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The Basil and Josephine Stories
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2000
Originally published serially in "The Saturday Evening Post," Fitzgerald's "The Basil and Josephine Stories" was probably underappreciated in its time--the late 1920s. Fitzgerald's mastery of prose and storytelling shine, however, in this collection of short stories. The book is divided into two halves, the first dealing with Basil (a fictionalized version of Fitzgerald as a young man) and the second with Josephine (a fictional young woman in America in the early part of the 20th century). We follow Basil through the adventures and misadventures of his early life as he searches for acceptance and meaning. Josephine searches for love and friendship, among other things. Both meet with success that can only be described as questionable. Beautifully written and suprisingly deep, this collection offers profound insight into the psyche of the Lost Generation. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in modern American literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 1997
Pure genius! Only Gatsby is better. Basil and Josephine are lyrical, magical; everything good that can be said about writing can be said about this book. It's great. Genius.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2000
I really liked this book. And this isn't coming from some super-articulate adult. This is coming from a 14-year-old High School Freshman. It really shows you what life was like back then in the early 1910's, and how teens back then deal with the same stuff as we do, such as popularity, dating, cars, etc.
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on April 20, 2011
The name F. Scott Fitzgerald is no stranger to this space as the master writer of one of the great American novels of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby. And as one of the key players (many of them spending time in self-imposed European exile) in American literature in the so-called Jazz Age in the aftermath of World War I. For this writer he formed, along with Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and a little, Dorothy Parker and Gertrude Stein the foundation for modern American writing. But that recognition was a later development, far later, because I knew of Fitzgerald's work long before I had read any of his (or the others, for that matter) better known works. I knew the Basil and Josephine stories well before that.

As a kid in the 1950s the library that I spent many an hour in was divided, as they are in most libraries even today, into children's and adult's sections. At that time there was something of a Chinese Wall between the two sections in the form of a stern old librarian who made sure that kids, sneaky kids like me didn't go into that forbidden adult section until the proper time (after sixth grade as I recall). The Basil and Josephine stories were, fortunately, in the kid's section (although I have seen them in adult sections of libraries as well). And while the literary merits of the stories are adult worthy of mention for the clarity of Fitzgerald's language, the thoughtful plots (mainly, although a couple are kind of similar reflecting the mass magazine adult audience they were addressed to), and the evocative style (of that "age of innocence" just before World War I after which the world changed dramatically. No more innocent when you dream notions, not after the mustard gas and the trench warfare) for me on that long ago first reading what intrigued me was the idea of how the other half-the rich (well less than half, much less as it turns out) lived.

This was fascinating for a poor boy, a poor "projects" boy like me, who was clueless about half the stuff Basil got to do (riding trains, going to boarding school, checking out colleges, playing some football, and seriously, very seriously checking out the girls at exotic-sounding dances, definitely not our 1950s school sock hops). And I was clueless, almost totally clueless, about what haughty, serenely beautiful, guy-crazy Josephine was up to. So this little set of short stories was something like my introduction to class, the upper class, in literature.

Of course when I talk about the 1950s in the old projects, especially the later part when I used to hang around with one Billie, William James Bradley, self-proclaimed king of the be-bop night at our old elementary school (well, not exactly self-proclaimed, I helped the legend along a little) I have to give Billie's take on the matter. His first reaction was why I was reading this stuff, this stuff that was not required school reading stuff anyway. Then when I kept going on and on about the stories, and trying to get him to read them, he exploded one day and shouted out "how is reading those stories going to get you or me out of these damn projects?"

Good point now that I think about it but I would not let it go at that. I started in on a little tidbit about how one of the stories was rejected by the magazine publishers because they thought the subject of ten or eleven year olds being into "petting parties" was crazy. That got Billie attention as he wailed about how those guys obviously had never been to the projects where everyone learned (or half-learned) about sex sometimes even earlier than that, innocent as it might have been. He said he might actually read the stuff now that he saw that rich kids, anyway, were up against the same stuff we were. He never did. But the themes of teen alienation, teen angst, teen vanity, teen love are all there. And while the rich are different from you and I, and life, including young life, plays out differently for them those themes seem embedded in youth culture ever since teenage-dom because a separate social category. Read on.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2000
this charming collection of stories written by f. scott fitzgerald follows the physical, emotional, and social growth of two characters at the turn of the century. Basil, the typical rebellious child, struggles to find some understanding of life, school, friendship, and, most importantly, women. fitzgerald details a number of episodes in basil's life starting with his childhood and following him through his entrance into school. i don't know if basil ever entirely grew up or learned as much as he desired, but he came as close as any man can. the josephine stories follow roughly the same time span, but tend to focus more on her relationships and her place in society as a young woman at the turn of the century. all of the stories are masterfully told and it is obvious why fitzgerald became such a well known and respected writer. his storytelling is unparalleled and his descriptive language and imagery transports the reader to a different place and time. i highly recommend this book to any fitzgerald fan, whether an experienced one or a not-so-experienced one. i think it a shame that this book does not get more recognition than it does, recognition that it most definitely deserves.
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on January 20, 2015
Basil is full of ambitions-mostly about girls. But in everything he does, his social ineptitude and his marvellous opinion of himself gets in the way. Josephine , a Chicago socialite ,breaks every heart she meets, but ends up with an empty and lonely one of her own...
Two sets of intertwined stories that F Scott wrote at the height of his powers-something that shines through clearly. So good are these tales that it seems you are reading a lost F Scott novel (of the 'Adventures of' type) Set in the 1910's and said to be semi autobiographical of F Scott himself and Zelda, it portrays the hedonism latent in American youth that led to the Jazz Age. A Brilliant F Scott book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 1998
I found the Basil stories to be much better written than the Josephine stories. Basil's stories are fun and full of irony and satire. The reader sees definite growth in Basil. The Basil stories are excellent and worthy of great praise. As for Josephine's stories, I often found myself loosing interest in the stories. They tended to be bland, and I found it much more difficult to connect with Josephine than with Basil. The four star rating is largely based on the Basil stories, which account for about 2/3 of the book, and for the one Josephine story I really liked.
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on April 14, 2014
Especially if you're a Twin Citian, the references here to familiar things like Ye Olde Mill at the state fair is charming. Some of his best writing after Gatsby.
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