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Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. (1896 - 1940).

L i f e

- his father was from a poor, though socially prominent family x his mother was born into ‘new money’

- fell in love with Zelda, started to work at his novel This Side of Paradise to win financial success to persuade Zelda to marry him

- after marriage led a glamorous, extravagant, and emotionally stormy life style

- a two-year extended Europe trip: met Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound, began a tense competitive friendship with Ernest Hemingway

- experienced an abrupt reversal of fortune: the deepening of the Great Depression, his deepening debts and alcoholism, and Zelda’s mental breakdown and placement to a mental home

- his life is symbolic of the 1920s decade = a youthful enthusiasm and euphoria followed by tension, trauma, and death

W o r k

- sensitiveness to social class, a deep ambivalence toward both money and social status

- a divided consciousness: simultaneously attracted x repulsed, enchanted x offended by sexual love and great wealth

- a new concept an archetypical American hero: a poor man gains money x but: not happiness => money does not equal to happiness

Flappers and Philosophers (1920), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), All the Sad Young Men (1926):

- succesful collections of short stories

- coined the word ‘flapper’ = a challenging, self-confident, and educated woman

This Side of Paradise (1920):

- an autobiographical novel about a young Princeton college student and his loves

The Beautiful and the Damned (1922):

- a young couple’s moral and sexual dissolution in parties, alcohol, and drugs

The Great Gatsby (1925):

- his finest novel about his favourite themes of love and money

- language: rich in vocabulary, original in figures of speech, and quick one sentence descriptions

- setting: the new money West Egg (Gatsby) x the old money East Egg

- theme: a poor man gains money x but: not happiness

Tender is the Night (1934):

- the title: from John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”

- an alcoholic American psychiatrist disastrously marries one of his wealthy patients, modelled after Zelda

The Last Tycoon (unfinished):

- concerned with a self-made Hollywood producer


(Photo: Carl Van Vechten. 1937. Source: Wikipedia).

  • Author

    Francis Scott (Key) Fitzgerald. (1896 - 1940). American.
  • Work

    Novelist. Short story writer. Author of The Great Gatsby (1925).
  • Genres

    Modern fiction. Jazz Age. Lost Generation.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists, all powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death".

Ernest Hemingway describes Fitzgerald's version of heaven.


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