The Beautiful And Damned

There was one question that kept coming back to me during The Beautiful And Damned: how much can you enjoy a book where characters you like are subjected to a prolonged though well-deserved fall from grace? Or a book in which principle characters spend most of the story feeling interminably bored and doing nothing about it? The answer, as it turns out, is “a lot more than you’d expect”. I think the main reason for this is that F Scott Fitzgerald is a brilliant writer of two things: prose, and deteriorating relationships.Read More »

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Tender Is The Night

One of the things I hated about English in high school was when teachers would attempt to explore the deeper themes of a text which was all surface and no substance. Trying to “uncover the author’s intentions” would turn into an exercise in wild speculation which would invariably have nothing to do with the author’s intentions or ideas, and would therefore be incredibly frustrating to study – like a game of Hypothetical Eye-Spy, except with more chance of being shot down by the teacher if you offered up an idea that was too tangential to their lesson plan.

The Great Gatsby was different. At 16 (the first year of A Level) I was finally studying a text that felt, for the first time, like even the deepest discussions only scratched the surface of the author’s intentions. Read More »