F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Born in Minnesota. Joined boarding school in New Jersey in 1911.
1913 Joined Princeton but never graduated. Enlisted in army 1917 as WWI ended.
As lieutenant in Camp Sheridan, Alabama, he fell in love with 17 year old Zelda Sayre. Zelda loved him back but delayed marrying him till he became successful.
1920 This Side of Paradise published. Its success prompts Zelda to agree to marriage.
Led a reckless life of parties while trying to maintain Zelda’s life-style.
Great Depression resulted in Zelda’s nervous breakdown and Fitzgerald’s alcoholism.
1940 dies of a heart attack at the age of 44
The Great Gatsby (1925)
“Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”
In 1922 Nick Carraway moves from Minnesota to West Egg, Long Island (in NY)
West Egg is populated by the newly rich who are prone to lavish displays of wealth, as seen in neighbor Jay Gatsby who throws lavish parties every Saturday night.
Visiting his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan (Nick’s classmate at Yale) in East Egg (populated by established upper class), he meets Jordan Baker.
Tom takes him to an apartment in NYC that he keeps for his affair with Myrtle Wilson. Nick witnesses Tom’s brutal treatment of Myrtle when he breaks her nose.
He is invited to one of Gatsby’s parties. Gatsby asks Jordan to ask Nick for a favor.
Gatsby tells Jordan that in 1917 he met Daisy and he is in love with her. He wants Nick to secure a meeting between him and Daisy. Nick agrees and an affair begins.
Tom suspects the affair, confronts the two lovers and Daisy admits her infidelity.
Tom tells her that Gatsby’s money comes from bootlegging. Daisy chooses Tom.
Meanwhile Wilson suspects his wife’s infidelity and locks her in the house. She escapes around the same time that Gatsby and Daisy, driving Tom’s car, speed across that road, hitting and killing her as a result.
Nick, Jordan and Tom come across the scene of the accident. When the car is described, Tom tells Wilson that it is his car but was driven by Gatsby.
Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy was driving but he is taking the blame.
Wilson goes into Gatsby’s house, finds him in the pool, shoots him the kills himself.
Escaping moral decay around him, Nick breaks up with Jordan and goes to Midwest.
The Jazz Age (The Roaring Twenties): (termed by Fitzgerald)
The 1920’s between end of WWI and Great Depression.
Stock market soaring. American economy rising, resulting in extreme wealth.
Traditional values dying.
Bootleggers made a fortune out of the banning of alcohol in1919.
WWI left Americans in shock, so they compensate through extravagant lives.
Fitzgerald, and through him Nick, though enthralled by the glamour of the Jazz Age, saw the hypocrisy that lies underneath it and longed for the moral values of old days.
Gatsby’s greatness in making his dream a reality is over, mirroring the sense of fatality of the era of the American dream (You succeed if only you work hard)