This Side of Paradise is a triumph of decadence unveiled.
This is perhaps one of the best stories for a twenty-something year old to read during the recession, especially if they have had to set aside their dreams and currently search for something less than extraordinary in order to survive. It is amazing how relevant it is even so long after the emergence of the Jazz Age. Where the book was focused on the clash between old Victorian ideals and the emerging youth liberalization after the first World War, today we find ourselves just as lost. These wars that we’ve been fighting and this recession that we are suffering through will redefine our nation just as it was redefined after the conflict of WWI. The question is how?
Amory is caught in the very center of this clash between Victorian conservatism and youth liberalization. It is up to him and the other young men and women of the times to either create the new new, or stick with the old. I see the character of Amory Blaine in the face of all my college friends who had dreams of what their lives would be like after graduation, only to have those dreams dashed upon the rocks of this recession. Let us all pray that in the end we don’t end up like Fitzgerald, who modeled his character Amory after himself. Let us hope that we don’t follow in the path of Amory and are able to regain our aspirations when things improve, otherwise we might drown our hopelessness in bottles of alcohol until it kills us just like the famed U.S. author that wrote this book.