The Beautiful and Damned

I choose this famous caption from Francis Scott Fitzgerald to head a post on woe and mourning -and frustration; and bitterness- because it qualifies very well the person I’ve lost.

In fact, Scott Fitzgerald was not always a pessimist as so many of his writings about failure show; and, just today, I’ve come across this quotation from him (of which I ignore the precise provenance) :

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.”

All right. My sister did it several times and always succeeded, and could feel truly proud of herself…, until some bad blow of fortune or even calamity fell upon her, pushing her backwards to be again, somehow, someone she didn’t want to be. But she had the strength and the courage to start over again, and again… Eventually, she became a most respected model of fortitude for all who had the good luck to know her. She was a beautiful soul in a beautiful body, ruled by a beautiful mind. Many thought she was blessed and told her so, especially when she kept the most charming smile on earth through thick and thin. Moreover, her demeanour was beautiful too and she never lost the lesser opportunity to help other people as far as she was able to -even during her worst times.

Not long ago, she overcame a severe depression after breaking a relationship, to emerge stronger and fuller of love than ever before; more beautiful than ever, in her late thirties: a true princess! – And just then, she got ill. Badly ill, but this did not prevent her from initiating a new relationship with a loving and lovely person, and fall truly in love, and become engaged; excited for her next marriage and clear prospects of a much deserved brand-new homely life. Of course, she fought her illness bravely. More than anybody else I’ve ever known, by the way. She was going to start over once more… Who could doubt it? – And then, in spite of all efforts and determination to abide, she died all of a sudden, less than a year since she was diagnosed with her lung disease; just two months after getting formally engaged. – She had not time even to say goodbye properly to her loved ones. She just fell in a coma and faded out.

Maybe she was blessed -or not-, maybe she was damned -or not-… But I think now that Scott Fitzgerald saw it clearer when writing about frustration and failure than in his encouraging words now and then -like the few ones above (nice as they sound).

And to me, Shakespeare (among others, but he’s unsurpassable) had it even clearer most of the time. Amazingly and admirably clear in hundreds upon hundreds of lines all about his plays. Some are so brilliant and so sharp and poignant as to drill very deep in our minds and make us fear, very seriously, that they tell the sheer truth:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”

[‘Macbeth’; Act V, Scene V]

” […] Therefore, betake thee

To nothing but despair. A thousand knees

Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,

Upon a barren mountain, and still winter

In storm perpetual, could not move the gods

To look that way thou wert.”

[‘The Winter’s Tale’; Act III, Scene II]

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9 thoughts on “The Beautiful and Damned

  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am very sorry for your situation and I hope that you are fighting; like your sister has done so often, to overcome this difficulty. Linking this to F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the greatest writers of all times, I want to share this quote with you: ‘”There’s only one lesson to be learned form life, anyway,” interrupted Gloria, not in contradiction but in a sort of melancholy agreement.
    “What’s that?” demanded Maury sharply.
    “That there’s no lesson to be learned from life.”.’ How utterly true this is.. Again; thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re dearly welcome, Jehona! It’s me who must thank you for your words; your kindness and encouragement.
      I entirely agree about Scott Fitzgerald as one of the greatest, and I thank you again for bringing here on this post that quotation from “The Beautiful …” It links so well to my humble post, and improves it so much, that I would hug you if you were at my reach — never mind if I don’t know you 🙂 — Well…, a little bit now. And I’m pleased for it, believe me.
      Best wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a hard one, for both of us, for all of us, but certainly not as hard as it was with her, even though she was full of courage, grace and dignity throughout. Fitzgerald’s words well echo her final request, nay, instructions to me, meant for you also no doubt: “If others fail, do it for them”. She did not fail; this world failed her. She was far ahead of her time, much too far ahead of this inhuman ‘civilization’. I am reminded, time and again, never without tears, of a line in Don Mclean’s song “Vincent”:
    “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you”. She left us a living example. We are all more or less slowly or quickly falling towards our exit from the the moment of our entry. It’s not the opinion of others, but our own integrity that counts.
    She handed us her torch; we must carry it on for her. With much love and a big hug, thank you brother. God bless our Ariti !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John!
      I thought I had to warn you before publishing this one, but then I ran out of time and I could not . I wrote all the “Shakespearean part” of it some days ago , in the midst of my deep spleen, and left it aside. But today ( yesterday for me ) I’ve read the quote from S. F. , and completed the writing , more as a meditation or speculative quest than out of the raw pain -even wrath- with which I made the first draft .
      However, now I’m glad I didn’t contact you beforehand, because we would -perhaps- have been deprived of your lovely comment above 🙂
      “This world”, I, a lot of things and persons “failed her” – Yes. Yes. Yes…
      “Woe is me” I read also by W.S. when checking the quotes . It is. As much as love for her is
      A big hug back to you, Bro !

      Like

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