Conversations with F. Scott Fitzgerald

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University Press of Mississippi, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 133 pages
Literary Criticism -- Biography -->

Conversations with F. Scott Fitzgerald assembles over thirty interviews with one of America's greatest novelists, the author of The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night.

Although most of these are not standard interviews in the modern sense, the quotes from Fitzgerald and the contemporary journalistic reaction to him reveal much about his writing techniques, artistic wisdom, and life. Editors Matthew J. Bruccoli, the foremost Fitzgerald scholar, and Judith S. Baughman have collected the most usable and articulate pieces on Fitzgerald, including a three-part 1922 interview conducted for the St. Paul Daily News.

Fitzgerald (1896-1940) died before the authorial interview became a literary subgenre after World War II. Although Fitzgerald enjoyed his celebrity, as is clear in these pieces, he had a poor sense of public relations and provided interviewers with opportunities to trivialize him. As a result, Fitzgerald was often treated condescendingly in the press. Seven of his interviews-five printed before 1924-have flapper in their headlines. In the Jazz Age-a term Fitzgerald coined-he was regarded as a spokesman for rebellious youth, as a playboy, as an authority on sex and marriage, as an expert on Prohibition, and as an immensely popular writer for his work published in the Saturday Evening Post. Yet his literary ambitions were sizable and his impact on American fiction immeasurable.

Matthew J. Bruccoli is Jefferies Professor of English at the University of South Carolina. He has written or edited thirty volumes on Fitzgerald, including the standard biography, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Judith S. Baughman, who works in the department of English at the University of South Carolina, has written the F. Scott Fitzgerald volume in the Gale Study Guides series and has edited American Decades: 1920-1929.

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About the author (2004)

F(rancis) Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896. He was educated at Princeton University and served in the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1919, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. In 1920 Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre, a young woman of the upper class, and they had a daughter, Frances. Fitzgerald is regarded as one of the finest American writers of the 20th Century. His most notable work was the novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). The novel focused on the themes of the Roaring Twenties and of the loss of innocence and ethics among the nouveau riche. He also made many contributions to American literature in the form of short stories, plays, poetry, music, and letters. Ernest Hemingway, who was greatly influenced by Fitzgerald's short stories, wrote that Fitzgerald's talent was "as fine as the dust on a butterfly's wing." Yet during his lifetime Fitzgerald never had a bestselling novel and, toward the end of his life, he worked sporadically as a screenwriter at motion picture studios in Los Angeles. There he contributed to scripts for such popular films as Winter Carnival and Gone with the Wind. Fitzgerald's work is inseparable from the Roaring 20s. Berenice Bobs Her Hair and A Diamond As Big As The Ritz, are two short stories included in his collections, Tales of the Jazz Age and Flappers and Philosophers. His first novel The Beautiful and Damned was flawed but set up Fitzgerald's major themes of the fleeting nature of youthfulness and innocence, unattainable love, and middle-class aspiration for wealth and respectability, derived from his own courtship of Zelda. This Side of Paradise (1920) was Fitzgerald's first unqualified success. Tender Is the Night, a mature look at the excesses of the exuberant 20s, was published in 1934. Much of Fitzgerald's work has been adapted for film, including Tender is the Night , The Great Gatsby, and Babylon Revisited which was adapted as The Last Time I Saw Paris by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1954. The Last Tycoon, adapted by Paramount in 1976, was a work in progress when Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, California. Fitzgerald is buried in the historic St. Mary's Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland.

Matthew J. Bruccoli, Emily Brown Jefferies Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, is the leading authority on F. Scott Fitzgerald and the authors of the House of Scribner.

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