When Charlie Wales returns to Paris, it’s a very different place. Only a few stragglers of the Lost Generation remain. Charlie proclaims he’s a changed man. He’s lived recklessly and lost everything and his wife is dead. Now he has returned to reclaim his nine-year-old daughter from his sister-in-law and her husband, who have been raising her. Once again financially sound, Charlie proclaims to take only one drink a day, a trick he says he uses to keep himself sober.
This is an excellent short story. Fitzgerald describes the reckless days of Americans living in Paris during the Jazz Age, and the regrets Charlie faces when he returns. Despite Charlie’s earnest demeanor, you’re not quite sure about him. When you hear about his earlier years in Paris, including how he locked his wife out of their apartment during a snow storm, it’s hard not to consider this past. And when his drunken, partying friends seek him out, you’re not sure he will resist.
I really love reading about messy situations and flawed characters. This story, like much of Fitzgerald’s fiction, is based on experiences in his own life. He has a great talent for describing these complicated relationships and painful pasts. And, despite a feeling of ruin, there’s somehow hope in Charlie’s future.
Like all short stories by great authors, “Babylon Revisited” is a terrific way to sample and enjoy classic writing. It was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1931.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely viewed as one of the greatest American writers in the 20th century. He is also considered a member of the Lost Generation and wrote much of his fiction during the Roaring Twenties. The Jazz Age is a term he coined and represents the reckless nature of these times. “Babylon Revisited” was adapted into the 1954 movie The Last Time I Saw Paris, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson.
In addition to many short stories, Fitzgerald completed four novels: This Side of Paradise (1920); The Beautiful and the Damned (1922); The Great Gatsby (1925); andTender Is the Night (1934). The Love of The Last Tycoon (1941), an unfinished novel, was published after his death.
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