The Great Gatsby Background Notes for the quintessential American Novel.
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Transcript of The Great Gatsby Background Notes for the quintessential American Novel.
The Great GatsbyBackground Notesfor the quintessentialAmerican Novel
F. Scott FitzgeraldBorn 1896Catholic respectable family from St. Paul Minnesota
Shabby Genteel family:-upper middle class traditions-no real financial security
F. Scott FitzgeraldPrivate prep school education St. Paul AcademyPrinceton University in 19131. Romance with flighty, wealthy Ginerva King from Chicago (unattainable)2. Dropped out sophomore year (illness)3. Returned for his junior year4. Dropped out (for good) his senior year and took Army commission of 2nd Lieutenant November 1917 note: WWI had begun in 1914, US entered 1917
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda
F. Scott stationed in Alabama (not Europe)Met 2nd love: Zelda Sayre1. Courted in Alabama2. Wealthy debutante, courted by many men3. F. Scott wanted to marry immediately4. Zelda refused until he could demonstrate financial solvency to maintain her accustomed lifestyle5. WWI ended in 1918, so Fitzgerald heads to NYC
Fitzgerald on a Mission in NYCDecorates his apartment with rejection slips for eight monthsZelda claims love in her letters to himMoves home with parents in St. Paul to write full-timeBegan to publish and get rave commercial and academic reviews Returns to NYC
Fitzgerald Making ProgressPublished This Side of Paradise 1921
Married Zelda one week after publicationBecame golden boy of the Roaring 20s
Being the FitzgeraldsLuxury apartment in NYCAlcoholism . . . both partiessufferedParty lifestyle non-stopFamous friends, outrageousparties, unlimited fundsSpent all $ as they made itTrips to Europe (Paris regularly) with friends
The Fitzgerald MarriageDaughter, ScottiePublished The Beautiful and the Damned
Moved to Long Island
The Fitzgerald MarriageZelda writes a novel and paintsFamily moves to Europe in 1924-Zelda has affair with French aviator-Drinking escalatesFitzgerald writes The Great GatsbyPublishes garbage to support lifestyleStatus surpassed by Hemingway & TS Eliot
The Saga Continues . . F. Scott publishes Tender is the Night in 1934Zelda has three psychotic breaks-obsesses over becoming a ballerina-institutionalized (bipolar? schizophrenic?)-Expensive need: permanent placement in institution Writes for HollywoodHas affair with Sheila Graham (London)
What Would Freud Say?
The Downward SpiralWrites The Last Tycoon
No publications; literary deathNovember & December 1940: two heart attacks and death
And What of Zelda????Outlived Fitzgerald at institutionBurned to death in a 1947 firewhile committed
In a cruel twist, Fitzgeralds works were rediscovered in the 1960s
A Historical Context for GatsbyWorld War I ended in 19181. Isolationism starts2. Shift from idealism to hedonism-Trench warfare-Dread of death-Dead husbands, fathers, sons
Living for Today3. Speakeasy parties (Prohibition)4. Flappers5. Jazz music6. Mood of rebellion7. Outrageous dancing
Women in the 1920s . . . more essential context1882 Married Womans Property Act1920 19th Amendment passes
Coco Chanel eliminates the corset
More historical context . . .Amelia Earhart became famous aviator and made pants fashionable for women
Birth control was considered illegal and profane. Margaret Sanger fought for this right for all US women
And more context . . .Over 40% of US women worked, contrary to popular misconceptionsMost worked in dangerous workingconditions for little pay
More ceiling shatteringBabe Didrickson Zaharius won many gold medals in the olympics
Madame CJ Walker beganthe first African Americanbeauty supply companyand became a mogul
But still . . .Women, overall, had little social, financial, or political power. Marrying for romantic love was a luxury most women did not have. Often, marriages were arranged by parents based on finance and status.