Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

     Francis  Scott  Key  Fitzgerald,  one of  the  most outstanding
American  writers of  the  lost generation,  was  born  in  St. Paul,
Minnesota, in  the  family  of  unsuccessful  businessman. Yet  the
money, inherited  from  Fitzgeralds  grandfarther, a  wealthy gro-
cer, enabled  him  to  attend  Princeton,  a  university  for  well  to
do  Americans. The  cult of  success, popular  at  Princeton, lies  at
the  basis of  Fitzgerald dual attitude  to  the  rich. Influenced  by  the
 spirit of  competition  ruling  at  the  University, he  tried  to join
the  most  fashionable  and  respectable students clubs, enjoying  their
carefree, aristocratic,  idle  atmosphere. He  was fascinated by the
independence, privileges and  elegance  that money gave. Money gave style
and ease and beauty. Poverty was mean, gray and narrow. It is much  later
that he  found  out  the falseness  of  his  belief.
     Fitzgerald  left  Princeton  without  a degree  because  of  illness
and poor grades. However, his literary career started  at  the University.
He  wrote  pieces  for  the  The Tiger,  the  university
magazine,  and  contributed  texts  to  several  campus  variety  shows.
     In 1917,  he  joined  the  army  as  a  second  lieutenant. All  his
life  he  regretted  the  fact  that  he  spent  his  time  in  service  in
American  training  camps  and  was  never  sent  to  the  war  in Europe.
     His  major  novels  appeared  from  1920  to  1934:  This  side of
Paradise  (1920) ,  The  Beautiful  and  Damned  (1922) , The Great
Gatsby  (1925)  and   Tender is the Night  (1934). Fitzgeralds  best
stories  have  been  collected  in  four  volumes:
 Flappers  and  Philosophers   (1920),   Tales of Jazz Age (1922),
All  the  Sad  Young  Men (1926)  and  Taps  at  Reveille (1925).
       The  main  theme  of  almost  all  Fitzgeralds  fiction  is  the
attraction  and  the  corrupting  force  of  money. Once  he  said  to
Hemingway ,  The  very  rich  are  different  from  you  and  me. And
when  Hemingway  made  a  remark , Yes,  they  have  more money ,  he
did  not  understand  the  joke. He  thought  that  they were a special
glamorous  race  and  only gradually,  moving  from  one  painful
revelation  to  another,  as  his  work progressed,  he found  out  their
corruption,  inhumanity,  spiritual emptiness  and  futility. He  found  it
 out  together  with  his heroes  who  are  largely  autobiographical.
      Fitzgerald  is  the  first  American  author  to  portray  the  lost
generation,  a  generation,  for  whom  all  the  battles  have  been
fought and all the gods were dead. The  young  generation  has
no  ideals  to  uphold  against  the  corruption  of  the  rich. They  are
empty  people  afraid  of  poverty  and  idolizing  richness, trying  to
fill  their  spiritual  void  with  all  kinds  of  wild entertainments.

                      The  Great  Gatsby

      Fitzgeralds  best  work  The  Great  Gatsby  tells   the  life
story  of  Jay  Gatsby,  the  son  of  poor  farmer,  who  falls  in love
with  a  rich  and  beautiful  girl  Daisy  Fay  who  answers his  love
while  his  uniform  conceals  for  a  time  his  poverty. When  the  war
is  over, she  marries  the  rich  and  elegant  Tom Buchanan. Gatsby
devotes   his  whole  life  to  obtaining  money and  social  position  to
make  himself  worthy  of  Daisy,  though the  only  road  open  to  him
is  bootlegging  and  dealing  in dubious  stocks.
      When  later  he  meets  Daisy  again,  she  is  impressed  by rumours
 of  his  incredibly  large  fortune,  his  mysterious  origin, his  rich
mansion  and  his  gorgeous  and  fashionable  parties and makes him
believe  she would  leave Tom. Yet once , driving Jay  back  from  New
York  to  Long  Island  in  his  car,  she  runs  over  and  kills  Myrtle
 Wilson,  her  husbands  vulgar mistress. Myrtles  husband,  whom  Tom
has  persuaded  that Gatsby  was  driving  the  car,  follows   Jay  and
shoots  him. Daisy,  having  learned  about  Gatsbys  dubious  source  of
income,  deserts  him  even  before  his  death,  notwithstan-
ding  the  fact  that  Gatsby  gallantly  takes  the  blame  of  Myrtles
death  upon  himself.
       Gatsbys  fanatic  attempt  to  reach  his  dreams  is  contrasted
to   the  disillusioned  drifting  life  of  the  cynical  members  of
upper  society  who  do  not  know  what  to  do   this afternoon, the
day  after  that  and  the  next  thirty  years  ,   and  whose existence
with  wild  parties  and  vulgar  merriment  is compared to  the  terrible
grey    valley  of  ashes   with  the  sordid  eyes  of  an  oculists
advertising  sign  watching  the  gaudy  show. Fitzgerald  stresses  that
Gatsbys  romantic dreams  of  the  vast possibilities  for  happiness  on
 the  fresh  green  breast  of  the New  World   no  longer  correspond
to  reality .
       The  device  of  the  intelligent  and  sympathetic  observer  at
the  center  of  the  novel  allowed  the  author  gradually  to  expose
the  moral  corruption  behind  the  false  structure  of upper  of  Gatsby
 class  respectability  and  splendour,  at  the same  time  the  stature
of  Gatsby  gradually  growing  and achieving  almost  poetic  elevation.
Satire  in  the  portrayal  of  the   empty  pleasures  of  the  rich  is
combined  with  lyrical atmosphere  enveloping  Gatsbys  romantic  dream.
       Thus,  if  Dreiser  was  the  scientist  dissecting  vast  cross-
sections  of  American  society  with  his  social  observations,
Fitzgerald   was  the  chronicler  of  its  moral  atmosphere.

Francis  Scott



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