Monday, March 23, 2009

Gnothi seauton.

Current book: This Side of Paradise
Pages read: 197-255 (end)

I'd describe the rest of the plot to you, but there are two fundamental problems that stand in my way. The first is that there wasn't really any more plot, and the second is that the plot is completely irrelevant to the point of the book. Are you thinking to yourself, "Wait, really? How can a book be any good if the plot isn't important?" You should be. It can't.

I lied, because here's what happens in the last sixty pages or so: Amory wanders around aimlessly, falls in and out of love with another girl, and decides that he can't really believe in any particular philosophy, religion, or set of goals, but really knows only himself.

I think Fitzgerald is trying to give us a portrait of the coming-of-age of a young man in his diseased modern era. He's attempting to display Amory as an archetype of the youth of the early 20th century - educated, a little debauched, and in the end, disaffected. That said, the one thing Amory does end up clinging to is the value of his love for Rosalind, the only girl in his string of women that he was really and truly in love with, and who left him for the man with more money. I like that love is what's important, both to Amory and Fitzgerald, and I can respect that Fitzgerald is trying to make the point that his society is askew because money won over the purity of human passion. That said, I found the plot tedious at best, and the repetition of the same events - Amory taking up a philosophy or business venture or girl-of-the-moment and then getting disillusioned and/or heartbroken - obnoxious and predictable. I understand that the point wouldn't have been as well made without the repetition, nor would Amory's eventual conclusion that he can only know himself been as believable, but that didn't make me really enjoy reading it.

Then again, it was better than The Beautiful and Damned. Quite a bit, actually. I liked Amory, for starters, and felt that the decisions he made were believable and sympathetic, as opposed to Fitzgerald's other characters, who are pretty much universally loathsome. Also, I think Fitzgerald had a really good time in college, and that makes me like him a little more.

Sometimes I just don't know about the people who made this list. It's like they haven't actually read the novels, but instead just wrote things down that would make it look good. It's my current working theory.

Tomorrow: talking animals with illustrations!

No comments:

Post a Comment


A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)