‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ by Francis Scott Fitzgerald

While doing an internship in a particularly boring and repetitive office, I found a paper in the copy machine: it was a piece of writing by Woody Allen, where he stated his decision to live the next life backwards, coming to life as a wrinkled 80-year-old person, aching in arthritis, to end up young enough to enjoy retirement.

A perfect deal, as you might see.

[If you’d like to read it, here’s the link]

The basic idea is not at all new, though. Francis Scott Fitzgerald wrote about Benjamin Button almost a century ago, inspired by a Mark Twain’s comment (“It is a pity that the best part of life comes at the beginning, and the worst part at the end.”).

When Benjamin comes to life, he appears as a 70-year-old man. Nobody is exactly happy about it.

The hospital kicks him out before someone could spot him and his father stubbornly refuses to admit the obvious oddity and keeps on insisting for him to play with toddler games, even if Benjamin definitely prefers talking with grandpa and smoking his cigars.

By the time he’s 12, though, some changes start to appear: his hair slowly regain some color, his bones don’t hurt so much anymore and he can actually stand with his back upright.

He’s getting younger every day. By the time he becomes 18, he can easily be taken for his father’s brother.

He meets his wife Hildegarde and gets control of his father’s hardware company – since his father is normally getting old, unlike him.

However, getting younger and younger is not always an advantage for Benjamin.

The life that made him happy at 18 is not the life suitable for him at 30: he can’t find any more pleasure in a wife who attracts him no more and he gets positively bored living the lifestyle of middle-aged couples.

He joins the army and comes back from the war in Spain carrying hero’s medals, but when he attends Harvard as a 20-looking man, he realizes the tasks become too hard to carry out every day and learning the subjects just too difficult for him.

Regressing to toddler status, however, swipes all these thoughts away. Well, it swipes all thoughts entirely.

Looks like Woody Allen and Francis Scott Fitzgerald don’t share the same optimistic view about reversed aging. Nonetheless, it’s good fun (Francis called his story the funniest ever written).

However, even if both views are quite unreal, they do get a point: age is none but a number, regardless of the direction you live it through.

So, be 15 and chat with old people, or be 60 and play with your toddler granddaughter. You’ll be getting it right either way.

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If you want to know more about this book: Goodreads

If you want to buy this book: Amazon

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