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Introduction to The Great Gatsby

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Julie Goss

on 26 March 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to The Great Gatsby

1917—placed on academic probation. Joined the army as a second lieutenant.
First novel attempt, The Romantic Egoist, is rejected
1918—met and fell in love with wealthy socialite Zelda Sayre. They became engaged.
1919--End of WWI--Fitzgerald was discharged before he had an opportunity to fight in Europe. Zelda broke off engagement due to his lack of financial success.

NOTE:
* A reoccurring theme that runs throughout Fitzgerald’s best works is that happiness and success are unattainable.
This Side of Paradise captured the hopes of success of Americans but also the fears of failure and poverty.
Some works written by
F. Scott Fitzgerald
1922--The Beautiful and the Damned
1922--Tales of the Jazz Age (short stories)
1923--The Vegetable (a play)
1925--
The Great Gatsby
– the defining novel of the 20s
1934--Tender is the Night (last finished novel)
was unpopular because it was published after the start of The Great Depression and was about people with money.
Most people did not want to read about success
and excess when they didn’t have basic necessities.
His last novel,
The Last Tycoon
, was left unfinished
Nicknames for the 1920s
The Roaring 20’s
The Jazz Age
The Flapper Era
The Aspirin Age
The Age of Wonderful Nonsense
What do these nicknames suggest about the time period?
Post WWI
Physical & Spiritual Euphoria & Freedom
Disregard for Pre-War Values
Financial Freedom:
Low interest / buying on credit
Stock market growth
Relative luxury for common people
Implications for the 1920s
This idealism led to a resurgence of belief in the “American Dream.”
“If you put work hard, you can have whatever you want (money, success, fame) even if you start with nothing.”
New Roles for Women
demanded the right to vote and to work outside the home
cut her hair into a boyish “bob”
bared her calves in the short skirts of the fashionable twenties
The 1920s
Optimism
Freedom
Celebration
The Great Gatsby
era in America
Model-T became a way of life and people could travel as never before
Mail order catalogues such as Sears came out and Americans had access to the world’s biggest stores
Hollywood was becoming a factory of the world’s daydreams; Wall Street, the world’s money mart
Americans became obsessed with the frivolous: alcohol, music, dancing, and sex
F. Scott Fitzgerald Chronology

Born Sept. 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota - full name Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
His early life was shaped by the fact that his mother’s family was wealthy while his father was unsuccessful at business; therefore, money was always an issue. He was poor but attended the best prep. schools and felt like an outsider.
Entered Princeton University in 1913 - tried out for the football team but was too small.
Wrote for the Princeton Tiger and began to write and act in plays - impressed peers this way.
Fell in love with Genevra King, a wealthy young socialite, but was rejected. He was told by her father that “poor boys don’t marry rich girls.”
1915--dropped out of Princeton
1916--returned to Princeton

1919--Worked in advertising and lived with his parents while continuing to write
1919--Wrote and submitted his novel This Side of Paradise. It was accepted by Scribner's, and it was a HUGE success.
The American Dream
Is it a promise or a myth?
 
Fitzgerald's novel both confirms and denies the American Dream.
The Great Gatsby
Historical Context, Biographical Information,
and
Reading Information
Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States, 1920 - 1933, the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages were restricted or illegal. Consumption, however, was not illegal, and there were always exceptions for medicinal and religious uses.
Question . . .
What else was going on amid the optimism and celebration of the 1920's?
Answer . . .
F. Scott Fitzgerald
and
The Jazz Age

1920 - After he achieves success, Zelda agrees to marry Fitzgerald
During the next 5-10 years, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald were at the center of Jazz Age culture and regularly appeared in gossip magazines. They were the talk of the town. What was their life like?
She was wild - some would say CRAZY.
He was an alcoholic
They partied hard.
He worked hard also.
They both had affairs but are said to have loved each other deeply.
1930—After suffering her first of many emotional breakdowns, Zelda was hospitalized in Paris. She was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
1932--As his popularity as a novelist declined, Fitzgerald began to work on movie scripts for MGM to work himself out of debt. He despised Hollywood, and despised himself for having to write “commercially.”
1932-1940--As Zelda’s mental state
worsened,the Fitzgeralds
gradually grew apart.
1940--F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack.
1940 - 1948—Zelda Fitzgerald spent the next eight years in and out of institutions and died in a fire at Highland Hospital
in Ashland, NC in 1948.
1920s Context
The Jazz Age
The 20s are also referred to as “The Jazz Age,” a term coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Jazz Age began with the end of WWI, at a time when, for the first time, the U.S. had emerged as a world power.
The Jazz Age ended with the stock market crash of 1929.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Said to be representative of the American viewpoint because:
He was one of America’s greatest dreamers.
He reflected America’s exaggerated hopes and dreams, especially The American Dream.
He was self-indulgent.
He was passionate and committed and he died doing what he loved – writing a novel, The Last Tycoon.
“Give me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
Geography of The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby: a novel of contradictions
The setting is during the time of Prohibition, yet the alcohol flows
It is the quintessential American novel, yet it was written by an ex-patriot (he wrote it in France)
The narrator claims to reserve all judgments, but he uses very judgmental language
Daisy's voice is compelling, but she doesn’t say anything of value
And, perhaps in being so contradictory, it does, in fact, represent America itself -- both then and now.
Historical Context of the 20s
Full transcript