Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Revisiting F. Scott

Over the past few weeks I’ve been leisurely working my way through The Beautiful and the Damned, mixing a few pages here and a chapter there among the other books I've been reading. It turned out to be the perfect way to reread this book without feeling the need to race through the familiar in order to move on to tackling something new from my To Read list.

The last time I read (and reread and reread) The Beautiful and the Damned was in college, when I was poring over all of Fitzgerald’s novels for my senior thesis. Back then, I was just about the same age as the characters Gloria and Anthony Patch are when they’re in the midst of their first love and their whirlwind, upper class life in Manhattan. Rereading it now, when I’m closer to the ages that Gloria and Anthony are when they’re washed up at the end of the novel, was an interesting experience. Though I don’t necessarily feel like I related to their characters any more than I once did, I do feel like I understood them in a deeper way (alcoholism and nervous breakdown aside, of course). I was also surprised to find that the story wasn’t as good as I remembered it to be, but the writing itself was much, much better. Certain passages were filled with such beautiful language and such clever descriptions that I had to stop to read them several times over, reminding myself why I love Fitzgerald.


With all of this fresh in my mind, I was intrigued when I came across this post, featuring a letter written by F. Scott to his daughter Scottie, giving her advice about concerns in life and what she should (courage, efficiency) and shouldn’t (popular opinion, the past, insects in general) worry about. This would seem like a sweet letter from a father to a daughter in any context, but having just come off of one of his novels, which are temptingly easy to read through an autobiographic lens, the advice he gives seems especially poignant, as though F. Scott discovered these truths through the mistakes he made in his own life, and the mistakes we see his characters make on the page.

(images via here and here)


  1. You know, I haven't actually read this F. Scott novel. I'll put it on my to-read list.

  2. This is a lovely post Miss B. Lovely photos of F.Scott too. I love the one of him reading.



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