F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Icon of the Jazz Age

F. Scott Fitzgerald, an iconic figure of the Roaring Twenties, left an indelible mark on American literature with his evocative prose and keen insights into the complexities of the human condition. Born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald became synonymous with the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself to describe the vibrant and tumultuous era that marked the 1920s in America. In this article by Academic Block looks into Fitzgerald’s life was a reflection of the highs and lows of the American Dream, and his literary contributions, including masterpieces like “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender Is the Night,” continue to captivate readers and scholars alike.

Early Life and Education:

Fitzgerald’s upbringing was marked by a blend of privilege and struggle. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, was a failed wicker furniture salesman with a taste for the finer things in life, while his mother, Mary McQuillan, hailed from an Irish-Catholic family with a modest background. Despite financial challenges, Fitzgerald’s parents instilled in him a sense of ambition and the belief that he could achieve greatness.

Fitzgerald attended the Newman School, a Catholic prep school in New Jersey, where he demonstrated early promise as a writer and developed a fascination with the glittering world of wealth and privilege. This fascination would later become a recurring theme in his works, reflecting both admiration and criticism for the excesses of the elite.

Princeton University beckoned for Fitzgerald, where he continued to hone his literary skills and immerse himself in the social milieu of the campus. However, he remained an indifferent student, focusing more on his extracurricular pursuits, particularly his involvement in the Triangle Club, a musical and dramatic society. Fitzgerald’s passion for writing and storytelling began to take precedence over his academic responsibilities.

The Impact of World War I:

The outbreak of World War I had a profound impact on Fitzgerald’s life. Like many of his generation, he felt the pull of duty and enlisted in the U.S. Army. However, the war ended before he could be deployed overseas, altering the trajectory of his life. While stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama, Fitzgerald met Zelda Sayre, a captivating and spirited Southern belle.

Zelda became Fitzgerald’s muse, and their whirlwind romance fueled his creative energy. Their courtship and subsequent marriage in 1920 marked the beginning of a tumultuous relationship that would shape both their lives and influence Fitzgerald’s literary works. The couple embodied the spirit of the Jazz Age, with its hedonistic pursuits, extravagant lifestyles, and societal upheavals.

The Jazz Age and Literary Success:

The term “Jazz Age” encapsulates the cultural and social dynamism that characterized the 1920s in America. Fitzgerald’s writing captured the essence of this era, exploring the contradictions and consequences of newfound wealth, changing social norms, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald’s debut novel, “This Side of Paradise” (1920), catapulted him into the literary spotlight. The novel mirrored the author’s own experiences, chronicling the journey of Amory Blaine from his privileged youth through the disillusionment of adulthood. The success of “This Side of Paradise” established Fitzgerald as a voice of his generation and a chronicler of the societal shifts taking place in post-World War I America.

However, it was with “The Great Gatsby” (1925) that Fitzgerald achieved literary immortality. The novel, set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties, delves into the life of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire with an unrequited love for Daisy Buchanan. Through Gatsby’s story, Fitzgerald examines the elusive nature of the American Dream, the decadence of the upper class, and the fragility of personal aspirations.

“The Great Gatsby” is a timeless exploration of the human condition, capturing the aspirations and disillusionments that define the pursuit of happiness. The novel’s enduring relevance lies in its exploration of themes such as the corrupting influence of wealth, the illusion of social mobility, and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

Personal Struggles and Decline:

Despite his literary success, Fitzgerald faced personal and financial challenges. His extravagant lifestyle, coupled with Zelda’s mental health struggles, strained their marriage. Fitzgerald’s own battles with alcoholism further exacerbated his difficulties.

In an attempt to salvage their relationship and seek a change of scenery, the Fitzgeralds embarked on a journey to Europe, where they experienced the vibrant cultural scene of cities like Paris and the French Riviera. These experiences provided fodder for Fitzgerald’s next novel, “Tender Is the Night” (1934), a semi-autobiographical work exploring the disintegration of a marriage against the backdrop of expatriate life.

“Tender Is the Night” received mixed reviews and did not achieve the same level of success as “The Great Gatsby.” The novel’s lukewarm reception, combined with the economic challenges of the Great Depression, led to a decline in Fitzgerald’s literary reputation and financial stability. He struggled to replicate the success of his earlier works, and his once-prodigious output dwindled.

Legacy and Posthumous Recognition:

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life was tragically cut short when he succumbed to a heart attack on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44. At the time of his death, he was working on a Hollywood screenplay and grappling with the challenges of reinventing himself in a rapidly changing literary landscape.

Despite the challenges he faced in his later years, Fitzgerald’s impact on American literature endured. Posthumously, his works experienced a resurgence in popularity, and scholars began to reevaluate the significance of his contributions to the literary canon. The thematic richness and timeless observations in his novels ensured their enduring relevance and continued cultural impact.

In the years following his death, Fitzgerald’s reputation as a literary giant solidified. “The Great Gatsby,” in particular, became a staple of high school and college curricula, and its themes resonated with subsequent generations. The novel’s exploration of the American Dream, the illusion of success, and the consequences of excess continue to be subjects of scholarly analysis and cultural discourse.

Fitzgerald’s influence extends beyond literature, permeating popular culture through numerous film adaptations, theatrical productions, and references in music and art. The allure of the Jazz Age, as depicted in Fitzgerald’s works, continues to captivate imaginations, inspiring contemporary artists and writers to explore the complexities of wealth, love, and societal expectations.

Final Words

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and literary career embody the ebullience and contradictions of the Jazz Age. From his early days as a Princeton student to the heights of literary success with “The Great Gatsby” and the challenges of his later years, Fitzgerald’s journey reflects the seismic shifts in American society during the first half of the 20th century.

Fitzgerald’s ability to capture the zeitgeist of his era, coupled with his exploration of universal themes, ensures his enduring legacy in the realm of American literature. The Jazz Age may have been a fleeting moment in history, but Fitzgerald’s writings serve as a poignant and timeless reminder of the complexities of the American Dream and the human condition. As readers continue to delve into the pages of his novels, they are transported to a world of glitz and glamour, where the pursuit of happiness is both exhilarating and elusive—a world that remains as relevant today as it was during Fitzgerald’s heyday. What are your thoughts about F. Scott Fitzgerald? Do let us know your views and suggestion so we can improve our upcoming articles. Thanks for reading!

Controversies related to F. Scott Fitzgerald

Extravagant Lifestyle: Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, were known for their extravagant lifestyle during the Roaring Twenties. The couple lived lavishly, spending beyond their means. This high-flying lifestyle contributed to financial difficulties and was a source of public fascination and criticism.

Alcoholism: Fitzgerald struggled with alcoholism, a personal challenge that impacted his health, relationships, and productivity. His battles with alcohol were well-known within literary circles and contributed to the decline of his career in the later years of his life.

Marital Struggles: The tumultuous relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda was widely reported. Their passionate courtship and marriage were marred by conflicts, infidelity, and mutual struggles. Fitzgerald’s writings, particularly in novels like “Tender Is the Night,” often reflected the challenges of their relationship.

Critical Reception of Later Works: While Fitzgerald achieved considerable success with novels like “The Great Gatsby” and “This Side of Paradise,” his later works faced mixed critical reception. “Tender Is the Night” did not attain the same level of acclaim as his earlier novels, leading to a decline in Fitzgerald’s literary reputation during his lifetime.

Struggles in Hollywood: In the later years of his career, Fitzgerald turned to Hollywood for work as a screenwriter. However, adapting to the demands of the film industry proved challenging, and his experiences in Hollywood were marked by frustrations and financial difficulties.

Posthumous Reassessment: After Fitzgerald’s death in 1940, there was a posthumous reassessment of his works. Some critics and scholars argued that he did not receive the recognition he deserved during his lifetime and that the societal and literary landscape of the time may have contributed to the challenges he faced.

Plagiarism Accusations: Fitzgerald faced accusations of plagiarism related to his short story “Winter Dreams.” Some critics argued that the story bore similarities to earlier works by other authors, leading to debates about the boundaries of literary borrowing and inspiration.

Final Years of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hollywood Years: In the late 1930s, Fitzgerald faced financial difficulties, and to support himself and Zelda, he turned to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter. This transition marked a departure from his earlier focus on novel writing. His experiences in Hollywood were characterized by frustrations as he navigated the complexities of the film industry.

Decline in Literary Output: The once-prolific author, celebrated for works such as “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender Is the Night,” experienced a decline in his literary output during this period. The changing literary landscape and his own personal struggles, including alcoholism, contributed to a decrease in productivity.

Zelda’s Institutionalization: Zelda’s mental health continued to deteriorate, leading to her institutionalization. Her struggles added emotional strain to Fitzgerald’s life and influenced his writing. The challenges of balancing his responsibilities as a husband and father with his literary aspirations weighed heavily on him.

Last Completed Novel – “The Last Tycoon”: Fitzgerald was working on a novel titled “The Love of the Last Tycoon” when he died. The novel was published posthumously as “The Last Tycoon.” It is a reflection of his experiences in Hollywood and explores the behind-the-scenes world of the film industry. The novel remains unfinished, as Fitzgerald passed away before completing it.

Relationship with Sheilah Graham: In the final years of his life, Fitzgerald had a relationship with Sheilah Graham, a gossip columnist. She provided emotional support during a challenging period in his life. Fitzgerald’s association with Graham was marked by a mix of companionship and professional collaboration.

Death: F. Scott Fitzgerald passed away on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44, in Hollywood, California. The cause of death was a heart attack. At the time of his death, Fitzgerald’s literary reputation had waned, and he was not as celebrated as he is today. His death went somewhat unnoticed in the midst of World War II.

Posthumous Recognition: The posthumous reassessment of Fitzgerald’s work began in the years following his death. Critics and scholars recognized the enduring quality of his novels, particularly “The Great Gatsby,” and his reputation underwent a revival. Fitzgerald’s insightful exploration of the American Dream and his portrayal of the Jazz Age resonated with subsequent generations of readers.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Personal Details
Date of Birth : 24th September 1896
Died : 21th December 1940
Place of Birth : St. Paul, Minnesota, United States
Father : Edward Fitzgerald
Mother : Mary “Mollie” McQuillan Fitzgerald
Spouse/Partner : Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
Children : Frances Scott Fitzgerald
Alma Mater : Princeton University
Professions : American Novelist and Short Story Writer

Famous quotes by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

“They’re a rotten crowd…You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

“Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course, you can!”

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

“There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.”

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

“I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it, on the inside.”

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.”

“Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

“I was drawn to his aloofness, the way athletes are drawn to shy, unapproachable champions.”

“Youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.”

“Action is character.”

Facts on F. Scott Fitzgerald

Early Life: F. Scott Fitzgerald, born Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota, was named after his distant relative Francis Scott Key, the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Princeton University: Fitzgerald attended Princeton University but left before graduating to join the U.S. Army during World War I. He was not a stellar student but was involved in various extracurricular activities, including the Triangle Club.

Zelda Sayre: Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda Sayre, was a major influence on his life and work. They met in Montgomery, Alabama, and their turbulent relationship inspired much of his writing. Zelda herself was a writer and dancer.

The Jazz Age: Fitzgerald coined the term “Jazz Age” to describe the cultural and social dynamics of the 1920s in America. This period was characterized by economic prosperity, cultural upheaval, and a rejection of traditional norms.

This Side of Paradise: Fitzgerald’s debut novel, “This Side of Paradise,” was published in 1920. The semi-autobiographical novel explored the life of Amory Blaine, a young man coming of age in post-World War I America, and it brought Fitzgerald instant fame.

The Great Gatsby: “The Great Gatsby,” published in 1925, is considered Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. The novel explores themes of wealth, love, and the American Dream. While it wasn’t a commercial success during Fitzgerald’s lifetime, it is now regarded as one of the greatest American novels.

Expatriate Life: Fitzgerald and Zelda spent a significant portion of the 1920s in Europe, particularly in France. They were part of the expatriate community, socializing with other literary figures such as Ernest Hemingway.

Tender Is the Night: Fitzgerald’s novel “Tender Is the Night,” published in 1934, is a semi-autobiographical work that delves into the disintegration of a marriage. The novel received mixed reviews at the time but has gained recognition in later years.

Hollywood: In the later years of his life, Fitzgerald struggled financially and turned to Hollywood for work. He worked as a screenwriter, contributing to scripts for movies such as “Gone with the Wind.”

Alcoholism: Fitzgerald battled with alcoholism throughout his life. His struggles with drinking had a significant impact on his health and relationships.

Last Work: Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel, “The Last Tycoon,” was published posthumously. It explores the behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood and is considered a reflection of his experiences in the film industry.

Death: F. Scott Fitzgerald passed away on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44, from a heart attack. At the time of his death, he was working on a novel titled “The Love of the Last Tycoon,” which was published posthumously as “The Last Tycoon.”

Posthumous Recognition: Fitzgerald’s reputation grew significantly after his death. His works, particularly “The Great Gatsby,” gained critical acclaim and are now regarded as classics of American literature.

Influence on Popular Culture: Fitzgerald’s life and works have left an indelible mark on popular culture. Numerous film adaptations of his novels, including multiple versions of “The Great Gatsby,” have been produced, and his quotes are often referenced in various forms of media.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s family life

Father – Edward Fitzgerald: Edward Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s father, worked as a wicker furniture salesman. He had a modest income, and his failure in business led to financial struggles for the family. Fitzgerald’s relationship with his father, much like the relationships depicted in some of his works, was complex.

Mother – Mary McQuillan: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mother, Mary McQuillan, came from an Irish-Catholic background. While Edward’s failures put a strain on the family’s financial situation, Mary instilled in Fitzgerald a sense of ambition and the belief that he could achieve greatness.

Wife – Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald: Zelda Sayre, an influential and spirited Southern belle, became F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife in 1920. Their courtship and marriage were marked by intense passion and turbulence. Zelda, a writer and dancer, served as an inspiration for many of Fitzgerald’s female characters, and their relationship is reflected in his novels, particularly in “Tender Is the Night.”

Daughter – Frances Scott Fitzgerald (Scottie): F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had one child, a daughter named Frances Scott Fitzgerald, who was known as Scottie. She was born in 1921 and went on to become a journalist and writer. Scottie’s memoir, “Scottie: The Daughter of…,” provides insights into her parents’ lives.

Descendants: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda’s only grandchild, Eleanor Anne Lanahan, was born to their daughter Scottie. Eleanor Anne has been involved in preserving and promoting her grandparents’ legacy. The Fitzgerald family has continued to contribute to discussions about the author’s life and works.

Academic References on F. Scott Fitzgerald

Books:

  • “F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography” by Jeffrey Meyers (1994)
  • “Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography” by Matthew J. Bruccoli (2002)
  • “F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby” by H. Bloom (2009)
  • “Zelda and Scott: A Marriage” by Kendall Taylor (2002)
  • “F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters” edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Judith S. Baughman (1994)
  • “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: A Literary Reference” by Matthew J. Bruccoli (2000)
  • “The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald” edited by Ruth Prigozy (2002)
  • “Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the Twenties” by Ronald Berman (2001)

Articles:

  • “Gatsby’s Pristine Dream: The Diminishment of the Self-Made Man in the Tribal Twenties” by Ronald Berman (1980)
  • “Fitzgerald’s Odyssey: Scott and Zelda’s Influence on Modern American Literature” by James L.W. West III (1997)
  • “Gatsby: False Prophet of the American Dream” by J. Ronald Green (1970)
  • “The Education of F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Jackson R. Bryer (1992)
  • “The Strange, Sad Case of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Linda Wagner-Martin (1975)

This Article will answer your questions like:

  • Who really wrote Great Gatsby?
  • What was F. Scott Fitzgerald cause of death?
  • What was the tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald?
  • What are 3 interesting facts about F Scott Fitzgerald?
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