The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

If you’re into books based on literature like myself, then you’ve probably already seen Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Ok, I’m headed to see it today, but my question to you is . . . did you read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story? Me neither, but I will when I return. Before I get you started with the text, maybe you should know a bit about the film changes and Taraji Henson’s views on her role:

. . . And now The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a lesser story from an era when [Fitzgerald] was cranking out magazine pieces for money while focusing his greater talents on his novels, is getting the full superstar treatment, and looks to be the first Fitzgerald adaptation to have a shot at being nominated for Best Picture. But to become a prestige project, it had to abandon most of the original story.

There are a host of changes, from meddling and minor (Button’s wife Hildegarde is now named Daisy, Baltimore is now New Orleans) to substantial. In Fitzgerald’s story, Hildegard, whom he doted on as a young beauty but finds tiresome in her old age, moves to Italy while he’s at Harvard. That’s it — not another line is spent on her, and the rest of the story focuses on Benjamin’s strained relationship with his son, as he becomes an adolescent and then a child. In the film, Daisy and Benjamin’s romance stretches from childhood into old age (or the other way around), and Benjamin leaves Daisy for the sake of their daughter Caroline. Deathbed reunion and weepy postcards to his daughter — all added. Fitzgerald’s slight tale of magical realism is not a love story; the film is nothing but. (Read full article at Film.com)

And what about the short story? You can read it free online, so begin with this:

As long ago as 1860 it was the proper thing to be born at home. At present, so I am told, the high gods of medicine have decreed that the first cries of the young shall be uttered upon the anaesthetic air of a hospital, preferably a fashionable one. So young Mr. and Mrs. Roger Button were fifty years ahead of style when they decided, one day in the summer of 1860, that their first baby should be born in a hospital. Whether this anachronism had any bearing upon the astonishing history I am about to set down will never be known.

I shall tell you what occurred, and let you judge for yourself.

The Roger Buttons held an enviable position, both social and financial, in Antebellum Baltimore. They were related to the This
Family and the That Family, which, as every Southerner knew, entitled them to membership in that enormous peerage which largely populated the Confederacy. This was their first experience with the charming old custom of having babies–Mr. Button was naturally nervous. He hoped it would be a boy so that he could be sent to Yale College in Connecticut, at which institution Mr. Button himself had been known for four years by the somewhat obvious nickname of “Cuff.”

On the September morning consecrated to the enormous event he arose nervously at six o’clock dressed himself, adjusted an impeccable stock, and hurried forth through the streets of Baltimore to the hospital, to determine whether the darkness of the night had borne in new life upon its bosom.

When he was approximately a hundred yards from the Maryland Private Hospital for Ladies and Gentlemen he saw Doctor Keene, the family physician, descending the front steps, rubbing his hands together with a washing movement–as all doctors are required to do by the unwritten ethics of their profession.

Mr. Roger Button, the president of Roger Button & Co., Wholesale Hardware, began to run toward Doctor Keene with much less dignity than was expected from a Southern gentleman of that picturesque period.

“Doctor Keene!” he called. “Oh, Doctor Keene!”

The doctor heard him, faced around, and stood waiting, a curious expression settling on his harsh, medicinal face as Mr. Button drew near.

“What happened?” demanded Mr. Button, as he came up in a gasping rush. “What was it? How is she” A boy? Who is it? What—“

“Talk sense!” said Doctor Keene sharply, He appeared somewhat
irritated.

“Is the child born?” begged Mr. Button.

Doctor Keene frowned. “Why, yes, I suppose so–after a fashion.” Again
he threw a curious glance at Mr. Button.

“Is my wife all right?”

“Yes.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

(Don’t stop here! Read more . . . )

Happy reading, y’all.

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