Ian Robinson's Reviews > This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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May 04, 12

Read in May, 2012

I read this straight after reading Tender Is The Night, and for the majority of this book I felt it wasn't as good as his later novel. I felt at first that the problem lay in how posh and superior Amory and his friends and their environment were. However, it took until after the Great War for this world of the glittering spires of Princeton and privilege to become tarnished, seen for the empty nothingness it is.
Just as Amory makes this realization after the extended sabbatical of middle class malaise, we the reader follow him through trysts and, on the whole, mild traumas, until he realizes the emptiness at the heart of the system he had suckled at.
Fitzgerald, through his mouthpiece Amory, aims to look at his generation, the so-called Lost Generation. He is aware of other writers of his time, and I personally thought of Conrad's Heart Of Darkness. Throwing off the trappings of the Congo and a river journey, the metaphysical journey into the ripe fruit of the best vines of the generation finds only a rotten and barren harvest.
I found myself thinking ahead to the end of that decade, wondering how Amory would respond to the Wall Street Crash of 1928 and the subsequent Great Depression. Where would Amroy be in the epic journey of The Grapes Of Wrath? And here, just under a century on, with another crash and a depression only worsening as the months turn into years, how much as truly changed?
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