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Article: The Beautiful and the Damned: Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Beautiful and the Damned: Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Beautiful and the Damned, published in 1922 by F. Scott Fitzgerald, presents the reader with a fictionalized telling of the perpetually problematic relationship between Zelda and Frances Scott Key Fitzgerald. Following a loose account of the young couple’s courtship during the Great War and throughout their relocation to New York City during the height of the Jazz Age (a term coined by Fitzgerald himself), The Beautiful and the Damned details the flaws in adhering to “the magnificent attitude of not giving a damn”. 


The novel acts as a milestone in the lives of the Fitzgeralds, chronicling the couple’s early years after gaining notoriety and prior to the publicity of The Great Gatsby. It is the second novel published under F. Scott Fitzgerald’s name, crafted using the constructive criticism afforded by his first novel. 

The Beautiful and the Damned centers around the characters of Gloria and Anthony Patch and follows their “wreck on the shoals of dissipation,” or in other words a hedonistic version of mutually assured destruction. The novel follows the story of Anthony Patch’s rise to stardom and the subsequent rush to immorality alongside Gloria’s own selfish pursuits, mirroring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s own unmoored descent into alcoholism in tandem with Zelda’s mental disturbances.  

Pursuing a publicity stunt, Zelda went to the New York Tribune with a sardonic review after its publication claiming that she recognized a few paragraphs from her own diaries. Creating a plagiarism scandal with her review, Zelda stirred up controversies continuously throughout the course of her marriage – not dissimilar to those troublesome stories synthesized in the Beautiful and the Damned

All in all, the Beautiful and the Damned is a fascinating fictional novel with nods to the reality it was based in, representing the height of the Jazz Age and the hedonistic trials and tribulations that came with it. The novel is not only a landmark in the career of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but a glimpse into past high-societies wrapped up with a gorgeously rebound cover.

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