Episode #6 of the course “Significant American writers of the 20th century”
A beloved author whose name is associated with the 1920s “Jazz Age,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered one of the writers of the “lost generation.” He published four novels, many short stories, and an essay collection recounting his struggles during a nervous breakdown. Fitzgerald’s life was tumultuous, and his marriage to his wife Zelda was like a soap opera. A literary celebrity in his day, Fitzgerald’s fame and life were cut short when he died of a heart attack at age 44.
Born in 1896 in Minnesota, F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up in New York with ambitions to be a writer from a young age. He attended Princeton University, which served as the basis for his first novel, This Side of Paradise. While awaiting Army training in Alabama, he fell in love with Zelda, his “golden girl.” Fitzgerald won her over and became able to support her when his novel was a success. They married in 1920.
Scott and Zelda spent the 1920s traveling between the US and Europe—especially France—enjoying the emerging “jazz lifestyle.” He developed friendships with some of the most prominent writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway, and wrote frequently for magazines. His third novel, The Great Gatsby (published in 1925) went largely unnoticed by the general public.
In 1930, Fitzgerald’s life changed dramatically when Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He placed her in an institution, which affected his physical and mental health. Exhausted and financially drained, Fitzgerald took a job as a Hollywood screenwriter. This served as inspiration for his final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, which remained unfinished at his death in 1940 (though it has been published in its incomplete form). F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for depicting a turning point in American ideals, behaviors, and social norms. He romantically wrote about “lost loves” of all kinds, including the loss of people’s love of old ideas.
“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.”
“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 don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”
“A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big.”
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