F. Scott Fitzgerald

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F. Scott Fitzgerald F. Scott Fitzgerald is in many ways one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century. In his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald epitomized the mindset of an era with the statement that his generation had, "grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, and all faiths in man shaken…"(Fitzgerald 307). Aside from being a major literary voice of the twenties and thirties, Fitzgerald was also among "The Lost Generation’s" harshest and most insightful social critics. In his classic novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald blatantly criticized the immorality, materialism, and hedonism which characterized the lifestyles of America’s bourgeois during the nineteen-twenties. Collectively, Fitzgerald’s novels and short stories provide some of the best insight into the lifestyles of the rich during America’s most prosperous era, while simultaneously examining major literary themes such as disillusionment, coming of age, and the corruption of the American Dream. The life of F. Scott Fitzgerald is marked by as much, if not more, romanticism and tragedy than his novels. Throughout Fitzgerald’s life, he unsuccessfully battled alcoholism, depression, and himself, in a quest for both personal and literary identity. At the age of twenty-three, Fitzgerald published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to critical raves and unimaginable economic success. Shortly after the publishing of this novel, Fitzgerald was able to coerce Zelda Sayre into marriage. This marriage is manifestly the most significant event of his life—eventually, Zelda would not only expedite, but essentially, cause the personal and literary downfall of Fitzgerald. Upon marriage, and also coinciding with the pinnacle of Fitzgerald’s fame, Scott and Zelda began living a life of wasteful extravagance that was often characterized by recklessly drunken behavior. In order to maintain this lifestyle, Fitzgerald was forced to put aside working on novels, and focus his creative efforts on penning lucrative, but by no means extraordinary, short stories. Throughout their marriage, Zelda put constant economic, as well as, emotional strains on Fitzgerald. She encouraged his short story writing, as well as his drinking, and was continually swaying his focus from writing to socializing. Also, Zelda’s eventual mental breakdown triggered Scott’s own series of nervous breakdowns. Because of these factors, Zelda is often considered the prime instigator of Fitzgerald’s literary and personal declines. Yet in spite of Zelda’s overtly negative influence on Fitzgerald, he continued to love his wife to the day he died.
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