F. Scott Fitzgerald

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F.Scott Fitzgerald, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896December 21,1940) was an Irish-American Jazz Age novelist and short story writer.

Fitzgerald is regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. In his own age, Fitzgerald was the self-styled spokesman of the "Lost Generation", or the Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I. He crafted five novels and dozens of short stories that treat themes of youth, despair, and age. Many admire what they consider his remarkable emotional honesty. His heroes -- handsome, confident, and doomed -- blaze brilliantly before exploding, and his heroines are typically beautiful, intricate, and alluring.


Early years

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Fitzgerald was named for his relative Francis Scott Key, but was commonly known as Scott.

Fitzgerald attended Saint Paul Academy and Summit School in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1908-1911. He then attended Newman School, a prep school in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1911-12. He entered Princeton University in 1913 as a member of the Class of 1917 and became friends with the future critics and writers Edmund Wilson (Class of '16) and John Peale Bishop (Class of '17). Saddled with academic difficulties throughout his three-year career at the university, Fitzgerald dropped out in 1917 to enlist in the United States Army when America entered World War I.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald on a United States stamp

Fearing he might die in the war, and determined to leave a literary legacy, Fitzgerald wrote a novel entitled The Romantic Egoist while in officer training at Camp Zachary Taylor and Camp Sheridan. When Fitzgerald submitted the novel to the publisher Charles Scribner's Sons, the editor praised Fitzgerald but ultimately declined to publish.

The war ended shortly after Fitzgerald's enlistment, and he was discharged without ever having been shipped to Europe.

Life with Zelda

While at Camp Sheridan, Fitzgerald met Zelda Sayre (1900-1948), the "top girl," in Fitzgerald's words, of Montgomery, Alabama, youth society. The two were engaged in 1919 and Fitzgerald moved into an apartment at 200 Claremont Avenue in New York City to try to lay a foundation for his life with Zelda. Working at an advertising firm and writing short stories, Fitzgerald was unable to convince Zelda that he would be able to support her. She broke off the engagement and Fitzgerald returned to his parents' house in St. Paul to revise The Romantic Egotist. Recast as This Side of Paradise, it was accepted by Scribner's in the fall of 1919, and Zelda and Scott resumed their engagement. The novel was published on March 26, 1920, and became one of the most popular books of the year, defining the flapper generation. The next week, Scott and Zelda were married in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Their daughter and only child, Frances Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald, was born on October 26, 1921.

The Roaring Twenties

The 1920s proved the most influential decade of Fitzgerald's development. His second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, published in 1922, represents an impressive development over the comparatively immature This Side of Paradise. The Great Gatsby, which many consider his masterpiece, was published in 1925. Fitzgerald made several famous excursions to Europe, notably Paris and the French Riviera, and became friends with many members of the American expatriate community in Paris, notably Ernest Hemingway.

Although Fitzgerald's passion lay in writing novels, they never sold well enough to support the opulent lifestyle that he and Zelda adopted as New York celebrities. To support this lifestyle, he turned to writing short stories for such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Magazine, and Esquire magazine, and sold movie rights of his stories and novels to Hollywood studios. He was constantly in financial trouble and often required loans from his literary agent, Harold Ober, and his editor at Scribner's, Maxwell Perkins.

Fitzgerald began working on his fourth novel during the late 1920s but was sidetracked by financial difficulties that necessitated his writing commercial short stories, and the schizophrenia that struck Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in 1930. Her emotional health remained fragile for the rest of her life. In 1932, she was hospitalized in Baltimore, Maryland, and Scott rented the "La Paix" estate in the suburb of Towson to work on his book, which had become the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. It was published in 1934 as Tender Is the Night. [1] (http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmTender01.asp). Critics regard it as one of Fitzgerald's finest works.

Hollywood years

Once again in dire financial straits, Fitzgerald spent the second half of the 1930s in Hollywood, working on commercial short stories, scripts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, such as that for Gone With The Wind, and his fifth and final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, based on the life of film executive Irving Thalberg. He and Zelda became estranged; she continued living in mental institutions on the east coast, while he lived with his lover Sheilah Graham in Hollywood.

From 1939 until his death, Fitzgerald mocked himself as a Hollywood hack through the character of Pat Hobby, in a sequence of 17 short stories, later collected as "The Pat Hobby Stories."

Always something of an alcoholic and consequently in poor health during the late 1930s, Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks in late 1940. After the first he was ordered by his doctor to avoid strenuous exertion and to obtain a first floor apartment. As Sheilah Graham, his lover at the time, had an apartment on the first floor, he moved in with her. On the night of December 20, 1940 he had his second heart attack but since the doctor was to come to his house the following day he and Shielah went home. On December 21, 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald collapsed while clutching the mantlepiece in Shielah Graham's apartment. His funeral was attended by very few people. Among the attendants was Dorothy Parker who reportedly cried and murmured, "the poor son of a bitch," a line from Jay Gatsby's funeral in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Zelda died in a fire at the Highland mental institution in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1948. The two were originally buried in Rockville Union Cemetery but with the permission and assistance of their only child, Frances "Scottie" Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith, the Women's Club of Rockville had their bodies moved to the family plot in Saint Mary's Cemetery, in Rockville, Maryland.

He never completed The Love of the Last Tycoon. His notes for the novel were edited by his friend Edmund Wilson and published in 1941 as The Last Tycoon. However, there is now critical agreement that Fitzgerald intended the title of the book to be The Love of the Last Tycoon, as is reflected in a new 1994 edition of the book, edited by Fitzgerald scholar Matthew Bruccoli of the University of South Carolina.

The film "Beloved Infidel" (1959) portrays Fitzgerald (played by Gregory Peck) during his final years as a Hollywood scenarist.



Short story collections

Other works



  • "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
  • "I was the spark that lit up Flaming Youth, Colleen Moore was the torch. What little things we are to have caused all that trouble."
  • "The rich are different than you and me."
  • "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
  • "Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy."
  • "They are a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."
  • "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
  • "There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice."
  • "He wanted not association with glittering things and glittering people -- he wanted the glittering things themselves."
  • "The poor son of a bitch."

Biography and criticism

  • The standard biographies of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are Arthur Mizener's The Far Side of Paradise (1951, 1965), and Matthew Bruccoli's Some Sort of Epic Grandeur (1981). Bruccoli's account is more readable and more accurate. Fitzgerald's letters have also been published in various editions such as Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, ed. Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Banks (2002); Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Matthew Bruccoli and Margaret Duggan (1980), and F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, ed. Matthew Bruccoli (1994).
  • Zelda Fitzgerald published a novel, Save Me the Waltz, in 1932.

External link

cs:Francis Scott Fitzgerald da:Francis Scott Fitzgerald de:F. Scott Fitzgerald es:F. Scott Fitzgerald fr:Francis Scott Fitzgerald nl:F. Scott Fitzgerald ja:スコット・フィッツジェラルド pl:Francis Scott Fitzgerald sv:F. Scott Fitzgerald zh:佛兰西斯·史考特·基·费兹杰罗


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