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.
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.