F. scott fitzgerald - the great gatsby


"There are no second acts in American lives," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, who himself went from being the high priest of the Jazz Age to a down-and-out alcoholic within the space of 20 years, but not before giving the world several literary masterpieces, the most famous of which is "The Great Gatsby" (1924).

He was born in 1896 to a mother who spoiled him shamelessly, leading him to grow up an especially self-possessed young man. While he was obsessed by the image of Princeton University, he flunked out, less interested in Latin and trigonometry than bathtub gin and :bright young things". The brightest was an unconventional young lady from Montgomery, Alabama named Zelda Sayre . Fitzgerald invoked the jealousy of numerous local boys, some of whom had even begun a fraternity in Zelda's honor, by snagging her shortly before the publication of his first novel, "This Side of Paradise". The novel was a huge success, and Fitzgerald suddenly found himself the most highly-paid writer in America.

During the mid-to-late '20s the Fitzgeralds lived in Europe among many American expatriates including Gertrude Stein , Cole Porter , Ernest Hemingway and Thornton Wilder . He wrote what is considered his greatest masterpiece, "The Great Gatsby", while living in Paris. It was at the end of this period (1924-30) that his marriage to the highly strung, demanding and mentally unstable Zelda began to unravel. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent much of the rest of her life in a variety of mental institutions. Fitzgerald turned more and more to alcohol. In 1930 a major crisis came when Zelda had a series of psychotic attacks, beginning a descent into madness and schizophrenia from which she would never recover. Much of Fitzgerald's income would now be dedicated to keeping his wife in mental hospitals. Emotionally and creatively wrung out, he wrote "Tender is The Night" (1934), the story of Dick Diver and his schizophrenic wife Nicole, that shows the pain that he felt himself. In the mid-30s Fitzgerald had a breakdown of his own. He had become a clinical alcoholic, something he would detail in his famous "The Crack-Up" series of essays.

With Zelda institutionalized on the East Coast, it was Hollywood that proved to be Fitzgerald's salvation. Although he had little success in writing for films, which he had attempted several times previously, he was paid well and gained a new professional standing. His experiences there inspired "The Last Tycoon", his last--and unfinished--novel which some believe might have been his greatest of all. Fitzgerald died at the home of his mistress, writer Sheilah Graham , of a heart attack in 1940, believing himself to be a failed and broken man. He never knew that he would one day be considered one of the finest writers of the 20th century.

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Edward Fitzgerald failed as a manufacturer of wicker furniture in St. Paul, and he became a salesman for Procter & Gamble in upstate New York. After he was dismissed in 1908, when his son was twelve, the family returned to St. Paul and lived comfortably on Mollie Fitzgerald’s inheritance. Fitzgerald attended the St. Paul Academy; his first writing to appear in print was a detective story in the school newspaper when he was thirteen.


F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

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