F. Scott Fitzgerald's second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, marks an advance over This Side of Paradise, Edmund Wilson wrote. The style is more nearly mature and the subject more nearly unified, and there are scenes that are more convincing than any in his previous fiction.
Published in 1922, it chronicles the relationship of Anthony Patch, Harvard-educated aspiring aesthete, and his beautiful wife, Gloria, as they wait to inherit his grandfather's fortune. A devastating satire of the nouveaux rich and New York's nightlife, of reckless ambition and squandered talent, it is also a shattering portrait of a marriage fueled by alcohol and wasted by wealth. The Beautiful and Damned, Fitzgerald wrote to Zelda in 1930, was all true.
Lyrical, romantic, yet cruelly incisive, it signaled a new stage in Fitzgerald's career. With The Beautiful and Damned, H.L. Mencken commented in The Smart Set, Fitzgerald ceases to be a wunderkind, and begins to come into his maturity.