NOTNestled amidst the vast archives and special collections of the Greenwood Library is a rare gem: a first edition of acclaimed American author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Beautiful and Damned, which includes the writer’s signature.
Archival scholar Jamie Krogh described the book’s journey to Longwood: “The Greenwood Library Special Collections Edition of The Beautiful and Damned is a first edition second printing signed by F. Scott Fitzgerald to George Nelson in 1922. Nelson collected books by famous authors, and part of his collection was given to Longwood by his sister, a former student, after his death.
Although somewhat less well known than other Fitzgerald novels such as The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned is significant for several reasons.
First, the novel is semi-autobiographical, charting the chaotic courtship and eventual decline and disengagement between main characters Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert, including parallels to Fitzgerald’s marriage to his wife Zelda.
Second, according to Professor of English and Head of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Longwood University, Dr. David Magill, the novel exemplifies the attitudes of young people at the time: “F. The Beautiful and Damned by Scott Fitzgerald captures 1920s America: young, white, wealthy, hedonistic and delusional. Fitzgerald draws on his marriage to Zelda Sayre to present the reader with a deep dive into protagonists Anthony and Gloria Patch, representatives of a decadent and doomed era.
Finally, the book highlights movies, music, and popular culture from the era, including topical tunes such as “He’s a Rag Picker” and “Everything’s At Home Except Your Wife.”
According to Longwood music teacher and director of jazz ensembles Charlie Kinzer, “Fitzgerald’s seemingly innocuous references to certain songs from the Tin Pan Alley era not only help him portray Manhattan’s high society milieu during and after World War I, but in several examples offer the reader a better understanding of the motivations, psyche, and fates of its characters.
An event sponsored by the Greenwood Library will celebrate the legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald and offer attendees the opportunity to step back into the world of the 1920s, filled with clappers and felt hats.
“The Roaring of the Twenties: Celebrating 100 Years of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned” will take place on Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in Molnar Auditorium at Wygal Hall on the campus of Longwood University.
The program will include an exhibition of the Greenwood Library’s copy of The Beautiful and Damned with an overview of the book’s publication and provenance by archival scholar Jamie Krogh, followed by an academic discussion of the novel’s significance with Dr. David Magill and Elizabeth Hall Magill. The program will also include several early 20th century musical numbers by Charlie Kinzer and his colleagues from the Longwood Music Department and a book reading from Waterworks Players.
Costumes are encouraged. A reception will follow in Wygal Hall Haga.
For more information, contact Greenwood Library Marketing and Outreach Librarian Vicki Lea at (434) 395-2442 or [email protected]