Francis Scott Fitzgerald
He was born in Minnesota, attended the high school and then University, but he never graduated. The most important event of his personal life was the meeting with Zelda Sayre, a 17-years-old beauty from the South (Alabama). He fell in love with her, but could marry her only when he was a successful writer. She loved society and they spent enormous sums of money to give and attend parties, to go on holiday to fashionable places, to travel, to have guests. This meant Fitzgerald had to write and publish as quickly as he could. With the Great Depression, anyway, the old style of life came to an end. This caused Zelda nervous breakdowns, which turned their marriage into an unhappy and violent relationship. In 1934 she was finally diagnosed schizophrenia and sent to a mental asylum. Fitzgerald started writing screenplays for films, but he also became an alcoholic and died in 1940 of a heart attack, when he was 44.
Novels: This Side of Paradise was published in 1920 and was immediately a bestseller, making of Fitzgerald a famous novelist. It revolves around the life of the rebellious contemporary young generation and is partly autobiographical. The Great Gatsby (1925) is considered his masterpiece. Tender Is the Night (1934) is also partly autobiographic, as it tells the story of the tormented life of an American psychiatrist married to a schizophrenic wife.
Fitzgerald has been recognized as the chronicler of the Jazz Age: the rebellion of the young generation, the new fashions in clothes, physical appearance and music, the hectic social life of the rich, the indulgence in drinking and smoking, the noveau riches of the economic boom, their fortunes, made overnight, their optimism. Anyway he also portrayed the superficiality, blind optimism and illusions of the age, doomed to end tragically. A recurrent theme is the corruption of the American dream of wealth and success. The American dream was the belief that anyone could succeed in life, no matter his origin or social status, thanks to hard work and personal effort. Anyway, the moral values that were the basis of this belief were now dead, making of it a sheer pursuit of wealth and power. Linked to this theme is the impossible hope of recapturing the past, a kind of lost innocence. Another correlated theme is alienation: under the glossy surface of social life, the characters are deeply unhappy, as they are so obsessed with their personal dream that they lose touch with reality.