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The Modern Age: Literature from 1900 to 1950
Transcript of The Modern Age: Literature from 1900 to 1950
-F. Scott Fitzgerald In the middle of the first half of the 20th century, one particular author didn't just write about the world around him-his writing INFLUENCED the world around him. Few authors have the privilege of saying they have done so. The writer of "The Great Gatsby" and "The Beautiful and The Damned", F. Scott Fitzgerald, can count himself as one. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 24th, 1896, he spent 4 years at Princeton University, but never gained a degree. Although a published amateur playwright and author, he was never a prolific sutdent. So by his 5th year, in late 1917, he enlisted in the army. While in his 1st year in the military, Fitzgerald finished his first novel. At the time, his editor told him to make revisions. During that time, he got a job at an ad agency in New York City. Unfortunetly, he hated the city and his job and moved back to St. Paul, Minnesota. But not long after, he got the news he needed: his revised book, "This Side of Paradise", was being published Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 24th, 1896, he spent 4 years at Princeton University, but never gained a degree. Although a published amateur playwright and author, he was never a prolific sutdent. So by his 5th year, in late 1917, he enlisted in the army. While in his 1st year in the military, Fitzgerald finished his first novel. At the time, his editor told him to make revisions. During that time, he got a job at an ad agency in New York City. Unfortunetly, he hated the city and his job and moved back to St. Paul, Minnesota. But not long after, he got the news he needed: his revised book, "This Side of Paradise", was being published
Within the year, Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise" sold 40,000 copies and many began calling Fitzgerald-an avid partier-"the premier analyst of the American flappers".* Fitzgerald began attracting lots of attention-even from movie studios. His books and short stories appealed to both the flapper generation-who he portrayed in his books- and middle class, alike. Fitzgerald was becoming not just a celebrated author, but a celebrated trend setter, too. Fitzgerald began considering himself an expert on flappers, and a trendsetter for the culture. Yet, this was during the 1920's. The Prohibition Era, where some considered flappers to be "a new and devastating type of girl whose movements, thoughts and actions-to say nothing of the deed-have become matters of national importance".* As the 20's went on though, both Fitzgerald and flappers did not seem to leave center stage. In 1922, Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and the Damned" was published. It was followed by "The Great Gatsby" and "Tender is the Night". But as his popularity grew, the Great Depression also loomed and Fitzgerald's flapper era was coming to a close.
As the Roaring Twenties died down, Fitzgerald's demons began showing. His drinking became heavier and the economy became poorer. On October 29th, 1929, the day forever known as "Black Tuesday", shook the world. Wall Street had topped over and Fitzgerald's era had ended. The "Dirty Thirties", had begun. Fitzgerald released his next novel, "Tender is the Night" and while it had rave reviews, sales were poor. His wife since 1920, who he dedicated many of his books too, Zelda, was sick. In effort to help, he took a well paying but vanity job as a screen writer at the film company, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), in 1937. But in 1940, at 44 years old, with his last book still unfinished, he past away of a heart attack. F. Scott Fitzgerald's last novel, the appropriately named "The Last Tycoon", was still published. The man who had once inspired an entire generation still lived on. Excerpt from "The Great Gatsby"
"The relentless beating heat was beginning to confuse me and I had a bad moment there before I realized that so far his suspicions hadn't alighted on Tom. He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock made him physically sick. I stared at him and then at Tom, who had made a parellel discovery less than an hour before-and it occured to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the diffrence between the sick and the well. Wilson was so sick that he looked guilty, unforgiveably guilty-as if he had got some poor girl with child. " (118)
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Analysis: This small paragraph from the novel, "The Great Gatsby", written in 1926, explains how one character came to the realization that his wife is has been cheating on him. In the time of the 1920's, while this was common-it was still frowned upon, and generally not told to your spouse. In this paragraph, F. Scott Fitzgerald makes you feel for the character and be genuinely heartbroken for him. Moreso, he makes you wonder why he would feel so guilty-when it was his wife who committed teh crime. Fitzgerald's "The Greay Gatsby" does this through out the novel. You are always sympathetic towards characters and wondering why they would feel the way they did. "The Great Gatsby", by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is truly a well written book. Conclusion: The Modern Age In conclusion, literature was highly affected by the events of the first half of the 20th century. The events throughout the 1st 50 years impacted how authors wrote and how we interpret their work. Each event signicant to those first 50 years had an equally significant book with it. Each characteristic of the time period shined through, like fear during the 1940's in George Orwell's "1984". F. Scott Fitzgerald, a highly influential author of the time period, carried these ideas into his own books which reflected the Roaring Twenties. Literature of the early 20th century was highly affected by the Modern Age.