Books Literary Sketches

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

February 14, 2006

rosy

He paused only to get his breath.

“And that is why I have sworn not to put pen to paper until my ideas either clarify or depart entirely; I have quite enough sins on my soul without putting dangerous, shallow epigrams into people’s heads; I might cause a poor, inoffensive capitalist to have a vulgar liaison with a bomb, or get some innocent little Bolshevik tangled up with a machine-gun bullet——”

Tom was growing restless under this lampooning of his connection with The New Democracy.

“What’s all this got to do with your being bored?”

Amory considered that it had much to do with it.

“How’ll I fit in?” he demanded. “What am I for? To propagate the race? According to the American novels we are led to believe that the ‘healthy American boy’ from nineteen to twenty-five is an entirely sexless animal. As a matter of fact, the healthier he is the less that’s true. The only alternative to letting it get you is some violent interest. Well, the war is over; I believe too much in the responsibilities of authorship to write just now; and business, well, business speaks for itself. It has no connection with anything in the world that I’ve ever been interested in, except a slim, utilitarian connection with economics. What I’d see of it, lost in a clerkship, for the next and best ten years of my life would have the intellectual content of an industrial movie.”

“Try fiction,” suggested Tom.

“Trouble is I get distracted when I start to write stories—get afraid I’m doing it instead of living—get thinking maybe life is waiting for me in the Japanese gardens at the Ritz or at Atlantic City or on the lower East Side.

“Anyway,” he continued, “I haven’t the vital urge. I wanted to be a regular human being but the girl couldn’t see it that way.”

“You’ll find another.”

God! Banish the thought. Why don’t you tell me that ‘if the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you’? No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody. If I thought there’d be another I’d lose my remaining faith in human nature. Maybe I’ll play—but Rosalind was the only girl in the wide world that could have held me.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise (Full text)

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