At the outset of what he called “the greatest, the gaudiest spree in history,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the works that brought him instant fame, mastering the glittering aphoristic prose and keen social observation that would distinguish all his writing. This Library of America volume brings together four volumes that collectively offer the fullest literary expression of one of the most fascinating eras in American life.
This Side of Paradise (1920) gave Fitzgerald the early success that defined and haunted him for the rest of his career. Offering in its Princeton chapters the most enduring portrait of college life in American literature, this lyrical novel records the ardent and often confused longings of its hero’s struggles to find love and to formulate a philosophy of life.
Flappers and Philosophers (1920), a collection of accomplished short stories, includes such classics as “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong,” “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” and “The Ice Palace.”
Fitzgerald continues his dissection of a self-destructive era in his second novel,The Beautiful and Damned(1922), as the self-styled aristocrat Anthony Patch and his beautiful wife, Gloria, are cut off from an inheritance and forced to endure the excruciating dwindling of their fortune. Here New York City, playground for the pleasure-loving Patches and brutal mirror of their dissipation, is portrayed more vividly than anywhere else in Fitzgerald’s work.
Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), his second collection of stories, includes the novella “May Day,” featuring interlocking tales of debutantes, soldiers, and socialists brought together in the uncertain aftermath of World War I, and “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” a fable in which the excesses of the Jazz Age take the hallucinatory form of a palace of unfathomable opulence hidden deep in the Montana Rockies.