Review 1480: This Side of Paradise

I have a high opinion of The Great Gatsby, but I haven’t read any other Fitzgerald that I can remember. So, when I was making up my current Classics Club list, I put This Side of Paradise on it.

It isn’t a good choice for me, though. I have so far disliked almost every book about privileged males’ schooldays, especially when the boys think they are sophisticated (the exception being the beginning of Brideshead Revisited). The nostalgic tone they frequently take about boys behaving badly is especially grating. I don’t think This Side of Paradise is supposed to be nostalgic, but it is definitely smug.

The main character, Amory Blaine, is described as an egoist. He spends most of his time putting people into snobby little categories and working the system to be successful in school. Successful, of course, means socially, not intellectually.

It’s not too much of a stretch to think that Amory is Fitzgerald himself, only richer and with a childhood spent in Europe.

I would like to think that Amory evolves in the book, but my understanding is he doesn’t, much. I stuck it out for nearly half the book but didn’t find anything in it to interest me, so I stopped.

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8 thoughts on “Review 1480: This Side of Paradise

  1. Jane March 5, 2020 / 2:27 pm

    oh dear, this is on my classics list as well!

    • whatmeread March 5, 2020 / 3:02 pm

      You might like it more than I did. I think I actually meant to put Tender Is the Night on it instead. You can always change your list, you know.

      • Jane April 5, 2020 / 10:45 am

        I keep telling myself that, I would change so many titles – what was I thinking when I put my list together? Now it just seems a slog!

      • whatmeread April 5, 2020 / 3:53 pm

        You can change your list, you know. I have changed out a few books because I couldn’t readily find the ones on my list, but I could find others by the same author.

  2. Helen March 5, 2020 / 2:30 pm

    I didn’t really enjoy either The Great Gatsby or Tender is the Night, so I’m not planning to read any of Fitzgerald’s other books. Sorry you didn’t like this one.

    • whatmeread March 5, 2020 / 3:03 pm

      He has a unique outlook. He was so insecure, he’s kind of hard to like. Still, I think Gatsby is a classic.

  3. Cynthia C March 9, 2020 / 11:57 am

    Novels about a set of privileged male characters aren’t too fashionable these days. I think The Great Gatsby still works because it makes a critical statement about that kind of life, but many of the characters from lesser books seem overwhelmingly self-absorbed.

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