This Side Of Paradise Great Gatsby

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The Cambridge Introduction to

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Although F. Scott Fitzgerald remains one of the most recognizable literary figures of the twentieth century, his legendary life – including his tempestuous romance with his wife and muse Zelda – continues to overshadow his art. However glamorous his image as the poet laureate of the 1920s, he was first and foremost a great writer with a gift for fluid, elegant prose. This introduction reminds readers why Fitzgerald deserves his preeminent place in literary history. It discusses not only his best-known works, The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tender Is the Night (1934), but the full scope of his output, including his other novels and his short stories. This
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A non-chronological approach, by contrast, allows us to assess his texts according to their own criteria rather than that of his best-known work. It discourages us from reading his debut novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), for the greatness it might foreshadow instead of achieve, for example, and to rediscover a story like “Family in the Wind” (1932) that is neglected simply because it does not reinforce the legend. Organizing by category instead of timeline has the additional benefit of highlighting the continuity of authorial interests. It invites us to compare, for example, Jay Gatsby to Monroe Stahr, the hero of Fitzgerald’s final, uncompleted novel, The Last Tycoon (1941), two characters not often discussed in the same breath simply because fifteen years separate their conception.2 My views on Fitzgerald reflect the influence of several mentors to whom I am indebted: Ruth Prigozy, Jackson R. Bryer, J. Gerald Kennedy, Scott Donaldson, Ronald Berman, Milton R. Stern, Linda Wagner-Martin, James L. W. West III, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. Special thanks as well to James H. Meredith, William Blazek, Gail D. Sinclair, Cathy W. Barks, Heidi Kunz, Michael K. Glenday, Susan Wanlass, and many, many more; the editorial board of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Review; the board of …show more content…
Such obstacles demonstrate why teachers can never presume Fitzgerald’s importance; classroom discussions must recognize student likes and dislikes in order to transcend them. Otherwise, the experience of reading will never rise above the drudgery of an assignment. An essential issue for debate within this dialogue, I would further add, is the meaning of literary relevance itself. As I often admit to classes, I am not always certain that I know the line between trying to interest them in Fitzgerald and pandering to their interests. I talk openly of how, while I want to facilitate emotional connections with his work, I also hope to challenge the criteria determining students’ personal likes and dislikes – much as learning from the reasons for their ambivalence toward him teaches me to interrogate mine. One of my favorite initial reactions to The Great Gatsby provides an excellent entry into this discussion: “I couldn’t get into it,” a class member will say, by which he or she usually means, “This work had no personal relevance to me.” Classes are sometimes taken aback by my standard response: “Why should a work have to be personally relevant to you to be meaningful? Might there not be things worth learning about Fitzgerald and his place in American literature that have no direct bearing on your interests?” My question is as useful as it is provocative because it allows us to debate the pros and cons of personal

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