Monday, October 18, 2004

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gatsby, being one of my favorite and most influential pieces of literature, has sparked a keen interested in me in learning more about its auther, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know that his writing is inspired by significant circumstances or events in his own life. I was very interested to learn and to be able to better understand the conditions which motivated his works.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. His father, an unsuccessful businessman, raised his family on his wife’s inheritance from a grocery store chain. Fitzgerald was first recognized for his writing at the age of 13 at his St. Paul prep school. He continued his education at a Catholic boarding school in New Jersey and then went onto Princeton in 1917. He actively pursued his writing throughout his time at Princeton, but seemed to neglect his other studies. At the threat of not graduating, Fitzgerald joined the army and wrote his first novel, The Romantic Egotist, in fear of dying at war. He was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery Alabama, where he met his debutante wife, Zelda Sayre. She refused to marry him until he achieved the wealth necessary for her lifestyle. He began writing novels and short stories when he failed in advertising. After he was famed for his second novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda agreed to marry him. The couple traveled throughout Europe before the birth of their first and only child Frances “Scottie.” They settled in St. Paul then relocated to Great Neck, New York to be nearer to Broadway. Fitzgerald became an alcoholic and often fought with his wife. His reputation as a writer was on the line as a result of his excessive habits. He relocated to France to write his third major novel, The Great Gatsby. At this time he befriended renowned author and influence, Ernest Hemingway. While abroad Zelda began to mentally unravel. Her hospitalizations continued throughout the rest of her life. In between Europe and America, with his alcoholic binges in full swing and an unstable wife, Fitzgerald’s writing was paused and he incurred major debts. He put Scottie in boarding school and corresponded with his daughter through letters. In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood and fell in love with columnist Sheilah Graham. He was able to pay back most of his debts with his movie scripts, but saved little. He died of a heart attack in 1940. Fitzgerald’s success with Gatsby long proceeded his death. Now, his work is regarded among the greatest and most defining American writing.
Fitzgerald's writing can be far better understood after studying the situations which provoked such universal realities.


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