The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald September 24, 1896 - December 10, 1940. Early Years. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (named after Francis Scott Key, author of the United States' national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner")
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The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald September 24, 1896 - December 10, 1940
Early Years • Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (named after Francis Scott Key, author of the United States' national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner") • Born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota to an upper middle class Irish Catholic family. • 1913 - entered Princeton University, but was not a good student and didn’t finish school • 1917 Fitzgerald left Princeton to join the army.
Just out of his reach… • 1918 - While in Montgomery, Alabama, he met Zelda Sayre, daughter of a wealthy Alabama family. A year later they were engaged, but Zelda broke it off a few months later because she couldn’t marry anyone who couldn’t financially support her. • Fitzgerald sets out to earn her love by earning $$$.
Winning Zelda $$ • 1919 - F. Scott = Discharged from army and moved to New York City. Worked in advertising and wrote his first novel The Romantic Egoist. It was rejected by Charles Scribner, but after three revisions they published it as This Side Of Paradise (1920) and it became one of the most popular books of the year. • He and Zelda married on April 3, 1920, at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Their daughter Frances Scott 'Scottie' was born in 1922. • They lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous, constantly entertaining. • Zelda = flirtatious; Fitzgerald = jealous • It was the beginning of a turbulent life together.
Lavish Lifestyle • Zelda embraced the flapper lifestyle, dressing provocatively and smoking cigarettes • Together they enjoyed the free-thinking, materialistic pursuits of the roaring twenties when the post-war American economy was booming. • 1920’s = prohibition, however, there was plenty of alcohol in the Fitzgerald household. • 1927 - The Fitzgeralds rented a 27 bedroom mansion and drunken parties ensued. Fitzgerald was increasingly turning to alcohol, sometimes becoming abusive. Zelda often acted out impetuously, embarrassing herself in front of friends and strangers.
Health and Marriage Suffering • 1930 - While in North Africa, Zelda had a nervous breakdown and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. For the next few years she was in and out of clinics in Switzerland. • Meanwhile, Fitzgerald used his wife's mental breakdowns and their overall dysfunctional relationship in his writings.
F. Scott the script writer • Finances become very difficult for them. • 1931 - Although he claimed to detest it, Fitzgerald moved to California to write scripts for MGM. • 1938 - Fitzgerald’s contract with MGM was not renewed, however, several other film companies hired him to do freelance work. But Fitzgerald's alcoholism continually interfered with his life and work, requiring hospitalization at times.
Toward the end… • 1940 - Still struggling with her illness, Zelda moved back to America and went to live with her mother. • In November Fitzgerald suffers a heart attack and a month later, on 21 December 1940, he died of a second heart attack in Hollywood, California. • 1948 - Zelda died in a fire at the Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
Novels: This Side of Paradise (1920) The Beautiful and the Damned (1922) The Great Gatsby (1925) Tender is the Night (1934) The Last Tycoon (1941 & unfinished) He also published numerous short stories and short story collections including: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” His Works
The Great Gatsby • It is the crowning achievement of Fitzgerald’s career. • "There's no such thing...as a flawless novel. But if there is, this is it.” • Charles Jackson, author
Setting • 1920s aka The Jazz Age • This era lasted from the end of WWI to the Stock Market Crash in 1929
Financial prosperity & moral uncertainty “First Youth Rebellion” = youth questioned all morals and lived only for the moment $$ is easily available = “boom” period Travel = a way of life. A wandering, aimless lifestyle was the norm Raging fads = dance contests, goldfish swallowing and flagpole sitting Parties were important. The wilder, the better Prohibition of alcohol was in effect, but the sale & consumption of liquor was openly flaunted. General Characteristics of the Jazz Age
The 18th Amendment • “No person shall on or after the date when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States goes into effect, manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish, or process any intoxicating liquor except as authorized by this act.” • title ii, section 3, National Prohibition Act
Plot basics • Plot = a story within a story • Narrator = 3rd person, limited = Nick Carraway tells his version of Jay Gatsby’s life • Nick is unsettled by the Buchanans' seemingly purposeless lives and hates Gatsby’s values. However, he comes to see something heroic in Gatsby’s vision. • This conflict in Nick reflects America's own loss of innocence in the face of the crass materialism of the 1920s.
Nick is Daisy’s second cousin once removed • The child of one's first cousin is one's first cousin once removed because the one generation separation represents one removal. • See next slide for info
Major Topics to Examine • The American Dream • American morality in the 1920’s • Emptiness created by materialism • Society and class