New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920. First edition. Inscribed by the author on the half-title: "For My Dear Friend Chad Davis From his Devotedly F. Scott Fitzgerald." A Very Good copy of the book, lacking the rare dust jacket. Front free end paper torn out, rear inner hinge cracking, text block separating a bit at p. 72-73. Spine gilt in decent shape and legible, cloth with only a bit of wear at the spine ends. First published in a print run of just 3,000 copies, which sold out within three days. Gatsby, by way of comparison, was published in an initial run of 20,000 copies.
Fitzgerald's somewhat autobiographical first novel about a mid-western boy who goes east for his education at Princeton. Cobbled together from several bits and pieces of writing and rushed to print in an attempt by the love-struck 22 year old Fitzgerald to entice Zelda with a life of literary celebrity, the couple wed the week after publication and began life among the cosmopolitan literati traversing Europe after the war. Yet to believe Fitzgerald's assertion that the book was only "a Romance and a Reading List" is to oversimplify its central themes. "When Amory Blaine proclaimed all wars fought, all gods dead, all faiths in man shaken, the generation emerging in 1920 thought it a battle cry, a celebration of license and indulgence, and made This Side of Paradise their bible" (Gross). In this sense, the novel not only launched Fitzgerald's career and allowed for his marriage, it also founded the key tensions that would shape all of his future work -- the push and pull between being a member of the Lost Generation with all its cynicism, and his deep moralism and his "need to impose order on a chaotic world...to struggle with love as both a unifying and divisive force" (Gross). Very Good (Item #2541)