The extravagant living made possible by such success, however, took its toll.
Constantly globe-trotting living at various times in several different cities in Italy, France, Switzerland, and eight of the United States , the Fitzgeralds tried in vain to escape or at least seek respite from Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental illness. Zelda suffered several breakdowns in both her physical and mental health, and sought treatment in and out of clinics from until her death due to a fire at Highland Hospital in North Carolina in Zelda's mental illness, the subject of Fitzgerald's fourth novel, "Tender is the Night," had a debilitating effect on Scott's writing.
He described his own "crack-up" in an essay that he wrote in , hopelessly in debt, unable to write, nearly estranged from his wife and daughter, and incapacitated by excessive drinking and poor physical health. Things were looking up for Fitzgerald near the end of his life - he won a contract in to write for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood and fell in love with Sheilah Graham, a movie columnist.
He had started writing again - scripts, short-stories, and the first draft of a new novel about Hollywood - when he suffered a heart attack and died in at the age of 44, a failure in his own mind.
Scott Fitzgerald, Author, Dies at 44
Most commonly recognized only as an extravagant drunk, who epitomized the excesses of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald's work did not earn the credibility and recognition it holds today until years after his death. This quote perfectly illustrates Zelda Fitzgerald's lifelong struggle to create her own artistic identity. Born in in Montgomery, Alabama, she entered a world that was just starting to consider the possibility that women might have the right to be independent citizens capable of making their own decisions. The youngest of six children, her parents raised Zelda as a free-spirited, imaginative and thoroughly spoiled little girl.
By the age of eighteen, when she met F.
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Scott Fitzgerald at one of the many parties she attended, she embodied the quintessential southern belle. A constant stream of passionate and argumentative love letters punctuated the period of their engagement while Scott worked in Manhattan and Zelda remained at her parents' home in Montgomery. For Zelda, marriage represented a new lease on life, the only way out of her small-town existence as someone's daughter, without any rights of her own. For a year, Scott struggled unsuccessfully to make his fortune in the advertising business, but Zelda grew tired of waiting.
F Scott Fitzgerald
When he professed that he could not be successful without her by his side and proposed, she broke the engagement because she felt too much pressure. She insisted that he find success first on his own. His first novel made Scott rich within the year, and Zelda married him a week after its publication. As his wife, she embarked on a new life as a flapper - a freethinking woman with the world at her disposal. She was a huge influence on his writing, providing much of the material for his novels and short stories throughout their engagement and marriage.
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Scott frequently quoted her and her letters directly, using her words as the voice for several of his female characters. Zelda bore her first and only child at 21, naming Scottie after her husband. By , Zelda's influence on Scott's writing had become less positive. An affair with a French naval aviator strained their marriage, so Zelda sought fulfillment in other venues. In , she decided to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a professional ballerina, and began taking lessons in Paris from a famous dancer.
The Curious Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald | Great Writers Inspire
At the late age of 27, three years of intense ballet work eight hours a day damaged her health, and prompted her first mental breakdown, diagnosed as "nervous exhaustion", in Zelda was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, and would reside in and out of hospitals for the rest of her life. During her stay at Johns Hopkins hospital in , she wrote her first and only novel: "Save Me the Waltz.
Writing was not Zelda's only form of artistic expression - she was also a painter. She painted brilliantly colored whimsical, sometimes fantastical works of art. In following this plan, Brown connects Fitzgerald with a larger group that included the economist John Maynard Keynes and painter Pablo Picasso, among others. To do this, Brown briefly recounts Fitzgerald's youth, early loves and family life and deftly moves into telling the story of Fitzgerald's splashy entry onto the literary scene at the age of 24, when he published This Side of Paradise.
Much of it written while Fitzgerald was a Princeton student, the coming-of-age novel went into dozens of printings. The book's success convinced Fitzgerald's then-former girlfriend Zelda Sayre to marry him and embark on what would be a much written about marriage marred by her mental instability, drinking and affairs. His next novel, The Beautiful and the Damned , as well as the cover his publisher chose, suggested the marriage gave him much material. The few theatergoers who did show up opening night got a preview of Fitzgerald's criticism that his era's obsession with money and mobility trivialized those who pursued a normal quiet life.
Fitzgerald, according to Brown, expanded those notions to draw a parallel between Gatsby's search for a romantic paradise based on a vision of the past with that of the nation, both of whom were drawn further away from it by the strong currents of modernity. The novel is a tragedy of a man who dies an "ignoble death in a civilization that no longer recognized him as its own. Upon receiving Fitzgerald's manuscript, the brilliant Scribner's editor Max Perkins understood at once that the author's short book imparted of sense of eternity and contained what would take other writers three times the number of pages to convey.
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It took Fitzgerald another decade to publish another novel. Tender is the Night , which appeared in , would be his last completed novel the unfinished The Last Tycoon was published after his death in He considered Tender is the Night his best work, and Brown shares that estimation, as did Ernest Hemingway.
The general reader may be put off by occasional dull patches in Paradise Lost , endemic to academic publishing, such as the author's due diligence evaluations of the work of previous biographers, occasional obtuse passages or the deferential quotation of another writer. But those brief moments aside, the book offers a fresh and important take on the Lost Generation's most enduring scribe. Fitzgerald's work, according to Brown, raises serious questions about the unevenness of American progress, draws attention to the growing power of industrialist and financiers, and the destruction of old ideals by consumerism.
Fitzgerald was not alone in his criticism, but he raised it to an art form.
In his own most eloquent moment, David F. Brown asks readers to recall the green light at the end of Daisy's dock.
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