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Biography of Novelist Scott Fitzgerald

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    FitzgeraldF. Scott Fitzgerald is in many ways one of the most important American writersof the twentieth century. In his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Fitzgeraldepitomized the mindset of an era with the statement that his generation had,grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, and all faiths in manshaken(Fitzgerald 307). Aside from being a major literary voice of thetwenties and thirties, Fitzgerald was also among The Lost Generationsharshest and most insightful social critics. In his classic novel The GreatGatsby, Fitzgerald blatantly criticized the immorality, materialism, andhedonism which characterized the lifestyles of Americas bourgeois during thenineteen-twenties. Collectively, Fitzgeralds novels and short stories providesome of the best insight into the lifestyles of the rich during Americas mostprosperous era, while simultaneously examining major literary themes such asdisillusionment, coming of age, and the corruption of the American Dream. Thelife of F. Scott Fitzgerald is marked by as much, if not more, romanticism andtragedy than his novels. Throughout Fitzgeralds life, he unsuccessfullybattled alcoholism, depression, and himself, in a quest for both personal andliterary identity. At the age of twenty-three, Fitzgerald published his firstnovel, This Side of Paradise, to critical raves and unimaginable economicsuccess. Shortly after the publishing of this novel, Fitzgerald was able tocoerce Zelda Sayre into marriage. This marriage is manifestly the mostsignificant event of his lifeeventually, Zelda would not only expedite, butessentially, cause the personal and literary downfall of Fitzgerald. Uponmarriage, and also coinciding with the pinnacle of Fitzgeralds fame, Scottand Zelda began living a life of wasteful extravagance that was oftencharacterized by recklessly drunken behavior. In order to maintain thislifestyle, Fitzgerald was forced to put aside working on novels, and focus hiscreative efforts on penning lucrative, but by no means extraordinary, shortstories. Throughout their marriage, Zelda put constant economic, as well as,emotional strains on Fitzgerald. She encouraged his short story writing, as wellas his drinking, and was continually swaying his focus from writing tosocializing. Also, Zeldas eventual mental breakdown triggered Scotts ownseries of nervous breakdowns. Because of these factors, Zelda is oftenconsidered the prime instigator of Fitzgeralds literary and personaldeclines. Yet in spite of Zeldas overtly negative influence on Fitzgerald, hecontinued to love his wife to the day he died. Later in life, after Zelda becamementally ill, Fitzgerald clearly illustrated his unconditional love for his wifeby compromising his artistic integrity in order to write short stories tosupport her medical expenses. Aside from Zelda, two major American literaryfigures played a substantial role in Fitzgeralds life, and his personaldecline as well. On an extended trip to Europe, and at the pinnacle of his fame,Fitzgerald met and became acquainted with a then obscure fellow expatriate namedErnest Hemmingway. Throughout the course of their friendship, Hemmingway wouldbecome Fitzgeralds harshest critic, and in the eyes of Fitzgerald, his,artistic conscience(Meyers 263). The second major American literary figurewho influenced Fitzgeralds life was Edgar Allen Poe. Fitzgeralds intriguewith both the tragic and romantic elements of Poes life, as well as the manysimilarities these two men shared, may have very well facilitated his plungeinto the unforgiving abysses of alcoholism and depression. Jeffrey Meyersbiography Scott Fitzgerald provides a complete and seemingly unbiased account ofthe life of one of the most complex men in American literary history. Whereasprevious biographies tended to over-exaggerate either the romantic or tragicelements of Fitzgeralds life, Scott Fitzgerald does not in any way attempt toemphasize these aspects. Rather, this biography offers a strait-forwardinterpretation of both the life and works of Fitzgerald. It illustrates theimportance of his relationships with Zelda Sayre and Ernest Hemmingway; thementally and physically destructive influence of his alcoholism; and theparallels between his life and his writings. Through these facets, and manyothers, Meyers provides insight into Fitzgeralds life, without forcing hisown opinion of the subject upon the reader. Personally, I found Scott Fitzgeraldto be both insightful and interesting. Compared to other Fitzgerald biographiesthat I have read, Meyers biography was clearly the least biased and the moststrait-forward. In terms of literary style, I found this biography very pleasingto read. Meyers deftly wove primary quotes, his own prose, and excerpts ofFitzgeralds writing into a coherent and thought provoking portrayal of a verycomplex man. To all fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald, I recommend this biographystrongly, but to those who dont know the difference between Scott and EllaFitzgerald, I recommend this biography with reservation.

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