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Francis Scott Fitzgerald

(1896-1940)

from "Fields of Vision by D.Delaney”

Life

Early years Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Minnesota into an upper-class family. He attended Princeton University but, due to the outbreak of the First World War, he interrupted his studies and joined the army.

Success, marriage and the high life After his discharge from the army he moved to New York City, where he started work on his first novel. This Side of Paradise was published in 1920 and was an immediate success. In 1921 he married his fiancée Zelda, a young socialite from a wealthy background, and embarked with her on a high life of big spending and party-going. To support such a lifestyle Fitzgerald had to keep turning out large amounts of work, so he started writing stories for popular papers. The appearance of his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), consolidated his fame as a brilliant writer.

Europe and "The Great Gatsby”  In 1924 the couple moved to Europe and settled on the French Riviera. The following year Fitzgerald published what is widely considered his finest novel, The Great Gatsby. However, the book was not a commercial success and marked the beginning of the decline of the author’s popularity.

Illness, debts and declining reputation For the next five years the Fitzgeralds traveled back and forth between Europe and the United States. Zelda suffered a series of nervous breakdowns and was hospitalized for much of the rest of her life. In 1934 Fitzgerald published Tender is the Night which, although critically acclaimed, sold badly. Frustrated and in serious debt, he started working as a scriptwriter for a major movie studio in Hollywood. He only completed one screenplay before being dismissed for alcohol abuse.

Final publications Fitzgerald returned to writing short stories. In 1940, before completing his final novel, The Last Tycoon (published in 1941), he died, at forty-four, of a heart attack.

Works

A record of his life and times Fitzgerald was the author who best represented the historical decade in America known as the "Roaring Twenties”, or the "Jazz Age”. He was not, however, a detached observer of the period – he experienced it first hand and was an expression of its aspirations, dreams and excesses. All his novels are autobiographical to some degree. Tender is the Night (1934), for example, tells the story of a psychiatrist who marries one of his patients and reflects the author’s experience as the husband of the mentally unstable Zelda.

An American classic Since its publication in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become a major American classic. The story is set on Long Island, where the Fitzgeralds rented a house in the 1920s. It is narrated by Nick Carraway, a detached but curious observer who watches his wealthy neighbors living a hedonistic, destructive and immoral life. It captures the spiritual bankruptcy and material excesses of the time and questions the basic principles of the American Dream.

Style Fitzgerald’s greatest talent as a writer was his ability to create atmosphere and characters. His rich, elegant prose style is dense in metaphors, similes, and symbols, and often has the evocative beauty of poetry.

External Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Fitzgerald      

 
 
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