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Fitzgerald on ‘Gatsby’

Feb 23, 2016




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The uncertainties of 1919 were over - America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. The whole golden boom was in the air - its splendid generosities, its outrageous corruptions and the tortuous death struggle of the old America in prohibition. All the stories that came into my head had a touch of disaster in them the lovely young creatures in my novels went to ruin, the diamond mountains of my short stories blew up, my millionaires were as beautiful and damned as Thomas Hardy's peasants. F. Scott Fitzgerald

1In Gatsby I selected the stuff to fit a given mood or hauntedness or whatever you might call it, rejecting in advance in Gatsby, for instance, all the ordinary material for Long Island, big crooks, adultery theme and always starting from the small focal points that impressed me my own meeting with Arnold Rothstein for instance.

The letters of F.Scott Fitzgerald Penguin 1968Fitzgerald on GatsbyFactors that contributed to the way that the novel was produced.Fitzgeralds own aims: to achieve financial success and support the extravagant lifestyle that he enjoyed with his wife. To capture the ebullience of the 1920s but to be seen also as a critic of the 1920s.To be recognised as a serious writer.The development of the American City specifically New York.The process of writing The Great Gatsby began in 1922. It was subject to many revisions as his letter to his editor in 1925 indicates. Fitzgerald wrote:

Ive brought Gatsby to lifeIve accounted for his moneyIve fixed up the two weak chapters (VI and VII)Ive improved his first party.Ive broken up his long narrative in chapter VIIIFactors affecting the way that the novel is producedThe Great American Novel? The concept was introduced by John William De Forest in 1868.American Literature was lacking in texts to claim this title Uncle Toms Cabin was thought to capture the American way of life accurately enough to claim this title. Fitzgerald felt that in writing Gatsby he was creating something that could claim this title: I want to be one of the greatest writers who ever lived, dont you?( Edmund Wilson Thoughts on being Bibliographed.) Argument against: Fitzgeralds novel is animated by and makes its impacts through a writers intensely devoted attempt to understand a portion of human experience.Gatsby , despite its brevity, illuminates the American past and present, answers the challenge of getting within its pages something of the scope and variety and dynamics of American life, the light and dark of American experience, the underside and upperside of American society. Moreover, it does so within a larger framework of human experience, invariably moving readers to the dimensions of myth that convey meaning independent of time, place and particulars of experience. The Great Gatsby and The Great American Novel Kenneth E. Eble.The story is obviously unimportantWhat ails it, fundamentally, is the plain fact that it is simply a story that Fitzgerald seems far more interested in maintaining its suspense than in getting under the skins of its people. It is not they are false; it is that they are taken too much for granted. Only Gatsby himself genuinely lives and breathes. The rest are mere marionettes often astonishingly lifelike, but nevertheless not quite alive.What gives the story distinction is something quite different from the management of the action or the handling of the characters; it is the charm and beauty of the writing.

Baltimore Evening Sun 1929

AO4 Responses to Fitzgerald through time. Review when the story was first publishedFitzgerald was viewed by the readers of Post as the writer who best represented the post-war generation of ambitious middleclass Americans wanting to enjoy the spending boom of the 1920s. The book was a commercial disappointment in 1925 it sold 23, 870 copies (In Comparison to This Side of Paradise which sold 41,075 copies in 1920)However, The Great Gatsby received some of Fitzgeralds most favourable reviews: Fitzgerald has more than matured; he has mastered his talent and gone soaring into beautiful flight, leaving behind everything dubious and tricky in his earlier work, and leaving even farther behind all the men of his own generation and most of his elders.The novel was dead in the market before the end of 1925.AO4 Responses to Fitzgerald through time: 1920s The Lost Weekend Charles Jackson 1944He took down The Great Gatsby and ran his finger over the fine green binding. Theres no such thing, he said aloud, as a flawless novel. But if there is, this is it. He nodded. The class looked and listened in complete attention, and one or two made notes People will be going back to Fitzgerald one day as they now go back to Henry James. He walked back and forth, tapping the book in his hand. Pay no attention, either, to those who care for his writing merely; who speak of the texture of his prose and other silly and borrowed and utterly meaningless phrases. True, the writing is the finest and purest, the most entertaining and most readable, that we have in America today but its the content that counts in literature Apart from his other gifts, Scott Fitzgerald has the one thing that a novelist needs: a truly seeing eye.

AO4 Responses to Fitzgerald through time: 1930s 1940s Fitzgerald was viewed by the readers of Post as the writer who best represented the post-war generation of ambitious middleclass Americans wanting to enjoy the spending boom of the 1920s. Fitzgerald was aware by the 1930s that he was no longer a literary or public celebrity.In 1933 Matthew Josephson, in an article on "The Younger Novelists," was pointing an admonitory finger at Fitzgerald :"there are ever so many Americans who can't drink champagne from morning to night, or even go to Princeton " In 1934 "Gatsby" was introduced into The Modern Library, but it was dropped in 1939 because of its poor sales. The common view of Fitzgerald was an author who had failed to achieve his potential however, his contemporaries including Dos Passos claimed that Gatsby was one of the few classic American novels.American Responses to Fitzgerald after death: My generation thought of F. Scott Fitzgerald as an age rather than as a writer, and when the economic strike of 1929 began to change the sheiks and flappers into unemployed boys or underpaid girls, we consciously and a little belligerently turned our backs on Fitzgerald. (Kazin, The man and his work.)1945, William Troy identified Gatsby as Fitzgeralds only completely successful novel. Taken From Fitzgeralds obituary: The New York Times The best of his books, the critics said, was The Great Gatsby. When it was published in 1925 this ironic tale of life on Long Island at a time when gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession (according to the exponents of Fitzgeralds school of writers), it received critical acclaim. In it Mr. Fitzgerald was at his best, which was, according to John Chamberlain, his ability to catchthe flavour of a period, the fragrance of a night, a snatch of an old song, in a phrase.Fitzgeralds death created a new perception of the writer: Fitzgerald the failure, alcoholic author and husband of a madwoman. Fitzgerald revival of the 1950s Consequence of the two novels The Disenchanted (Budd Shulberg 1950) and Far side of paradise. (Arthur Mizener 1951) Schulberg claimed he had created The new generation of readers, admirers and critics he had been hoping for in vain throughout the 1930s.Role of Ernest Heminway

AO4 Responses to Fitzgerald through time:1950s revivalThe popular image created by Schulberg of Fitzgerald as a burnt out jazz novelist was only dispelled in the late 70s and 80s. The popularity of Gatsby coincided with the rise of New Criticism a focus on the significance of themes and symbols within literature. Other novels shifted the perception of Fitzgeralds work. The Catcher in the Rye makes an intertextual link with Gatsby: The Great Gatsby. I was crazy about The Great Gatsby.Old Gatsby. Old sport. That killed me.Salingers admiration was further expressed in a letter to a friend: Re-read a lot of Scott Fitzgeralds work this week. God, I love that man. Damn fool critics are forever calling writers geniuses for their idiosyncracies [sic]Hemingway for his reticent dialogue, Wolfe for his gargantuan energy, and so on. Fitzgeralds only idiosyncrasy was his pure brilliance.Interest in Gatsby was also generated through popular culture: advertisements for the Plaza Hotel New York ( the setting of Tom and Gatsbys confrontation) featured excerpts from the novel. AO4 Responses to Fitzgerald through time:1970s to present day. Gatsbys Long ShadowThe long shadow of Jay Gatsby has faded from the lawns of West Egg, but it falls more and more deeply across the hearts and minds of each succeeding generation of American readers and writers. Like Gatsby, even the most hardheaded Americans conceive of themselves (whether correctly is not the point) as idealists whose dreams can be made true, as eternal youths whose innocence can never really be lost, as magicians who can mesmerize the world into accepting their dreams. Fitzgerald, in tapping that cultural myth, made The Great Gatsby an Americanindeed, a worldclassic, a persistent and permanent presence in American culture.

Richard AndersonThe settings of the storyWest Egg:East Egg:New York: All Three are representative of success in Capitalist society. The power of wealth to create glamour and conceal moral inadequacy.The Valley of Ashes: The underside of the other three locations in the text. Reminiscent of the Valley of the shadow of death. The home of Wilson- who is linked by language to Gatsby