The turning point in F. Scott Fitzgerald's life was when he met in 1918 Zelda Sayre, herself an aspiring writer, they married in 1920. In the same year appeared Fitzgerald's first novel, "This side of paradise," in which he used material from The Romantic Egoist. Its hero, Armory Blaine, studies in Princeton, serves in WWI in France. At the end of the story he finds that his own egoism has been the cause of his unhappiness. The book gained success that the Fitzgeralds celebrated energetically in parties. Zelda danced on people's dinner tables. Fitzgerald's debts started to grow, and Zelda discovered that she was pregnant - the baby was born in 1921.
The Fitzgeralds' finances were always shaky. Scott was forced to write short stories for the Post and other magazines, and decided that it would be financially advantageous for them to return to Europe in 1924. They lived for a time on the French Riviera, where Fitzgerald continued work on The Great Gatsby. Perhaps because she was lonely while he was working - perhaps continuing her reckless pattern from her youth - Zelda began a relationship with a young French aviator, Edouard Jozan, whom they had both met at the beach. It was probably no more than an infatuation, unconsummated, but Fitzgerald was angry when he learned about it. Both of them would incorporate elements of that affair into their written works, Zelda into "Save Me the Waltz" and Scott into "The Great Gatsby" and "Tender Is the Night" where the theme of betrayal is constant. In his Notebooks, he wrote, " That September of 1924, I knew something had happened that could never be repaired."
That same summer, the Fitzgeralds met Gerald and Sara Murphy, who would become lifelong friends and would serve as models for Dick and Nicole Diver in "Tender Is the Night." The Murphys were wealthy and at their parties, the Fitzgeralds met Picasso, Cole Porter, Fernand Leger, Philip Barry, John Dos Passos and other luminaries of the arts.
In may of 1925, Fitzgerald met Ernest Hemingway in the Dingo Bar in Paris, and their relationship would be marked by conflict - from closeness and mutual support at the outset, to tension and eventual estrangement by the end of Fitzgerald's life. Fitzgerald offered Hemingway financial and artistic support.
Sending his friend checks in the early days of the friendship when Hemingway and his family needed financial help and Fitzgerald's own income from his short stories had increased substantially. But help from any quarter notoriously offended Hemingway, and their friendship suffered when he referred to Fitzgerald pityingly in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," as "Poor Scott Fitzgerald." Hurt by what he perceived as betrayal, Fitzgerald wrote to his friend, "Please lay off me in print," Ultimately Hemingway changed the name of the character to "Julian." But Hemingway's star began to rise as Fitzgerald's fell, and the two could no longer communicate as they had in the early days in Paris.
Fitzgerald worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter. Between "Tender is the night" (1934), and "The Crack-Up"(1936) Fitzgerald wrote little. In the middle thirties he had lost his illusions and believed he had not produced first-rate books.
I have cut myself off from the respect of my fellow men, but I am aware of a compensatory cirrhosis of the emotions. And because my sensitivity, my pity, no longer has direction, but fixes itself on whatever is at hand, I have become an exceptionally good fellow - much more so than when I was a good doctor." Dr. Janney in 'Family in the Wind', 1933)
In the middle thirties he had lost his illusions and believed he had not produced first-rate books. His alcoholism and Zelda's mental breakdown attracted wide publicity in the 1930s. Fitzgerald learned that each breakdown made her final recovery less likely, and his dependence on alcohol increased. Their marriage was subject to continued stress from their drinking, his tension about his work, her feelings of neglect, and their constant worry about a sufficient income (Fitzgerald, F. Scott, (1963).
He returned to Hollywood in 1937, where he met Sheilah Graham, a gossip columnist, with whom he lived for the rest of his life. Fitzgerald worked on various screenplays, but completed only one, "Three Comrades" (1938), before he was fired because of his drinking. When the young writer Budd Schulberg heard that he would cooperate with Fitzgerald in a film project, he said: "I thought he was dead." In a letter to his daughter from Hollywood in 1938 Fitzgerald revealed the "what I am doing here is the last tired effort of a man who once did something finer and better."
He began a new novel about Hollywood - posthumously published as "The Last Tycoon," and wrote short stories about a Hollywood hack writer, Pat Hobby, which were published in Esquire, by that time his main outlet for his stories. He no longer could write the kind of stories that the mass magazines wanted, and he would not have been able to survive on the money from his Esquire work.
He refused to move Zelda to a state institution or to make Scottie, his daughter, attend a private school and somehow, by borrowing, paying back, and earning money from screen-writing, he managed always to meet his responsibilities (Author not available (2002).
Writing about Hollywood-instead of writing for Hollywood-was an act of revenge. Like many a famous writer of the day, including Dorothy Parker and William Faulkner, they had ridden into Tinseltown figuring the movie factory would praise their poetry, fatten their wallets, and salvage their sinking careers. Instead, they realized that the studios had a hard, simple message for hotshot scribes, which Fitzgerald put this way in a letter to editor Maxwell Perkins: "We brought you here for your individuality, but while you're here we insist that you do everything to conceal it.'" So the literary lions scribbled away at grade-B screenplays, cringed at the rewrites, and watched glamour turn to humiliation. They bit back with Tycoon and Locust, but at the end it looked like Tinseltown had won (Author not available (1994).
The directors and scriptwriters -- both William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald were employed in Hollywood that year -- were severely restricted, moreover, by Hollywood's rigid code of self-censorship. The houses, the salaries, the acting itself were all beautifully larger than life, and all were built on silence. Given Fitzgerald's fascination with Hollywood, the release of the film version of "Three Weeks" around the time that he started working on "The Great Gatsby" would have increased the likelihood of Fitzgerald's being familiar with and alluding to the story of the Russian empress in his own novel.
In chapter 4 of "The Great Gatsby," Gatsby, talking to Nick Carraway, says that he is the son of wealthy people in the Midwest and that before the First World War. I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe - Paris, Venice, Rome - collecting jewels, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something that had happened to me long ago. (Gatsby 70)
At this point Gatsby is lying to Carraway: Gatsby's parents were actually dirt poor, and he did not go to Europe until 1917, and then as a lieutenant in the United States army. Carraway suspects that Gatsby is lying, that his phrases were so threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned "character" leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne. (70)
Gatsby then goes on to tell some genuine facts about his time in Europe, showing Carraway a medal that Gatsby was given by Montenegro, and a photograph of himself in Trinity Quad taken while he was at Oxford. Carraway's response is to think: "Then it was all true. I saw the skins of tigers flaming in his palace on the Grand Canal" (71).
In responding first negatively and then positively to Gatsby's account of his life in Europe, Carraway evokes images of tiger hunting and tiger skins; the immediate inspiration for these images is Gatsby's depiction of himself as a big game-hunting rajah. However, the appearance of the images must also owe something to the melodramatic and romantic, pre-Great War European world of Three Weeks (Brooks, Nigel (1996).
face-to-face with his own breakdown, Fitzgerald traced his drastic change of mind and mood in his letters and Crack-Up pieces. From the conviction during his amazing early success in his 20s that "life was something you dominated if you were any good." Fitzgerald, at the end of his life, came to embrace "the sense that life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat, and that the redeeming things are not 'happiness and pleasure' but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle." Abraham Lincoln was Fitzgerald's American exemplar of this "wise and tragic sense of life" he associates Monroe Stahr's commitment to lead the movie industry…