American Literature Hr. 1
12 May 2014
F. Scott Fitzgerald and His Novels: Parallels Between His Worlds of Fiction and Reality
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about what he knew, giving readers a perfect reflection of America in the 1920’s, considering this, his fictional work is almost autobiographical in a sense. Although his topics were limited, they were written well because of his extensive knowledge of the time period, extensive knowledge of himself, and being able to express that through his writing. In his 1933 essay “One Hundred False Starts” F. Scott Fitzgerald describes how he repeatedly drew upon his own life experiences to create beautiful novels because doing so is most effective when trying to connect with the reader. He said:
“Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves, that’s the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives. Experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.”
“Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories each time in a new disguise maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen” (p.132).
His works were limited, but powerful. Fitzgerald’s novels are inspired by feelings and personal experiences from his aspirations, alcohol, Princeton, Zelda Sayre, literature of the time period, and The Jazz Age, the phrase he coined himself. Fitzgerald’s fiction was never just an on the surface, factual autobiography; but a transformed memoir that applied many of his own experiences with emphasis on his feelings toward them. None of the protagonists of his novels Amory Blaine from This Side of Paradise, Anthony Patch from The Beautiful and the Damned, or Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, can be identified clearly as Fitzgerald, however he did give some of his own emotions, quirks, and experiences to each of them (Art Imitating). He continually emphasized that his stories had its origins in his feelings, but branched out into fiction as stated in Afternoon of an Author:
“Whether it’s something that happened twenty years ago or only yesterday, I must start out with an emotion one that’s close to me and that I can understand” (p.132)
Fitzgerald used the things that heavily influenced his life as a lens into his fictional world such as his family, friends, and favorite places, but his purpose in doing so was not to reveal actual people and events but to represent them in fabricated forms able to convey his opinions and feeling on the matters as he saw them.
This Side of Paradise is the most similar to his life of Fitzgerald’s major works, most likely because it was one of his first works ever published, and all great writers start out with what they know. Many of Amory Blaine’s experiences are taken from Fitzgerald’s life....