F. Scott Fitzgerald's stories about Basil Duke Lee have become source material for biographers, who have built up a solid picture of communal life in the Midwest and of educational life in the prep schools of the East. The stories have a good deal more to say about ideas that affected youth culture before the Great War. Basil is put into a number of culturally dramatic situations: how to adjust to the new realities of the twentieth century, which meant recognizing the enormous role now played by institutions. He has to think about things like the “power” that is to be gained on campus, power that has not much to do with intellectual ability. And he has to come to grips with the ways in which such power is obtained. The Basil stories show a series of decisions. They show social life during the 1910s as a matter of activities and events—and also as a system of rules to be profitably obeyed or ruinously disregarded.

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