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Francis Scott Fitzgerald
The Voice of the
Jazz Age
The Early Years
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Scott Fitzgerald was
born September 24,
1896 in St. Paul,
Minnesota
His father sold furniture
His mother brought a
small inheritance to the
family
Fitzgerald’s birthplace
The Early Years
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Scott’s father was an unsuccessful businessman
The family lived above their means, largely on his
mother’s inherited income
Scott was sent to expensive, private boarding schools
Scott was aware that his family was not as wealthy as
his classmates’ families
Scott was disliked by his peers – he was considered to
be arrogant
Princeton
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Scott’s natural talents allowed
him to enter Princeton
While there, he neglected his
academics
He concentrated only on
drama and literature
He withdrew in 1917, short of
graduation
The War Years
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Scott joined the army
air corps
Scott was stationed in
Montgomery, Alabama
The War Years
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In Montgomery, Scott,
along with countless
other young officers, fell
in love with Zelda Sayre
Zelda was spoiled,
adventurous, and
flirtatious
The War Years
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Scott and Zelda fell in
love
Scott, while waiting to
go overseas, realized
his desire to write
He penned The
Romantic Egotist
It was about a young
man and his time at
Princeton
The War Years
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Scott sent his novel to
the famous publishing
house, Scribner’s
It was rejected, but
caught the eye of
Maxwell Perkins
Perkins was a well
known editor at
Scribner’s
Maxwell Perkins
The War Years
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Scott proposed to Zelda
Although she loved
Scott, she turned him
down
She was unwilling to
marry a penniless army
pilot
At the war’s end, Scott
left Zelda and the army
The Emerging Writer
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Scott moved to New
York City
He continued to submit
his writing
He was rejected time
after time (over 122)
He was captivated by
the vibrancy of New
York City
Times Square - 1920
The Emerging Writer
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Dejected and rejected,
he returned home to St.
Paul
He rewrote The
Romantic Egotist
His revisions followed
Maxwell Perkins advice
He titled his revision
This Side of Paradise
The Emerging Writer
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Maxwell Perkins and
Scribner’s published
This Side of Paradise
It captured the mood of
young people in post
World War I America
It was an instant, huge,
national success
Fame and Fortune
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The novel was
published in April of
1920
In May of 1920 Scott
and Zelda were married
In 1919, his yearly
earnings were $879
In 1920, his yearly
earnings were $20,000
Normal average salary
was $750 per year
Fame and Fortune
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Scott and Zelda were
young, talented, rich,
and beautiful
Scott and Zelda were
the darlings of the
media
Scott and Zelda
represented the
American Dream
Fame and Fortune
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In 1921 they had a
daughter and named
her Scottie
Scott and Zelda
became international
stars
They lived in wealth
and extravagance
Scott coined the phrase
The Jazz Age
Fame and Fortune
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Scotty was sent away
to boarding schools
Scott and Zelda lived
lavishly
Scott felt forced to write
to earn money
In 1924 he penned The
Great Gatsby
Fame and Fortune
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The novel met with a
mixed critical and
popular reaction
Later, Scott would say
that he had “used up”
all of his writing talent
on the novel
It is now considered
one of the great
American novels
Fame and Fortune
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Scott and Zelda became inseparable from the Jazz
Age
They set trends by what they wore, where they
stayed, what they ate, etc.
They represented the wild, “party” decade of the
1920’s
A runaway stock market made millionaires out of
many who could then imitate Scott and Zelda’s
lifestyle
The Roaring Twenties – The Jazz Age
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Prohibition
Jazz music
Bootleggers
Flappers
Bobbed hair
Raccoon coats
Radio
Talkies
$$$$$
The Decline
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The stock market crash of
1929 sent America into the
Great Depression
Scott and Zelda, imitated
before, were now reviled
Scott and his literary works
fell out of popularity
No one wanted to be
reminded of the fun they
no longer had
The Decline
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Zelda suffered a series
of nervous breakdowns
Zelda was hospitalized
at great expense to
Scott
His loss of popularity,
his loss of talent, his
loss of his wife, his loss
of the life he knew,
drove him further into
alcoholism
The Decline
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Desperate to make a
living, America’s once
greatest writer moved
to Hollywood to write
screenplays
Scotty remained in
boarding school
Zelda remained
hospitalized
The Decline
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Zelda attacked Scott
publicly in a series of
magazine articles
Hemingway, once
Scott’s best friend,
criticized Scott in
writing
As a screenwriter, Scott
regained modest
success
The Decline
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Scott stopped drinking
Scott began working as
a writer again
He began The Last
Tycoon
He regained much of
his lost confidence
Suddenly, in 1940, he
died of a heart attack
Boarding house where Scott died
The Decline
Scottie is alive today – she
lives in California
Zelda died in a hospital
fire in 1948
FRANCIS SCOTT FITZGERALD 1896 - 1940
Additional Notes
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Scott Fitzgerald found it difficult to separate
himself from the characters in his writing
In fact, much of his writing is semiautobiographical
His writing appears to glamorize wealth – in
fact, it criticizes and condemns it
Famous Fitzgerald Quotations
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“Show me a hero and I’ll show you a
tragedy.”
“The victor belongs to the spoils.”
“I feel like I’m on a rifle range at twilight, with
no ammo, and no target.”