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F. Scott Fitzgerald - Biography

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
by Karen Bernardo

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To some extent, most writers reflect their lives and times in their works. However, few writers live their works and write their lives quite as thoroughly as did the early twentieth-century novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. His five novels and almost innumerable short stories defined his era; but they also reflected the actual way Fitzgerald lived.

Despite the fact he claimed as an ancestor Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner, F. Scott Fitzgerald was born into the upper middle class. However, his attendance at Princeton threw him into the company of some very wealthy friends, and the tremendous financial success of his early fiction made it possible for Fitzgerald and his vivacious young wife Zelda to become players in the money-soaked world of the Roaring Twenties -- an era that (largely through Fitzgerald's depictions of it) history now calls 'The Jazz Age.'

Yet in his fiction, Fitzgerald shows a strange ambivalence toward the rich. On the one hand, Fitzgerald's typical characters travel in a very trendy circle, living a hedonistic and self-centered lifestyle it takes a great deal of money to sustain; on the other, Fitzgerald presents his wealthy characters as being victims of their own dreams. He shows us in no uncertain terms that in the hard cold light of day those dreams will fade, and his awareness of this eerily predicts his own decline. But through his accurate representation of 'The Jazz Age,' Fitzgerald was able to capture the mood of a nation as few authors have ever done.

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