Idealism, Disillusion and Perseverance: The Life, Times and Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Kentz, Andrew W.
Collins, Michael J.
IDEALISM, DISILLUSION AND PERSEVERANCE:THE LIFE, TIMES AND STORIES OF F. SCOTT FITZGERALDAndrew W. Kentz, J.D.MALS Mentor: Michael J. Collins, Ph.D.ABSTRACTStatement of the ProblemF. Scott Fitzgerald is considered to have been a great chronicler of his American generation. Fitzgerald's lifetime spanned dramatic changes in American attitudes and fortunes. Born at the close of the Gilded Age, he grew up in the Progressive Era and reached adulthood during the first world war. His greatest success came during the 1920s economic boom. He spent his final decade struggling to survive professional and personal collapse amidst the Great Depression.While best known for his novels, Fitzgerald was a prolific author of short stories. Fitzgerald wrote short stories nearly continuously throughout his life. If Fitzgerald is representative of his generation, his short stories ought to reflect the evolving attitudes of the author and his generation of Americans as they travelled through periods of great change. The purpose of this paper is to examine Fitzgerald's short stories, his life and his times to determine the extent to which this is true.Procedure FollowedThe paper is divided into three chronological periods: Fitzgerald's youth through the war, the 1920s Jazz Age and the 1930s Depression. For each period the historical setting, Fitzgerald's personal experiences and the attitudes reflected in his stories are compared and considered. Sources for the paper include: nearly all of Fitzgerald's short stories with a particular focus on the stories he wrote as a youth and his lesser known professional stories; his autobiographical essays; biographies of Fitzgerald and others close to him; critical analyses of his work; and historical accounts of America in the early twentieth century.ConclusionsFitzgerald's attitudes mirrored the changes in America during this period. The stories he wrote in his youth reveal his sense of hope and aspiration. In the Twenties Fitzgerald enjoyed enormous success. While America experienced an extraordinary, if fragile, boom, Fitzgerald infused his stories with a sense of deep disillusion. The great chronicler of his age was revealing the hollow nature of the American promise. The author's personal and professional decline presaged the country's descent into the Great Depression. His later stories focus on perseverance and on the unglamorous yet satisfying nature of work and fulfillment of responsibility.I
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