F. Scott Fitzgerald: Writer, Alcoholic, Unhappy Man

Who’s F. Scott? He was one of the best selling authors of the 1920’s. I’ve read 2 of his four and a half novels twice: THE GREAT GATSBY and TENDER IS THE NIGHT. I’ve also read many of his short stories.

Current readers might enjoy him as much as I have. In his day what he wrote was shocking. Now it seems quite tame and conservative. I enjoy noticing the change in culture from then to now.

Scott and Zelda Thayer, who he married in 1920 were “wild ones.” They were icons of the Roaring Twenties. Lots of partying, lots of boozing. They both died young from the roles they played, Scott from alcohol, Zelda in a private psychiatric sanitarium.

Theirs was a competitive marriage, at least for Zelda. She did manage to publish one book.

Scott used his own experience, especially the ups, downs, and outs of his marriage in both his novels and short stories. TENDER IS THE NIGHT highly autobiographical and is my favorite. By the time it was published in 1934, the great depression had hit. The Fitzgeralds and their lifestyle were no longer icons. Scott’s popularity with critics has gone through several cycles, but he’s now far enough in the past to have a secure place as one of the best writers of the twentieth century.

His many short stories were written for quick money, since their life style repeatedly broke their bank, even shortly after big writing paydays. The celebrations cost too much.

He was born in St. Paul, MN, Zelda was from Birmingham, AL. I feel sorry for both of them. They tried so hard to have fun. They may have thought they did. I see their lives as a living hell. Trying just isn’t fun.

Without his editor/agent Maxwell Perkins, Scott would not have succeeded as a writer. Perkins picked him up when Scott was still going to Princeton and stuck with him. He not only edited, he helped Scott and many other writers with their finances and private lives.

Scott’s first novel, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, was published in 1920. He finished it while in the Army during WW1. Most criticism regards THE GREAT GATSBY as Scott’s best novel. I suggest reading both and making up your own mind.

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