Francis Scott Fitzgerald biography

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Francis Scott Fitzgerald biography

American writer of novels and short stories that epitomized the mood and manners of the 1920s—the Jazz Age, as he called it.
Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St Paul, Minnesota, and sent to local Roman Catholic boarding schools. At Princeton University he mostly ignored formal study, instead receiving his education from writers and critics, such as Edmund Wilson, who remained his lifelong friend. In 1917 he left Princeton to take an army commission, and in training camps he revised the first draft of his novel originally entitled “The Romantic Egoist”, but published as This Side of Paradise (1920). While at a camp in Alabama, he fell in love with 18-year-old Zelda Sayre, who, as the archetypal flapper, was to become as integral a part of Fitzgerald's fiction as he was.
This Side of Paradise, published in the spring of 1920, made Fitzgerald rich, or rich enough at least to marry the high-living Zelda. In this autobiographical novel, the young, disillusioned post-war generation found mirrored their shattered dreams and empty, irresolute lives. His next novel, The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), a mood piece chronicling the anxieties and dissipations of a rich couple, proved somewhat less popular. His short stories, however, were in great demand. They paid for his and Zelda's extravagant hotel-society lifestyle. Of his more than 150 stories, he chose 46 to appear in four books: Flappers and Philosophers (1920), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), All the Sad Young Men (1926), and Taps at Reveille (1935).
In 1924 the Fitzgeralds left their Long Island home for the French Riviera, not to return permanently to the United States until 1931. In five months he completed The Great Gatsby (1925), a sensitive, satiric fable of the pursuit of success and the collapse of the American dream. Although it is generally regarded as his masterpiece, Gatsby sold poorly, thus accelerating the disintegration of his personal life. Despite Zelda's slide into insanity (she was hospitalized periodically from 1930 to her death in 1948) and his into alcoholism, he continued to write, mostly for magazines. It was not until 1934 that his fourth novel appeared. Tender is the Night was a thinly disguised, almost confessional story of his life with Zelda.

Its poor reception led to his own breakdown, recorded in his essays collected by Edmund Wilson in The Crack-Up (1945).
Fitzgerald recovered sufficiently to become a screenwriter in Hollywood in 1937, an experience that inspired his final and most mature novel, The Last Tycoon (1941). Although it remained unfinished at his death in Hollywood on December 21, 1940, the book's brilliance prompted critics to re-evaluate Fitzgerald's talent and eventually to recognize him as one of the finest American writers of the 20th century.

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