The Great Gatsby: Contextual knowledge
F. Scott Fitzgerald (FSF)
September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940
Born into an upper-middle-class Catholic family of Irish and English descent, whom he was bought up by in New York In 1908, the family returned to Minnesota, when his father was fired from Procter & Gamble, where Father Sigourney Fay encouraged FSF’s writing talent FSF went on to study at Princeton, where his writing took priority leading to him dropping out and join the U.S. Army Fearful he may die unfulfilled FSF reeled off a hasty novel (The Romantic Egotist); though rejected, the reviewer noted its originality and encouraged future submissions Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Camp Sherdian in Alabama where he met, at a country club, and fell in love with Zelda Sayre (FSF was never deployed) Zelda Sayre: daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court justice and “the golden girl”, in Fitzgerald’s terms, of Montgomery youth society Upon discharge he moved to NYC to launch a career in advertising, to try and become rich enough to convince Zelda to marry him (he lived in a single room on Manhattan’s west side) Zelda accepted his marriage proposal, but after some time and despite working at an advertising firm and writing short stories, he was unable to convince her that he would be able to support her, leading her to break off the engagement 1919: the revision of The Romantic Egoist, a semi-autobiographical of his Princeton years, This Side of Paradise was accepted by Scribner’s; leading to FSF and Zelda’s engagement to resume Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald, their daughter and only child, was born in October 1921 ‘The Jazz Age’ (a nuance coined by FSF) was the most influential decade for FSF, notably his excursions to Europe, particularly to Paris and the French Riviera; became friends with the Parisian expatriate Americans, notably Ernest Hemingway (who deemed Zelda “insane” and claimed she “encouraged her husband to drink so as to distract [him] from his work on his novel”) Only FSF’s first novel sold well enough to support the couple’s decadent ‘celebrity lifestyle’ in NYC; Zelda’s medical bills (she was diagnosed with schizophrenia in ’30) and FSF’s financial troubles lead to being in constant debt from his literary agent, Harold Ober Zelda was hospitilized in Maryland in ’32, FSF lived here working on a book which was supposedly based on “Fitzgerald's problems with his wife, the corrosive effects of wealth and a decadent lifestyle, his own egoism and self-confidence, and his continuing alcoholism” Zelda died in ’48 in a fire at the Highland Mental Hospital in North Carolina FSF had been an alcoholic since his college days, becoming notorious in the 20s for heavy drinking. He is also suspected of having had tuberculosis; in the late 30s he had two heart attacks, the last of which was fatal Among the attendants 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; his body was transported to Maryland and his funeral was attended by 20/30 in Bethesda FSF was a member of ‘the Lost Generation’ as was T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway- young people who came out of World War I disillusioned and cynical about the world, mainly living in Paris and writing novels and short stories expressing their resentment towards the materialism and individualism that was rampant during this era The American Dream and American Values
National ethos of the USA, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work; James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth For many immigrants, the Statue of Liberty was their first view of the United States, signifying...
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