Monday, January 26, 2009

Same bat time, same bat channel.

Current book: The Beautiful and Damned
Pages read: None

So, I have to admit that I haven't really started The Beautiful and Damned yet. Updike really took it out of me, and I'm not a big fan of the only Fitzgerald I've read, which is, of course, Gatsby. Anyway, I'm posting anyway because of my weird confusion about the title of this book. It got onto my list as The Beautiful and the Damned somehow, with an extra the stuck in there. Searching around online, I've seen the same mistake made in several reputable places, and I can't say I'm surprised. It seems to flow a lot better with the extra the. I looked into the origins of the title a bit to see if he was referencing or quoting, but he doesn't seem to be, so I'm forced to conclude that Fitzgerald has a crippled sense of the rhythm of language. I don't remember Gatsby that well, what with it being a Junior AP assigned text, but it doesn't bode well.

We'll find out tomorrow when we rejoin our hero!


  1. I actually think the extra "the" totally changes the meaning. "The Beautiful and Damned" seems to apply to a single subject, who is both beautiful and damned, whereas "The Beautiful and the Damned" might suggest a plurality of subjects, some beautiful and others damned.

    Latin has no articles, but in Greek the definite article can be duplicated to indicate a repetition of subject (by using the equivalent of "the beautiful, the damned") but putting that "and" in there indicates that the two adjectives are substantive for two different groups, which is why you need a repetition of the article in English.

    Is anyone with me on this?

  2. I can't comment on Latin and Greek grammar, but I agree 100% about the change in meaning with the extra article in the title.

  3. i think it's a comment on how much soap operas have permeated our common thought. "the bold and the beautiful", "the young and the restless", "the tramps and the sluts"...


    ok, i made the last one up. but still.

  4. I'm with you, Kate. And I also always thought it was a double "the" in the title. Claire! Be sure to hit us up with some clarification! A handy classification of characters (Beautiful, Damned, Homely, Saintly, Mostly Mediocre but Doing Alright) would be right helpful.

  5. This is Rachel. I am "anonymous." How the hell does this thing work?

  6. I swear I had nothing to do with it. No, really!

  7. Well, I'd be careful what I said about Fitzgerald. Oh wait, he's already safe from your scathing criticism. Have at him then I guess.

  8. Man, I was totally going to accuse Claire of killing Updike first, but I guess I'm bit behind out here on the West Coast.



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