We all love The Great Gatsby, right?! It's practically a rite of passage in the UK if you do an English A-Level. I studied it for a second time whilst I was at university, and out of my 15-person seminar, only 1 person hadn't studied it before, and that was because they were an international student with a very different curriculum.
I loved TGG. It was the simplest book to analyse - I mean, the colour symbolism is good enough to keep you writing for days. I knew that I'd want to read more works from Fitzgerald in the future.
The Beautiful and the Damned strangely reminded me more of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath than TGG. It had the same soul-crushing destruction of the ideal of the American Dream. As you moved through the book, you began to realise just how hollow the protagonists Gloria and Anthony were; not hollow as characters, but hollow as people. They were empty shells of people, filled with airy dreams. As we move throughout the book, piece by piece their dreams start to crumble, and by the end, the pair have nothing inside them anymore.
Anthony Patch is the grandson of an infamous New York philanthropist. As such, he feels it's a bit pointless to work: he's going to inherit a fortune one day, so why bother? Gloria is a beautiful young woman who has the attention of any and every man she could want. Yet, she just toys with them: none really appeal to her until she meets Anthony. His flippant cynicism awakens something in her, and she finally finds herself actually wanting a man.
After their marriage, things get a little rocky. Anthony's once proficient allowance from his grandfather is a lot less useful when stretched between two people. The amount of parties, having two homes and buying new clothes all the time hardly helps either. As he gets more stressed about their financial situation, Anthony beings to drink heavily.
They're having the time of their lives, and the hangovers from partying the night before are worth it for the party itself. That is, until Anthony's grandfather (who advocates prohibition) walks in unexpectedly during one of their drunken flings. He struts out, disgusted by the pair, and dies a few weeks later. They're no longer in his will. Now begins a great legal battle to have Anthony re-instated as legal heir to at least part of the millions the old man had amassed. As the battle goes on, Anthony and Gloria become more and more disillusioned with the lives they lead, and it's not until Anthony trains for the war that they realise how pointless their existence had become
Have you read it? What did you think?