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The Beautiful and Damned (Macmillan Popular Classics)
The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second novel, tells the story of Anthony Patch, a 1920s socialite and presumptive heir to a tycoon’s fortune. Anthony and his wife Gloria are young and gorgeous, rich and leisured, and dedicate their lives to the reckless pursuit of happiness. But this intimate story turns tragic, as their marriage disintegrates under the weight of their expectations, dissipation, jealousy and aimlessness.
Fitzgerald skilfully portrays the east-coast elite as the Jazz Age begins its ascent, engulfing all classes into what will soon be known as Cafe Society. As with all of Fitzgerald’s novels, it is a brilliant character study written in breathtaking prose. It is also a gripping account of the complexities of marriage, largely based on Fitzgerald’s relationship with his wife, Zelda.
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Among the “Lost Generation” of writers that came of age during the Roaring Twenties, the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) epitomized “The Jazz Age”: a period of declining traditional values, prohibition and speakeasies, and great artistic leaps. Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise, was a financial success, but subsequent ones, including his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, sold poorly. In need of money, he turned to writing commercial short stories and Hollywood scripts, while his lifelong alcoholism destroyed his health and led to an early death. The 1945 reissue of The Great Gatsby spurred a wide resurgence of interest, and Fitzgerald is now considered one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century.