A Bringer of New Things

I want to read and learn all I can, write thoughtfully and truthfully, live according to reason and ever more mature wisdom, and savor every wonderful little gift of life.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I read This Side of Paradise because I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby (well, the writing more than the actual story). But this Fitzgerald novel, which I believe was his first, didn’t delight me quite as much.

The story chronicles the growing-up years of the main character, Amery Blaine, an intellectual but egotistical boy. The accounts of his education, friends, dates, and other events in his life are peppered with continual reflections from Amery on his own personality.  Does he significantly change throughout the story? Hmm…I think you’ll just have to read and decide for yourself.

My favorite thing about the book was how Amery liked to read and write poetry. I enjoyed reading “his” poems and reflections about the things he read and learned. For example, here is part of a poem “he” wrote during a university lecture about the Victorian period; he is using allusions to capture the Victorian opinion (at least as he’s understanding it) that an orderly appearance is more important than actual order:

“Songs in the time of order
You left for us to sing,
Proofs with excluded middles,
Answers to life in rhyme,
Keys of the prison warder
And ancient bells to ring,
Time was the end of riddles,
We were the end of time.”

It was also neat to be immersed in the setting of that time period and to go with Amery to Princeton in those old glory days before the World Wars changed everything. This is probably the main attraction of the book today, in my opinion.

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4 comments on “This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. emilievardaman
    May 12, 2014

    Haven’t read either The Great Gatsby nor This Side of Paradise. Thanks for the prompt. I think I’ll put Gatsby, at least, on my list.

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    • Sarrah J. Woods
      May 12, 2014

      Yes, I definitely recommend reading Gatsby, as opposed to watching a film of it. The writing is just gorgeous.

      Like

  2. Emily J.
    May 12, 2014

    I’ve been eyeing this one for a while, especially since reading The Great Gatsby a few times in college. This sounds a bit autobiographical for Fitzgerald, but now I’m not so sure I want to read it! Thanks for the review.

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    • Sarrah J. Woods
      May 12, 2014

      Yeah, This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby are definitely of different stripes. I haven’t looked into the history of his life and writing yet; it may be that This Side is autobiographical. You may get more out of it than I did, as books connect with people differently, of course. If you do get around to reading it, I’ll be interested to hear your reactions, Emily!

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This entry was posted on May 12, 2014 by in Discoveries from Learning and tagged , , , , .
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