How Does This Side of Paradise Play an Ironic Role in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Fate?
Writing, famously, both exorcises demons and brings them into the light. This Side of Paradise is not only a blueprint of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life-long themes, but also a sort of emblematic mirror to his life. Some have considered it to capture “the rhythm and feel of the gaudy decade that was to follow in America” (West), so that by writing his first novel, Fitzgerald not only seemed to be prophesizing on his life’s joys and failures, but also setting up the world they were to be lived on.
A critical and sales success from the beginning (the first edition got sold in three days), it gave the twenty-three year old fame he had hardly had time to dream of, and, especially, the means to wed Zelda, the love of his life. It follows protagonist Amory Blaine in his search to fulfill the potential he feels he has, privileged son of a wealthy family, both in the world’s stage and his personal life.
It was received as a “revelation of the new morality of the young in the early Jazz Age” (Britannica.com) and exuding the “glorious spirit of abounding youth” (nytimes.com).
Fitzgerald, who was never to know old age, lived his whole life skipping from highs to lows, using the alcoholism that would eventually kill him as a coping measure, watching schizophrenic Zelda, the reason behind his search for fortune, disintegrate and disappear from his life. His thirst for living on his terms and his struggle to live up to his potential put him on a road that, just like that of his protagonists, got too out of control too soon.
The last words of Amory Blaine sum it up: “I know myself, but that is all” (Fitzgerald). Clearly his own oracle, Fitzgerald was never able to profit from his insight in human nature and passions. Just like the Greeks of old, he had his fate written in stone, and what is more ironic, by his own hand.
Fitzgerald, Francis Scott., and James L. W. West, III. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University, 2012. Print.
Britannica.com, “This Side of Paradise”. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 July 2016.
NYTimes.com, ‘With College Men”. N.p., 1920. Web. 28 July 2016.