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The old-fashioned world of Benjamin Button

December 24, 2008 |  2:05 pm

Bb_painting

Carolyn Kellogg jumps into the discussion of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

I'm not pregnant, but my thoughts followed Amy's. How did this full-grown man get born, exactly? And what ever happened to Mother Button? But I recall from grad school that it was awful when we tried to workshop what was left out of a story, so I'm trying to remind myself that if Fitzgerald leaves out Mother Button, that's his choice. He decided she's just not important; maybe he's focusing on father-son relationships for a reason.

As Shaft says, Father Button's hospital experience is very far removed from the present day. What I think is interesting is that it was removed from Fitzgerald's day, too. F. Scott was writing in 1920 or so, but Button is born decades earlier, shortly after the Civil War. I think there may be something there -- in the strangeness of the hospital, in the disappearance of the mother -- that's meant to be almost frighteningly archaic to his own 20th century readers. That, as Shaft says, this kind of mysterious birth was something of a different, un-modern time.

Your thoughts?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: from the 1889 painting by Sidney Star, via freeparking on Flickr

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