The novel takes place following the First World War. American society enjoyed prosperity during the “roaring” 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol as mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers.
Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach … Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character.
For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
An innocent from the Middle West, his tolerance and decency makes him a reliable narrator.
The enigmatic hero whose romantic sensitivity endears him to Nick, his neighbour in West Egg; a self made man, driven by a single ambition.
Rich Spoilt, world weary and Beautiful, Nick’s “second-cousin once removed” had “an excitement in her voice that men who cared for her found it difficult to forget.”
Pompous, powerful and self important, his reflex instinct is to cause pain. He is used to getting what he wants and gives “the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward”.
Tom’s mistress is the complete opposite of Daisy, her “Intense vitality” and coarse sensuous satisfy a deep need in him.
“Blond, Spiritless… anaemic”, he runs a garage amid ash heaps on the road to NewYork.
A famous woman golfer doing the summer circuit of tournaments and dinner parties, she is also a charming habitual liar.
The sharpe but sentimental businessman from the seedy underworld, who claims to have ‘made’ Gatsby
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”opening line
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
“I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity.”
“You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.”
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
“It takes two to make an accident.”
“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”
F Scott Fitzgerald, was Born on 24th September, 1896, in Minnesota, to an upper-middle-class family, he was named after both his second cousin thrice removed, Francis Scott Key and after his deceased sister, Louise Scott Fitzgerald, one of two sisters who died shortly before his birth, but was always known as Scott Fitzgerald.
His father, Edward Fitzgerald, had moved to Minesotal from Maryland after the American Civil War. While his mother was Mary “Molly” McQuillan Fitzgerald, the daughter of an Irish immigrant who had made his fortune in the wholesale grocery business.
After spending his first 10 years of his childhood primarily in Buffalo, New York, where his father worked for Procter & Gamble, with a short interlude in Syracuse. Edward Fitzgerald had earlier worked as a wicker furniture salesman; he joined Procter & Gamble when the business failed.
Both his parents, were Catholic,so he went to two Catholic schools on the West Side of Buffalo, first Holy Angels Convent (1903–1904, now disused) and then Nardin Academy (1905–1908).
Fitzgerald’s formative years in Buffalo revealed him to be a boy of unusual intelligence with a keen early interest in literature. His mother’s inheritance and donations from an aunt allowed the family to live a comfortable lifestyle. In a rather unconventional style of parenting, Fitzgerald attended Holy Angels with the arrangement that he go for only half a day—and was allowed to choose which half.
Fitzgerald had his first work published, at the age of 11, a detective story in the school newspaper. In 1911.
At Newman, he was taught by Father Sigourney Fay, who recognized his literary potential and encouraged him to become a writer. After graduating from Newman in 1913, Fitzgerald enrolled at Princeton University, where he tried out for the football team and was cut, the first day of practice.
At Princeton, Fitzgerald’s writing pursuits came at the expense of his studies, causing him to be placed on academic probation. In 1917, Fitzgerald pivoted, dropping out of Princeton to join the Army. During that winter. He was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, under the command of Dwight D. Eisenhower, future United States President and General of the Army, whom he intensely disliked.
Worried that he could die in the War without ever publishing anything, Fitzgerald hastily wrote The Romantic Egotist in the weeks before reporting for duty—and, although Scribners rejected it, the reviewer praised Fitzgerald’s writing and encouraged him to resubmit the novel after further revisions. Fitzgerald would later regret not serving in combat, as detailed in his short story “I Didn’t Get Over”
In 1918, Fitzgerald was commissioned a second lieutenant and dispatched to Camp Sheridan near Montgomery, Alabama, serving with the 45th and 67th Infantry Regiments.
While at a local country club, Fitzgerald met and fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the youngest daughter of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Anthony D. Sayre. They began a courtship, but were briefly interrupted in October when he was summoned north.
He thought he would be sent to France, but ended up assigned to Camp Mills, Long Island. While stationed there, the Armistice with Germany was signed. He then returned to the base near Montgomery and began meeting Zelda again.
Together again, they embarked on what he would later call “sexual recklessness,” and by December, they were inseparable. In what became a lifetime practice, Fitzgerald relied on Zelda for literary inspiration, going so far as to plagiarize her diary while revising his first novel.
Post World War I
After he left the army February, he relocated to New York City, where he unsuccessfully begged each of the city editors of the seven newspapers for a job. He then turned to a career in advertising, hopeful that it would be lucrative enough to persuade Zelda to marry him. Fitzgerald wrote to Zelda frequently, and by March 1920, he had sent Zelda his mother’s ring, and the two had become engaged.
Zelda broke off the engagement and Fitzgerald returned to his parents’ house at 599 Summit Avenue, on Cathedral Hill, in St. Paul, as he could not support himself, to revise The Romantic Egotist, recast as This Side of Paradise, a semi-autobiographical account of Fitzgerald’s undergraduate years at Princeton.
Fitzgerald was so short of money that he took up a job repairing car roofs. His revised novel was accepted by Scribner’s in the fall of 1919 and was published on March 26, 1920 and became an instant success, selling 41,075 copies in the first year.
It launched Fitzgerald’s career as a writer and provided a steady income suitable to Zelda’s needs. They resumed their engagement and were married on April 3, 1920 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.
On Valentine’s Day in 1921, while Fitzgerald was working to finish his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, Zelda discovered she was pregnant. They decided to go to his home in St. Paul, Minnesota to have the baby. On October 26, 1921, she gave birth to their daughter and only child Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald.
The Jazz Age
In 1922, Fitzgerald also released Tales of the Jazz Age, which was composed of 11 short stories, all but two written before 1920. This collection’s title would lend itself to the eponymous time period.
Following Fitzgerald’s adaptation of his short story “The Vegetable” into a play, he and Zelda moved to Great Neck, Long Island to be near Broadway. Although he hoped that this was the beginning of a lucrative career in theater, the play’s November 1923 premiere was a critical and commercial disaster. Which meant that Fitzgerald had to tuen to short stories to pay the debt he had incurred in developing his play.
He despised his short stories, saying they were “all trash and it nearly broke my heart.”
In spring 1924, Fitzgerald and his family moved to France, where he would begin writing his third novel, which would eventually become The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald had been planning the novel since 1923, when he told his publisher Maxwell Perkins of his plans “to write something new – something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately
Upon its release, fellow writers Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, and Edith Wharton praised Fitzgerald’s latest work, but it was snubbed by most critics and audiences. The New York World ran a headline declaring “Fitzgerald’s Latest A Dud”.
For the rest of his life, The Great Gatsby experienced tepid sales. For example, in 1929 Fitzgerald only received royalties of $5.10 from the American edition and just $0.34 from the English edition. His final royalty check was for only $13.13, all of which was from Fitzgerald buying his own books. It would take many decades for the novel to gain its present acclaim and popularity.
After spending winter in Italy, the Fitzgeralds returned to France, where they would alternate between Paris and the French Riviera until 1926. Fitzgerald began writing his fourth novel, provisionally titled The Boy Who Killed His Mother, Our Type, and then The World’s Fair. ]
In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway claimed that Zelda taunted Fitzgerald over the size of his penis. After examining it in a public restroom, Hemingway told Fitzgerald “You’re perfectly fine,” assuring him that it was larger than those of statues at the Louvre.
One of the most serious rifts occurred when Zelda told him that their sex life had declined because he was “a fairy” and was likely having a homosexual affair with Hemingway. There is no evidence that either was homosexual, but Fitzgerald nonetheless decided to have sex with a prostitute to prove his heterosexuality.
In January 1927. He soon met and began an affair with the 17 year-old starlet Lois Moran. Jealous of the attention Fitzgerald gave Moran, Zelda burned her own clothing in a self destructive act. The starlet became a temporary muse for the author and he rewrote Rosemary Hoyt, one of the central characters in Tender is the Night—who had been a male in earlier drafts, to closely mirror her..
They then rented “Ellerslie”, a mansion near Wilmington, Delaware until 1929. Fitzgerald tried to continue working on his fourth novel, but by this point it had become clear that Zelda had an extreme mental illness as her behavior grew increasingly erratic. In 1930, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia..
The couple travelled to Switzerland, where she was treated at a mental clinic. They returned to America in September 1931. In February 1932, she was hospitalized at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
With the arrival of the Great Depression, many of Fitzgerald’s works were seen as elitist and materialistic. Matthew Josephson scolded Fitzgerald: “There are ever so many Americans, we recall, who can’t be drinking champagne from morning to night, can’t ever go to Princeton or Montpar-nasse or even Greenwich Village for their finishing process.”
However, Fitzgerald began to feel the effects of the Depression himself. By the mid 1930s, his popularity and fame had greatly decreased, and consequently, he had begun to suffer financially. Public demand had decreased so much for Fitzgerald’s works that by 1936, his book royalties barely amounted to $80.
The cost of his opulent lifestyle and Zelda’s medical bills quickly caught up, placing Fitzgerald in constant financial trouble. He relied on loans from his literary agent, Harold Ober, and his publisher Perkins. When Ober decided not to continue advancing money to Fitzgerald, the author severed ties with his longtime friend and agent.
Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and financial difficulties, in addition to Zelda’s mental illness, made for difficult years in Baltimore. He was hospitalized nine times at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his friend H. L. Mencken noted in a 1934 letter that “The case of F. Scott Fitzgerald has become distressing.
He is boozing in a wild manner and has become a nuisance.” In 1935, Fitzgerald wrote Perkins, admitting that alcohol was disrupting his writing, limiting his “mental speed.” From 1933 to 1937, Fitzgerald was hospitalized for alcoholism 8 times and arrested several times. Fitzgerald’s deteriorating mental state
By that year, Zelda had become extremely violent and emotionally distressed, and Fitzgerald had her placed in the Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Nearly bankrupt, Fitzgerald spent most of 1936 and 1937 living in various hotels near Asheville. His attempts to write and sell more short stories faltered. He later referred to this period of decline in his life as “The Crack-Up” in the short story.
The last time Fitzgerald saw Hemingway, saw each other was on a 1939 trip to Cuba. During this trip, Fitzgerald was assaulted when he tried to stop a cockfight and returned to the United States so intoxicated and exhausted that he was hospitalized.
Return to Hollywood
Although he reportedly found movie work degrading, Fitzgerald entered into a lucrative exclusive deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1937 that necessitated his moving to Hollywood, where he earned his highest annual income up to that point: $29,757.87. During his two years in California,
Fitzgerald rented a room at the Garden of Allah bungalow complex on Sunset Boulevard. In an effort to abstain from alcohol, Fitzgerald resorted to drinking large amounts of bottled Coca-Cola.
Completely estranged from Zelda, he began an affair with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. After a heart-attack in Schwab’s Drug Store, he was ordered by his doctor to avoid strenuous exertion. He moved in with Graham, who lived in Hollywood on North Hayworth Avenue, one block east of Fitzgerald’s apartment on North Laurel Avenue. Fitzgerald had two flights of stairs to climb to his apartment; Graham’s was on the ground floor.
At one point during their affair, Fitzgerald attempted to give her one of his books, but after visiting several bookstores, he realized that they had stopped carrying his books. D
Billy Wilder, the director, described Fitzgerald’s foray into Hollywood as like that of “a great sculptor who is hired to do a plumbing job.” Edmund Wilson and Aaron Latham later suggested that Hollywood sucked Fitzgerald’s creativity like a vampire. His failure in Hollywood pushed him to return to drinking, nearly 40 beers a day in 1939. Beginning that year,
Fitzgerald mocked himself as a Hollywood hack through the character of Pat Hobby in a sequence of 17 short stories, later collected as “The Pat Hobby Stories”, which garnered many positive reviews.
In his final year of life, Fitzgerald wrote his daughter: “I wish now I’d never relaxed or looked back, but said at the end of ‘The Great Gatsby’: I’ve found my line – from now on this comes first. This is my immediate duty – without this I am nothing.”
Illness and death
On the night of December 20, 1940, Fitzgerald and Graham attended the premiere of This Thing Called Love starring Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas. As the two were leaving the Pantages Theater, Fitzgerald experienced a dizzy spell and had trouble walking; upset, he said to Graham, “They think I am drunk, don’t they?”
The following day, as Fitzgerald ate a candy bar and made notes in his newly arrived Princeton Alumni Weekly, Graham saw him jump from his armchair, grab the mantelpiece, gasp, and fall to the floor. She ran to the manager of the building, Harry Culver. Upon entering the apartment to assist Fitzgerald, Culver stated, “I’m afraid he’s dead.” Fitzgerald had died of a heart attack, aged just 44.
The Fitzgeralds’ current grave at St. Mary’s in Maryland, inscribed with the final sentence of The Great Gatsby
Among the attendees at a visitation held at a funeral home was Dorothy Parker, who reportedly cried and murmured “the poor son-of-a-bitch”, a line from Jay Gatsby’s funeral in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. His body was transported to Bethesda, Maryland, where his funeral was attended by only thirty people; among the attendees were his only child, Scottie Fitzgerald and his editor, Maxwell Perkins.
At the time of his death, the Roman Catholic Church denied the family’s request that Fitzgerald, a non-practicing Catholic, be buried in the family plot in the Catholic Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland. Fitzgerald was instead buried at Rockville Union Cemetery. When Zelda Fitzgerald died in 1948, in a fire at the Highland Mental Hospital, she was originally buried next to him at Rockville Union. In 1975, Scottie successfully petitioned to have the earlier decision revisited, and her parents’ remains were moved to the family plot in Saint Mary’s.
|1926||Herbert Brennon||Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, and William Powell||Lost Film|
|1949||Elliott Nugent||Alan Ladd, Betty Field, and Macdonald Carey|
|1974||Jack Clayton||Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Sam Waterston|
|2013||Baz Luhrmann||Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire|
|This Side of Paradise||New York Scribners, 1920|
|The Beautifull and Damnd||New York Scribners 1922|
|The Great Gatsby||New York Scrbners, 1925|
|Tender is the Night||New York Scribners, 1934||A revised version prepared by Malcolm Cowley|
was published posthumously in 1951
|The Last Tycoon||New Yoek Scribners, 1941||Unfinished; compiled and published posthumously;|
first published as The Last Tycoon
Short Story Collections
|Flappers and Philosophers||New York Scribners, 1920||8 short stories|
|Tales of the Jazz Age||New York Scribners, 1922||11 short stories|
|All the Sad Young Men||New York Scribners, 1926||9 short stories|
|Taps at Reveille||New York Scribners, 1935||18 short stories|
|The Stories of F Scott Fitzgerald||New York Scribners, 1951||28 short stories, 10 not previously collected, 4 sets of editorisl notes|
|Babylon Revisited and Other Stories||New York Scribners, 1960|
|The Pat Hobby Stories||New York Scribners, 1960||17 shot stories|
|The Apprentice Fiction of F Scott Fitzgerald||New York Scribners, 1965||16 early stories|
|The Basil and Josephine Stories||New York Scribners, 1973||14 short Stories|
|The Price Was High, the last uncollected stories||New York Scribners, 1979||50 short stories with individual editorial notes|
|The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald||New York Scribners, 1989||all available in earlier collections|
|I’d Die For You and other lost stories||New York Simon & Schuster, April 2017|
|The Vegtable or From President to Postman||New York Scribners, 1923||play|
|The Crack-up||New York, New Directions 1945||10 essays, selections from the notebooks, and letters|
|Afternoon of an Author||New York Scribners, 1958||13 stories and 7 essays, with individual editotial|
|Bits of Paradise||New York Scribners, 1974||11 stories by F Scott Fitzgerald and 10 stories by Zelda Fitzgerald|
|Poems 1911-1940||S. C.: Brucci Clark, 1981||25 Poems|
|Novels and Stories 1920-1922||New York: Library of America, 2000||This Side of Paradise; Flappers and Philosophers;|
The Beautiful and Damned; Tales of the Jazz Age
|Before Gatsby: The First Twenty-Six Stories||Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001||all available in earlier collections|
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