Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Romantic Egotist

So here I was with all these plans to blog every day this month about something to do with Mr. Fitzgerald. But as you can see, I've failed miserably at that. I have been doing research and I have been reading lots and lots in This Side of Paradise. But I guess I've been looking for something more exciting. I mean, everyone knows that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby and he was part of a movement called the "Jazz Age". I wanted to find something more exciting to talk about. And then Thursday, I discovered this:

That's actually Fitzgerald, reading Keats' "Ode to A Nightingale"

And then I started thinking, about Keats (another of my favorites) and Fitzgerald and This Side of Paradise. You see, This Side of Paradise is full of allusions to the romantic poets. Amory Blaine has a poem for almost every occasion in his life. So I went searching, and as it turns out Keats was a major influence on F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing. And then I started thinking more and more about this whole thing. Of course, the title of book one of This Side of Paradise is called "The Romantic Egotist", so this whole underlying theme of romanticism was present in my mind, but I never thought about it that much. And when you get to thinking about it, it really makes sense. Here we read these books about horrible, disgustingly selfish people and somehow, we love them and find something endearing in them. There is nothing redeeming about Daisy Buchanan or Jay Gatsby, and yet we love their story and even pity their end. Amory Blaine is the epitome of narcissism, and yet, I find myself charmed and intrigued while reading about him.

I remember telling my mom when I decided to do my author project on Fitzgerald, "He writes about depravity. The stories are awful. But his language is what makes the books so great." And that's really the truth. If we take away the poetic language, we find something utterly disgusting. But these stories have been romanticized so that even the nastiest, most snobbish human being can seem lovable.
In a wonderful article I found on the New York Times website (you should read the whole thing if you get the chance: it said, "what flowers were to Keats, the leisure of the upper classes was to Fitzgerald -- lush, sensuous and real, a symbol of the ideal that was also a fragile thing, as ephemeral as pleasure." It also says, "It wasn't necessarily fair that the rich had more leisure -- or more flowers -- than other people, but since they did, Fitzgerald wrote about them."

  • Crain, Caleb. "F. Scott Fitzgerald Was Different." The New York Times. 24 Dec. 2000. Web.

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