Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Coming only two years after Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), The Beautiful and Damned was a much more literary and thought-out book. Yet although it was in most respects a superior and more controlled performance, it was far short of the advance in craftsmanship and in maturity of perception that Fitzgerald would demonstrate only three years later in The Great Gatsby (1925). Although The Beautiful and Damned was not as popular with the readers or with the critics as was Fitzgerald’s first novel, the novelty of its subject matter helped its sales and consolidated his position as the spokesman of the Jazz Age.