Bernice Bobs Her Hair, F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’m not going to lie, I’m not the biggest F. Scott Fitzgerald fan. I know he’s a genius, and everyone thinks that “The Great Gatsby” has some of the most beautiful character development in modern literature. Maybe its not him, I just find reading about the decadence of America’s Gilded Age a little tiresome after a while. Thus, my review of the Beautiful and Damned is coming from this burnt out perspective, I’m sure most people would disagree with me.
Fitzgerald does know how to turn a pretty word. There were numerous clever passages that I found myself underlining and wanting to go back and read. He has very stout observations about that human desperate human desire to be ‘accomplished’ but being at a loss to go about it. How does one make meaning out life? Is that even possible anymore? These are the questions that Fitzgerald’s characters ask themselves as they sit around drinking champagne and smoking cigarettes in tuxedos and sparkling dresses. These people have all the wealth in the world, and are so bored with themselves that they have become cynical. Their conversations are very “The meaning of life is that there is no meaning- now don’t I sound all intelligent and apathetic.” I will admit that the reason I find this type of dialogue so tedious is because it reminds me so much of the way that my peers and I talk to each other. Who wants to be reminded of their own ridiculousness while reading literature? I need these stories to escape my reality.
But yes, wealthy young people thinking they know everything and talking about how bored they are while being so conveniently unaware of the way most other people live their lives? Sounds pretty familiar- not to go off on Fitzgerald’s cynical theme or anything.
I do realize that one of the reasons why this novel is characterized as a ‘classic’ is that it represented the common attitude of the ‘Roaring 20’s’. The decadence of these individuals who never take time to think of tomorrow leads to their own ruin. This is especially true for the two main characters, Anthony and Gloria Patch, a young married couple. Anthony desperately spends his time seeking to make a name for himself, and when he gets tired with that he goes out to the theater and to fancy dinners with his friends where he spends large sums of money that he’s inherited. Gloria stares at herself in the mirror, admiring her beauty most days, telling herself that she would make a good actress. As Gloria grows older, she despairs at her aging face, which forces her to confront her own ideas of her purpose and sense of fulfillment in life. I don’t feel sorry for these characters, but I see myself in a lot of their vices and paranoia’s. It’s not fun, and it’s not my favorite book on the classics list by a long shot, but I understand its importance. At the end of the day, its a pretty damn good book.