F. Scott Fitzgerald (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald) Biography
(1896–1940), (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald), This Side of Paradise, Flappers and Philosophers
American novelist and short-story writer, born in St Paul, Minnesota. He entered Princeton University at the age of 17 where he took part in a variety of extracurricular literary and dramatic activities and befriended campus intellectuals like Edmund Wilson. He then joined the army and was posted to Montgomery, Alabama, where he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, a local belle, who refused to marry him when it transpired that he was unable to maintain her in her accustomed lifestyle. Fitzgerald went to New York City in 1919 determined to win her. Revising and completing a novel written at college, he published This Side of Paradise (1920) which was an immediate bestseller, and he became a celebrity overnight. A novel about college life, it was regarded as the voice of the younger generation and the jazz age, in a society increasingly preoccupied with the ideal of youth. A week later he married Zelda. However, their life together was difficult and they proved incapable of handling the pressures of living beyond their means. Living extravagantly at St Paul, Long Island, and New York, Fitzgerald published two collections of short stories, Flappers and Philosophers (1921) and Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), and a second novel, The Beautiful and Damned (1922), concerned with the extravagant and dissolute life led by a wealthy, aristocratic young artist and his wife. In 1924 the Fitzgeralds moved to Europe, and met such figures as Hemingway, Stein, and Pound (see Lost Generation, The). During this time he published his most acclaimed book, The Great Gatsby (1925), and another book of short stories, All the Sad Young Men (1926). To support his failing standard of living he wrote hundreds of stories, many of them collected in Taps at Reveille (1935), Afternoon of an Author (1958), and The Pat Hobby Stories (1962). He became an alcoholic, while Zelda became mentally unstable until in 1930 she broke down, living most of the remainder of her life in mental institutions. In 1931 Fitzgerald returned permanently to the USA, living at first near Baltimore where Zelda was hospitalized. Tender is the Night (1934), like The Great Gatsby, investigates the illusions engendered by the ‘American Dream’, the materialist ethic, and the romantic alternatives. By 1937 Fitzgerald's alcoholism had worsened and he turned to Hollywood screenwriting, but his health was ruined and he died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His unfinished novel about a film mogul, The Last Tycoon (1941), was posthumously published by Edmund Wilson, who also edited a miscellany of Fitzgerald's writings entitled The Crack-Up (1945). He also left behind a satirical play, The Vegetable; Or, From President to Postman (1923), and his Letters (1963).
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