Paradise lost A life of F. Scott Fitzgerald

David S. 1966- Brown

Book - 2017

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BIOGRAPHY/Fitzgerald, F. Scott
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2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Fitzgerald, F. Scott Due Jun 15, 2023
Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2017.
Physical Description
397 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
David S. 1966- Brown (author)
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Elizabethtown College historian Brown (Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography) writes a tight, finely observed character study of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), one of America's most cherished authors. Though remembered as an epicurean and chronicler of the Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald was, in Brown's view, a nostalgic moralist with a broad historical imagination. Like Frederick Jackson Turner, Sigmund Freud, and T. S. Eliot, he was an avid observer and critic of the modern age. Brown draws the figure of a sentimental romantic, perplexed by the collapse of pre-WWI taboos, who idealized a declining Anglo-Saxon elite to which he did not belong. Fitzgerald's early success with This Side of Paradise made him a literary superstar. An erratic private life of high living in Europe and country houses followed, complicated by his mentally unstable wife, Zelda. Soon enough came the alcoholic crash and burn in Hollywood, an affair with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, and an early heart attack. Brown deftly explores the great uncertainties of social class in Fitzgerald's day and the outsider feelings that clouded his life and psyche. Making sense of his time-bound views of African Americans and women proves more of a challenge. Carefully researched and a pleasure to read, Brown's persuasive, original account will entice Fitzgerald fans and cultural historians alike. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A fresh biography of the great American writer.Early on in this engaging portrait, Brown (History/Elizabethtown Coll.; Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing, 2009, etc.) draws our attention to two of Fitzgerald's homes: an 1842 Greek Revival mansion alongside the Delaware River and a "rambling Victorian" north of Baltimore. For Brown, they personify a key theme in Fitzgerald's life: a consistent yearning for America's glorious past. Fitzgerald was a writer who beautifully captured his own time, the flapper-filled Jazz Age, while still being deeply influenced by his patrician father. Fitzgerald's personal favorite, Tender Is the Night, with its aristocratic father, Dick Diver, "captures Fitzgerald's historical vision more completely than anything else he ever wrote." Brown draws extensively on the autobiographical aspects of Fitzgerald's novels and stories. He also downplays Fitzgerald's alcohol abuse. Despite being a lackluster student, he got into Princeton on sheer will power. He struggled there, too, but his close friendship with fellow student John Peale Bishop stimulated his love of literature and reading. After marrying Zelda Sayre, his work flourished. During the Depression, he published 65 stories in the Saturday Evening Post at $4,000 each. Shepherded by Maxwell Perkins, a young editor at Scribner, who would later become a close friend, confidant, and moneylender, Fitzgerald published This Side of Paradise closely followed by the "confessional" The Beautiful and the Damned. Brown suggests that The Great Gatsby was composed in the shadow of Joseph Conrad, and Tender Is the Night was his "masterwork." Fitzgerald died in 1940 of a heart attack in the "hideous town" of Hollywood, still working. The Last Tycoon was published a year later. A well-organized and sensitive portrait of a writer living to the fullest in his own time but always desirous of a "paradise lost." Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.