The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Synopsis

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's most memorable short stories. The protagonist, Benjamin Button, is born an old man and ages in reverse until he becomes a baby and then finally vanishes from the earth. In a short introduction to the story, Fitzgerald wrote: "This story was inspired by a remark of Mark Twain's to the effect that it was a pity that the best part of life came at the beginning and the worst part at the end. By trying the experiment upon only one man in a perfectly normal world I have scarcely given his idea a fair trial. Several weeks after completing it, I discovered an almost identical plot in Samuel Butler's 'Note-books.'" The title story was the inspiration for the MAJOR MOTION PICTURE of the same name and remains one of Fitzgerald's most haunting and beautiful tales.

Fitzgerald's talent for short fiction is on display in this selection of four of his finest tales, chosen from two collections: Flappers and Philosophers (1920) and Tales of the Jazz Age (1922). In addition to the title story are "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," a coming-of-age story about a daring young flapper; "The Jelly-Bean," a story of disillusionment and love lost; and "Dalyrimple Goes Wrong," a case of a character torn between self and society.
 

About F. Scott Fitzgerald

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F(rancis) Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896. He was educated at Princeton University and served in the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1919, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. In 1920 Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre, a young woman of the upper class, and they had a daughter, Frances. Fitzgerald is regarded as one of the finest American writers of the 20th Century. His most notable work was the novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). The novel focused on the themes of the Roaring Twenties and of the loss of innocence and ethics among the nouveau riche. He also made many contributions to American literature in the form of short stories, plays, poetry, music, and letters. Ernest Hemingway, who was greatly influenced by Fitzgerald's short stories, wrote that Fitzgerald's talent was "as fine as the dust on a butterfly's wing." Yet during his lifetime Fitzgerald never had a best-selling novel and, toward the end of his life, he worked sporadically as a screenwriter at motion picture studios in Los Angeles. There he contributed to scripts for such popular films as Winter Carnival and Gone with the Wind. Fitzgerald's work is inseparable from the Roaring 20s. Berenice Bobs Her Hair and A Diamond As Big As The Ritz, are two short stories included in his collections, Tales of the Jazz Age and Flappers and Philosophers. His first novel The Beautiful and Damned was flawed but set up Fitzgerald's major themes of the fleeting nature of youthfulness and innocence, unattainable love, and middle-class aspiration for wealth and respectability, derived from his own courtship of Zelda. This Side of Paradise (1920) was Fitzgerald's first unqualified success. Tender Is the Night, a mature look at the excesses of the exuberant 20s, was published in 1934. Much of Fitzgerald's work has been adapted for film, including Tender is the Night , The Great Gatsby, and Babylon Revisited which was adapted as The Last Time I Saw Paris by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1954. The Last Tycoon, adapted by Paramount in 1976, was a work in progress when Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, California. Fitzgerald is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland. James L. W. West III is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.
 
Published December 29, 2009 by Coyote Canyon Press. 95 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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