F. Scott Fitzgerald

June 14, 2006

fitzgerald.jpg
(1896-1940)

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
Irish American jazz age novelist and short story writer
Self-styled spokesman of the “Lost Generation
Themes of youth, despair, age; remarkable emotional honesty; heroes (handsome, confident, and doomed) blaze brilliantly before exploding, and his heroines are typically beautiful and alluring

The Great Gatsby (1925)

Fitzgerald’s masterpiece
Nonlinear representation of time, 1st person limited point of view,reported points of view of secondary characters
Themes of time, appearance vs reality, failure of the American dream, symbolism

Quotations:

“When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.  Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction- Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.  If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.. . This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the ‘creative temperament’ – it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which is not likely I shall ever find again.  No-Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”

“A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling- and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.”

“‘And I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'”

“I was withing and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

“He smiled understandingly- much more than understandingly.  It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.  It faced- or seemed to face- the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.  It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

“I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye.  I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter into their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove.  Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness.  At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others- poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner- young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”

“…I felt an unpleasantness in the air, a pervading harshness that hadn’t been there before.  Or perhaps I had merely grown used to it, grown to accept West Egg as a world complete in itself, with its own standards and its own great figures, second to nothing because it had no consciousness of being so, and now I was looking at it again, through Daisy’s eyes.  It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”

“‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.'”

“Human sympathy has its limits and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind.”

“‘What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?'”

“If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.  He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.”

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning-
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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