(FRANCIS) SCOTT (KEY) FITZGERALD (American) (1896 – 1940)
The American version of the myth of the Dying God flowered with the Jazz age he helped to create and then wilted in obscurity till his death. His books are light hearted adolescent day dreams brilliantly observed with increasingly tragic overtones. “It was fun when we all believed the same things. It was more fun to think we were all young to live together or die together. And none of us anticipated this great loneliness.” ‘This Side of Paradise’ (1920) was a bestseller, his stories include some of his best work (‘The Rich Boy’, ‘Babylon Revisited’). ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925) is one of the most perfect American threnodies on lost youth and the Prohibition era. Then followed the slow decline for which his wife Zelda was partly responsible. “She wanted me to work too much for her and not enough for my dream…. I struggled on…… till my heart collapsed and all I cared about was drink and forgetting”. (To his daughter in 1938). In those last years he wrote his near masterpiece ‘Tender is the Night’, faithfully depicting the break-up of his marriage and was at work on an unfinished Hollywood novel ‘The Last Tycoon’. His wife was burned to death in a fire in an mental home in 1947. His blend of irony regret and lyrical enjoyment, Gatsby’s ‘neat sad waltz’ has appealed to many other writers.