This Side of Paradise quotes

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The following quotes are from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise (1920). Page numbers correspond to the 1996 Penguin Books edition.

“Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory, and when faces of the throng turned toward him and ambiguous eyes stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of expressions and walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalt of fourteen.” – Page 16

“It was the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.” – Page 16

“He was a slave to his own moods and he felt that though he was capable of recklessness and audacity, he possessed neither courage, perseverance, nor self-respect.” – Page 17

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” – Page 23

“With a dread of being alone he attached a few friends, but since they were not among the elite of the school, he used them simply as mirrors of himself, audiences before which he might do that posing absolutely essential to him. He was unbearably lonely, desperately unhappy.” – Page 25

“Years afterward, when he went back to St. Regis’, he seemed to have forgotten the successes of sixth-form year, and to be able to picture himself only as the unadjustable boy who had hurried down corridors, jeered at by his rabid contemporaries mad with common sense.” – Page 33

“From the first he loved Princeton–its lazy beauty, its half-grasped significance, the wild moonlight revel of the rushes, the handsome, prosperous big-game crowds, and under it all the air of struggle that pervaded his class.” – Page 39

“Oh, it isn’t that I mind the glittering caste system,” admitted Amory. “I like having a bunch of hot cats on top, but gosh, Kerry, I’ve got to be one of them.” – Page 42

“Where now he realized only his own inconsequence, effort would make him aware of his own impotency and insufficiency.” – Page 50

“Amory found it rather fascinating to feel that any popular girl he met before eight he might quite possibly kiss before twelve.” – Page 55

“He asked her if she thought he was conceited. She said there was a difference between conceit and self-confidence. She adored self-confidence in men.” – Page 62

“Silences were becoming more frequent and more delicious.” – Page 63

“In her eyes were the light of the idealist, the inviolate dreamer of Joan-like dreams.” – Page 65

“Long afterward Amory thought of sophomore spring as the happiest time of his life. His ideas were in tune with life as he found it; he wanted no more than to drift and dream and enjoy a dozen new-found friendships through the April afternoons.” – Page 67

“Amory usually liked men individually, yet feared them in crowds unless the crowd was around him.” – Page 71

“It’s just that I feel so sad these wonderful nights. I sort of feel they’re never coming again, and I’m not really getting all I could out of them.” – Page 75

“Yes,” he agreed, “you’re right. I wouldn’t have liked it. Still, it’s hard to be made a cynic at twenty.”

“I was born one,” Amory murmured. “I’m a cynical idealist.” He paused and wondered if that meant anything. – Page 77

“Isabelle and Amory looked at each other tenderly over the fried chicken and knew that their love was to be eternal.” – Page 81

“Amory rushed up-stairs to change into a dinner coat. As he put in his studs he realized that he was enjoying life as he would probably never enjoy it again. Everything was hollowed by the haze of his own youth. He had arrived, abreast of the best in his generation at Princeton. He was in love and his love was returned. Turning on all the lights, he looked at himself in the mirror, trying to find in his own face the qualities that made him see clearer than the great crowd of people, that made him decide firmly, and able to influence and follow his own will. There was little in his life now that he would have changed…” – Page 82

“He lay awake in the darkness and wondered how much he cared – how much of his sudden unhappiness was hurt vanity – whether he was, after all, temperamentally unfitted for romance.” – Page 86

“He took a sombre satisfaction in thinking that perhaps all along she had been nothing except what he had read into her; that this was her high point, that no one else would ever make her think. Yet that was what she had objected to in him; and Amory was suddenly tired of thinking, thinking!” – Page 87

“The fundamental Amory, idle, imaginative, rebellious, had been nearly snowed under. He had conformed, he had succeeded, but as his imagination was neither satisfied nor grasped by his own success, he had listlessly, half-accidentally chucked the whole thing.” – Page 91

“I’m in a muddle about a lot of things–I’ve just discovered that I’ve a mind, and I’m starting to read.” – Page 113

“You’re a slave, a bound helpless slave to one thing in the world, your imagination.” – Page 130

“…what we leave here is more than this class; it’s the whole heritage of youth. We’re just one generation–we’re breaking all the links that seemed to bind us here to top-booted and high-stocked generations. We walked arm and arm with Burr and Light-Horse Harry Lee through half these deep-blue nights.” – Page 140

“… If you don’t use heaven as a continual referendum for your ideas you’ll find earth a continual recall to your ambitions.” – Page 145

“Sometimes I wish I’d been an Englishman; American life is so damned dumb and stupid and healthy.” – Page 149

“There is no more dangerous gift to posterity than a few cleverly turned platitudes.” – Page 149

“Men don’t know how to be really angry or really happy–and the ones that do, go to pieces.” – Page 158

“… a sentimental person thinks things will last – a romantic person hope against hope that they won’t.” – Page 162

“… He wanted people to like his mind again–after a while it might be such a nice place in which to live.” – Page 194

“There seemed suddenly to be much left in life, if only this revival of old interests did not mean that he was backing away from it again–backing away from life itself.” – Page 194

“Any rich, unprogressive old party with that particularly grasping, acquisitive form of mentality known as financial genius can own a paper that is the intellectual meat and drink of thousands of tired, hurried men, men too involved in the business of modern living to swallow anything but predigested food. For two cents the voter buys his politics, prejudices, and philosophy.” – Page 197

“Every author ought to write every book as if he were going to be beheaded the day he finished it.” – Page 199

“Beware of losing yourself in the personality of another being, man or woman.” – Page 202

“Was it the infinite sadness of her eyes that drew him or the mirror of himself that he found in the gorgeous clarity of her mind?” – Page 204

“We can’t possibly have a summer love. So many people have tried that the name’s become proverbial.” – Page 212

“Their chance was to make everything fine and finished and rich and imaginative; they must bend tiny golden tentacles from his imagination to hers, that would take the place of the great, deep love that was never so near, yet never so much of a dream.” – Page 212-13

“Let the days move over–-sadness and memory and pain recurred outside, and here, once more, before he went on to meet them he wanted to drift and be young.” – Pg. 214

“There poses were strewn about the pale dawn like broken glass. The stars were long gone and there were left only the little sighing gusts of wind and the silences between…but naked souls are poor things ever, and soon he turned homeward and let new lights come in with the sun.” – Page 221

“Things that had been the merest commonplaces of his life then, deep sleep, the sense of beauty around him, all desire, had flown away and the gaps they left were filled only with the great listlessness of his dissolution.” – Page 226

“Sacrifice by its very nature was arrogant and impersonal; sacrifice should be eternally supercilious.” – Page 228

“Poverty may have been beautiful once, but it’s rotten now. It’s the ugliest thing in the world. It’s essentially cleaner to be corrupt and rich than it is to be innocent and poor.” – Page 236

“Just as a cooling pot gives off heat, so all through youth and adolescence we give off calories of virtue. That’s what’s called ingenuousness.” – Page 237

“Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don’t. They just want the fun of eating it all over again.” – Page 238

“I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.” – Page 238

“Yes – I was perhaps an egotist in youth, but I soon found it made me morbid to think too much about myself.” – Page 241

“Amory had grown up to a thousand books, a thousand lies; he had listened eagerly to people who pretended to know, who knew nothing.” – Page 242

“Man in his hunger for faith will feed his mind with the nearest and most convenient food.” Page 242

“It is not life that’s complicated, it’s the struggle to guide and control life.” – Page 251

“In spite of going to college I’ve managed to pick up a good education.” – Page 255

“He felt that he was leaving behind him his chance of being a certain type of artist. It seemed so much more important to be a certain sort of man.” – Page 258

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