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Welcome to the roaring 1920's! The Jazz Age. A period within time which
the passive behaviors, beliefs, and purity of the past generations, were tossed
aside to create room for the changes America was about to experience! The birth
of independent voting rights for women, lavishing parties, and where excitement
was to be found in every corner. This was the era in which the people were
considered the "Lost Generation," and from this environment emerged a eminent
writer of those times. Francis Scott Fitzgerald.
Born to the calm and submissive atmosphere of St. Paul Minnesota, he
came from a line of highly regarded men and women from his family's past. His
most famous relative by far was Francis Scott Key. The writer of our national
anthem. Though he was certainly the most famous Fitzgerald, his mother was the
most eccentric. Often dressed in miss-matched shoes and had a peculiar behavior,
she at one time stared at a woman whose husband was dying and said: "I'm trying
to decide how you'll look in the mourning."
"I helped him by encouraging his urge to write adventures. It was also
his best work. He did not shine in his other subjects. It was the pride in his
literary work that put him in his real bent." Recalls his St. Paul Academy
teacher. From that prestigious school he then traveled and began attendance in
Princeton University. Not a promising student he was often late to his classes.
His excuse was once "Sir-it's absurd to expect me to be on time. I'm a
genius!!!" Though the "Princeton years" we not his most memorable, it provided
an outlet for his writing, and talent.
During his junior year he left Princeton and entered the army in 1917.
Though he was never sent to battle for his country, there he began work on the
short story, The Romantic Egoist, which was published as This Side of Paradise.
Though rejected it later returns as a imitated nationwide sensation. When time
and America began evolving, then was his work beginning to receive its time
awaited praise. The Jazz Age had arrived! By this period Fitzgerald had already
found his love and married the enchanting Zelda Syre. She was an accomplished
writer, ballet dancer, and painter. Though every one of these qualities were
contributions to her vivid personality, her flaws were seen by many! "Her
rudeness, selfishness and lack of self restraint! She abuses men terribly then
cuts and breaks dates with them, yawns in their faces, and they come back for
more!" recalls Fitzgerald. As the jaded, rebellious "flaming youth" of the new
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This Side of Paradise. And during America's decade of prosperity, excess, and
abandon, he became noted as the spokesman for the Jazz Age.
He continued to write, and he then achieved his strongest and greatest
work which described the weaknesses and the ideals which America lost. The Great
Gatsby. Now considered a classic of our times, it marked the beginning of the
author's decline in popularity. This and several other factors effected his
writing. Zelda's schizophrenia, lack of inspiration, efforts in remaining a good
father for his daughter Scottie, and financial difficulties.
"...Ability to perceive the reality behind the glittering carnival, the
face behind the mask." This was the work of Fitzgerald in which our society and
numerous prominent American writers respect today. Without Fitzgerald's writings
a piece of our heritage and culture in the 20's may have been lost. The
unmatched voice of the Jazz Age.