F. S. Fitzgerald's Fighting the Past and Self-loathing in Babylon Revisited

analytical Essay
1730 words
1730 words

F. S. Fitzgerald's Fighting the Past and Self-Loathing in "Babylon Revisited"

Franklin Scott Fitzgerald's life as a writer in the 1920's shaped the stories that he created. Much of the content of many of his tales correlates with his private life with his wife Zelda, his trouble with alcohol, and their lives in Europe. Fitzgerald wrote the story "Babylon Revisited" - perhaps his most widely read story - in December of 1930, and then it was published in February of 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post. Mathew J. Bruccoli writes in "A Brief Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald" that "The dominant influences on F. Scott Fitzgerald were aspiration...Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, and alcohol," and each of these influences are painfully visible in "Babylon Revisited." Charlie Wales, the main character in "Babylon Revisited," is obviously an image of Fitzgerald and the life that he lived in the roaring twenties, but the sympathy that Fitzgerald's writing seems to presume is as shallow as Charlie's giving up alcohol. The bond between Fitzgerald and Charlie Wales, however, is not as shallow as the contempt that Fitzgerald holds for the life that both he and Charlie experienced: both Charlie and Fitzgerald experience financial success, suffering marriages, and alcoholism.

Through the narration of Charlie's past and his conversations with various characters in "Babylon Revisited," it is explained that Charlie became somewhat wealthy in the boom of the 1920's and spent it frivolously. Charlie and Helen Wales enjoyed a carefree life full of parties, plays, and other functions of high society in which they paid exorbitant amounts of money to every person that they dealt with, where Charlie remembers "thousand-franc notes given to an orchestra for playing...

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...rough her affair with a French naval aviator contributed almost the entire storyline from which Fitzgerald created Charlie and the whole of "Babylon Revisited."


Fitzgerald, F. Scott. "Babylon Revisited." From The International Story. Spack, Robert, ed. St. Martin's Press: New York. 1994, pp86-102.

William J. Brondell, "Structural Metaphors in Fitzgerald's Short Fiction," in Kansas Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 2, Spring, 1982, pp. 107-11.

James M. Harrison, "Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited'," in The Explicator, Vol. 16, No. 4, January, 1958, pp. 1, 3. Reprinted in Short Story Criticism, Vol. 31.

Matthew J. Bruccoli's "A Brief Life of Fitzgerald" originally appeared in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, ed. Bruccoli with the assistance of Judith S. Baughman (New York: Scribners, 1994.); essay reprinted courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how f. scott fitzgerald's life as a writer in the 1920s shaped the stories that he created. he wrote "babylon revisited" in 1930, and it was published in 1931.
  • Analyzes how the narration of charlie's past and his conversations with various characters in "babylon revisited" explain that charlie became wealthy in the boom of the 1920s and spent it frivolously.
  • Analyzes how charlie locked helen out of the house he had left in a rage because she had been flirting with and kissing another man at the event they were at. the kiss was not the first time that helen had acted in that way.
  • Analyzes how charlie and fitzgerald's drinking habits continue to haunt them and remind them of their previous way of life. fitzgerald, on the other hand, never lost his wife zelda or his child due to his drinking.
  • Analyzes how fitzgerald's story is bursting with contempt for charlie’s past way of life and basically condemning charlie to always be missing something in his life, in this case, his wife, helen, and child, honoria.
  • Analyzes how the story is written as though the reader is experiencing the situation through the mind of a drunk man.
  • Analyzes how fitzgerald portrays charlie's drinking problem as a weakness in "babylon revisited." charlie loses his daughter to marion because he has to be admitted into the sanitarium because of his grief.
  • Analyzes how charlie is self-destructive because he inadvertently allowed duncan and lorraine to find lincoln's home. the surprise jolts marion back into reasoning that charlie was not worthy to raise his own daughter.
  • Analyzes how the counter-balance of marion's extreme emotional state with charlie’s disturbingly controlled manner deepens the criticism of charlie by fitzgerald.
  • Concludes that fitzgerald has transposed an image of himself in charlie, and that he probably meant for the character to act as a means for fitzgerald to escape his lifestyle.
  • Compares fitzgerald's 'babylon revisited' with william j. brondell and james m. harrison.
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