turning towards a socialist class.
If you read “This Side of Paradise
” be prepared to endure endless intellectual posturing, endless poetry which does nothing but keeps pages filled, pompous dialog and silly romances all leading to an unsatisfying end. Yes, Amory finally knows himself, but unfortunately for him so does the reader – and there is very little to admire.
Zohar – Man of La Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free
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