The Crack Up By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

The Crack Up By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

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When Esquire magazine first published F. Scott Fitzgerald’s series of essays “The Crack-up”, “Pasting It Together” and “Handle With Care,” collectively know today as “The Crack-Up,” in the year 1936, the author was slammed with criticism by many prominent literary figures of the time. In all three essays, which share a similar tone, Fitzgerald gradually describes a “crack-up”— what he explains to be a physical breakdown characterized by lack of willingness and vitality to keep on fighting for success and a spiritual breakdown characterized by the loss of all motive and will to be generous and compassionate—he claims he prematurely suffered and suddenly realized. Fitzgerald presumes this slump as being analogous to a salt losing its flavor: “Ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” (524). The years leading to 1936 had particularly marked the start of rough times in Fitzgerald’s life and career, and the work is totally representative of this. Fitzgerald’s recently published book Tender Is the Night hadn’t gained much success and he was in a deep financial trouble then1. Fitzgerald had also been in an extremely poor health condition, having been hospitalized multiple times from ailments like tuberculosis, and making matters worse for him, his wife Zelda Fitzgerald had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, adding more financial, emotional, and commitment burden on him. Fitzgerald seems to have vented his frustration from all these failures and fiascos in the essays, where he lets the world know that he has given up all the ideals that had governed his life and is no longer the same person.
Consequently, at the time of publication, critics deemed that the pieces were exceedingly r...

... middle of paper ... want it to follow, and then out of sheer frustration, gave up, blaming his capitulation on the breakdowns instead.
As an aside, when we look at the essays in a contextual perspective, analyzing it along with what was going on in Fitzgerald’s life when he wrote and published them, we find that the Fitzgerald barely discloses any detail about himself at all. He hides his decade long alcoholism problem and all the health troubles he was facing as a result, he never mentions anything about his wife’s mental disorder, and he also talks very little about his financial difficulty springing from poorly selling books. In this perspective, the essays look more like an art, where Fitzgerald succeeds in drowning his sorrows between the metaphors to accurately convey his torment, without really letting the world know of the much severe breakdowns he had really gone through.

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