Happy 116th Birthday F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald wrote four novels: “This Side of Paradise” (1920), “The Beautiful and Damned” (1922), “The Great Gatsby” (1925), and “Tender Is the Night” (1934). His fifth novel, “The Love of the Last Tycoon,” was unfinished upon his death in 1940 and published posthumously.
Fitzgerald - along with fellow authors Ernest Hemingway and T.S. Eliot - captured in his writing the disillusionment of the “Lost Generation,” the hordes of young men returning from the horrors of war and facing issues of morality as they came of age post-WWI. Fitzgerald’s novels and short stories celebrate and critique the loose freedoms of the Jazz Age and the era’s eventual fallout into the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Fitzgerald’s own life was riddled with personal struggles. He battled alcoholism his entire life, and the many complications in his marriage to Zelda Fitzgerald became the subject of public gossip. “The Beautiful and Damned” and “Tender Is the Night” are believed to have been semi-autobiographical of their marriage woes.
Fitzgerald also faced financial troubles throughout his career, forcing him to write commercial stories for Hollywood production companies. “The Love of the Last Tycoon” explores his complicated relationship with Hollywood and reveals his self-doubt: that he was no longer an author, but simply a writer.
His legacy can be found in the works of later authors such as J.D. Salinger, Richard Yates, and Budd Schulberg. The Modern Library places both “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender Is the Night” on its list of the greatest English-language novels of the 20th century. “The Great Gatsby” comes in second after James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”
Fitzgerald's themes of strife-ridden love, greed, and disenchantment still resonate in readers today, and the impact of his work grows as people continue to struggle with sorting out their morals in a world of decadence and materialism.
Top 10 Fitzgerald Quotes:
- That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.
- Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.
- He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. – "The Great Gatsby"
- People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or philosopher – a Roosevelt, a Tolstoy, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, then the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It’s the surest path to obscurity. – "This Side of Paradise"
- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. – "The Great Gatsby," closing lines
- The victor belongs to the spoils. – "The Beautiful and Damned"
- Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life. – "The Beautiful and Damned"
- Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure. – "Tender is the Night"
- There are no second acts in American lives. – "The Love of the Last Tycoon"
- Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a revery of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken… – "This Side of Paradise"