A new appreciation

During Fitzgerald's lifetime and for some years afterward his reputation as a writer was in doubt. Some critics and fellow writers recognized and praised his talent, but others failed to consider him a serious writer—partly because of his dramatic way of life and also because of the sentimentality and weakness of characterization in some of his poorer stories. During the last twenty-five years, however, Fitzgerald's work has been regarded more favorably and his reputation firmly established. His excellence of style, moral awareness, and storytelling ability not only proclaim him "laureate of the jazz age" but rank him with Hemingway and Faulkner as one of the foremost modern American writers.

Reviewing the Facts

1. Why was Fitzgerald called the "laureate of the jazz age"?

2. Fitzgerald is known mainly for writing two forms of literature. What are they?

3. What are the distinguishing characteristics of Fitzgerald's novels?

4. What was the duality or "double vision" of Fitzgerald's attitude toward the soci­ety he knew? What facts in his early life contributed to this attitude?

5. What did Fitzgerald say was the real purpose of his literary work?

6. Why did Fitzgerald feel that his years at Princeton had been a failure?

7. What was Fitzgerald's attitude toward wealth?

8. What are the circumstances of Fitzgerald's friendship with Ernest Hemingway?

9. In what ways did Fitzgerald's novel, Tender Is the Night, reflect the circumstan­ces of his own life?

10. How has Fitzgerald's reputation as a writer changed during the last twenty-five years?

Using Your English in Discussion

1. In what way do you think Fitzgerald's experiences at Princeton affected his later life and his success as a writer?

2. What do you think are the similarities or differences between the American col­lege students of the 1920s and of the 1970s? between the same groups of students in your country?

3. Do you think that Nick Carraway, in The Great Gatsby, expresses Fitzgerald's own idealism? Give the reasons for your answer.

4. Nearly all the subjects, characters, and themes of Fitzgerald's writings are closely related to the events, circumstances, and ambitions of his own life. Do you know of any other writer whose works so clearly reflect his own life?

5. Do you think it is possible to be both an enthusiastic participant in and an objec­tive critic of society today?

6. Do you think that the conflicts in the society that Fitzgerald knew still exist forsome people? for all people?

7. What influence do you think Fitzgerald's wife had on his career?

8. In what ways do you think Fitzgerald was a "typical" American of his time? In

what ways do you think he was not typical?


analysis n., a division or separation of a thing into the parts or elements that compose it

bornev., carried (past participle of bear)

come to know gradually know: become acquainted with

courtesy n., good manners; polite way of acting

cynicism n., lack of belief in goodness and sincerity

damnedadj., a mild curse word, usually indicating disfavor or disapproval detachment n., the state of being apart from a situation and not involved

disillusion n., a realization that one's hopes were not based on fact

dramaticadj., exciting, extraordinary, like a play

duality n., quality of being composed of two parts

Eastn., the northeastern part of the United States

elude v., to escape from; avoid being caught by

essayn., a short piece of writing on a single subject which gives the author's

personal ideas

exuberance n., large amount of energy and spirit

frivolousadj., not serious

gaudy adj., too bright and gay

glamour n., a false charm or attraction

heroinen., a central female character in a story or play

indulgev., to allow oneself the pleasure of doing or having something

irreverencen., lack of respect

laureate n., a person honored for literary achievement

lifetimen., the whole period of a person's life

"lost generation" a name given to a group of American writers living in Europe

during the years following the First World War

Midwestern adj., belonging to the north central part of the United States

nervous breakdown severe emotional illness or disorder

objective adj.. fair: not favorable to one more than to another

perceptiveadj., quick to see and understand

potential adj., possible but not yet real or fully used

prep school(preparatory school) n., a private school for preparing students to enter college

prototypen., an original model or pattern

psychiatristn., a medical doctor who treats mental and emotional illnesses

round n., a series of repeated actions or events

script n., the written part of a play, radio show, motion picture, etc.

sensitivityn., a keen awareness of impressions made on the mind or the senses slangn., popular language consisting of words and phrases not in standard usage sophistication n., worldly experience; artificiality; loss of naturalness and simplicity

spokesman n., a person who speaks for others

squander v., to spend wastefully

technicaladj., mechanical; relating to the rules or principles of a skill or science thriftn., careful use of money and possessions to avoid waste

tycoonn., a businessman with great wealth and power

vivacious adj., gay and energetic