F. Scott Fitzgerald is famously known as the Jazz-Age writer to read and is also perhaps the eras harshest critic.
On writing, he once advised, “Don’t write and drink. It has become increasingly plain to me that the very excellent organisation of a long book or the finest perceptions and judgment in time of revision do not go well with liquor. A short story can be written on the bottle, but for a novel you need the mental speed that enables you to keep the whole pattern inside your head and ruthlessly sacrifice the sideshows … I would give anything if I hadn’t written Part III of Tender Is the Night entirely on stimulant.”
Here are 5 favourite books by him to commemorate his birthday today!
The Great Gatsby
A novel which dared Fitzgerald to confront his conflicted feelings about the roaring 20s tells a story which primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and with a passion and obsession with the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan in a setting which explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream – an era known for widespread economic prosperity, the development of jazz music, flapper culture, new technologies in communication (motion pictures, broadcast radio, recorded music) forging a genuine mass culture, and bootlegging, along with other criminal activity.
Fun fact: Many of the events in Fitzgerald’s early life are reflected throughout The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald was a young man from Minnesota, and, like the novel’s narrator, who went to Yale, he was educated at an Ivy League school, Princeton. Fitzgerald is also similar to Jay Gatsby in that he fell in love while stationed far from home in the military and fell into a life of decadence trying to prove himself to the girl he loved. Fitzgerald became a second lieutenant and was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama. There he met and fell in love with a wild 17-year-old beauty named Zelda Sayre. Zelda finally agreed to marry him, but her preference for wealth, fun, and leisure led her to delay their wedding until he could prove he was successful.
Tender Is The Night
This was the fourth and final novel completed by Fitzgerald, with the title is taken from the poem “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats. Fitzgerald considered this to be his greatest work. Although it received a lukewarm response upon release, but is now regarded as among Fitzgerald’s best books.
Fun fact: Two versions of the novel are in print. The first version, published in 1934, uses flashbacks whereas the second revised version, prepared by Fitzgerald’s friend and noted critic Malcolm Cowley on the basis of notes for a revision left by Fitzgerald, is ordered chronologically and was first published posthumously in 1948.
A large part of the story is based on the French Riviera, where sophisticated Americans holidayed in the 1920s. Here arrives a lovely young Hollywood actress, Rosemary Hoyt, who falls under the spell of the glamorous couple and embarks on a reckless affair with Dick. Fitzgerald skilfully recreates the sensual and emotional pleasures of the Divers’ life; in his capable hands, life appears as a realistically drawn Eden. And then…. comes destruction. In just a snatch of dialogue or a few lines of description, Fitzgerald can evoke the happy, troubled and perilous balance of a group of friends or the moment when a long friendship is ruined for good.
Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s devotion to each other endured for more than twenty-two years, through the highs and lows of his literary success and alcoholism, and her mental illness. In Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda, over 300 of their collected love letters show why theirs has long been heralded as one of the greatest love stories of the 20th century.
The Beautiful & Damned
This novel explores and portrays New York café society and the American Eastern elite during the Jazz Age before and after the Great War and in the early 1920s, and like his other novels, Fitzgerald’s characters in this novel too, are complex,especially with respect to marriage and intimacy.
Fun fact: It is said the relationships Fitzgerald showed generally was loosely based on his own relationship and marriage with his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
A short story about a man born into the world as an elderly person and ages backwards, going through what we know as life, in reverse. This was interesting, sad, exciting, and meant to leave the reader in awe and wonder. From an aged man, to a young man who marries, to a moody teenager and then, to a memoryless baby.