History, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature, Writing

The Great Fitzgerald and the Banning of the Book

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned

This Day in Literature: writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota

He is one of America’s best loved authors of the 20th century. His life was marred by turbulence and tragedy, not ever really receiving the kind of recognition or status he might have liked. He was able to make a living, whether from short stories, his handful of novels, or Hollywood scripts. His life was simply brought to an end much too soon.

Fitzgerald represents America in the 1920s and the jazz age and the start of a fleeting materialism, pre-Great Depression era materialism..

He rose to fame quickly and this fame ended too soon, with his premature death in late 1940 from a heart attack.

He wrote his greatest novel, “The Great Gatsby”, when he moved from the U.S. to France in 1924-25 when the novel was published. France was surely thought to be a much more conducive environment for creativity.

His love story with Zelda is one for the ages, being refused his proposal until he could support her. He returned to her after the publication of his first novel, “This Side of Paradise”, and they were married. They had a daughter, Francis, his name sake. He went on to battle depression and alcoholism and her depression, required treatment in a mental insitution. I am highly curious about their relationship and I am sure there is much to it that is unknown, but how much of it could have just as easily been written into one of his extravagant stories?

I do not know about him like some probably do, but when I finally got to reading Gatsby last year (in preparation for the Leonardo DiCaprio film to arrive in theatres), I felt a strange thing; I had an odd sense that I was meeting Fitzgerald, or a certain version of him on screen. Leo played Gatsby, but to me he could just as easily have been Fitzgerald himself. It can’t be an accident and I am most likely not the only one to see it, likely because he put some of himself into his characters. What was autobiographical and what was purely fiction and a snapshot of the times?

I may have the unpopular opinion here and I mean no disrespect to the long-deceased writer, but the movie brought The Great Gatsby to life for me in a way that the book itself did not. I was stunned into silence by certain lines and passages in the novel, but overall the movie made a stronger impact. This is not usually the case for me.

(The movie came out before I started this blog, but I will be writing a backtracking movie review of The Great Gatsby here soon, but on this day I will focus specifically on Fitzgerald himself.)

Of course if it weren’t for F. Scott Fitzgerald, the man, there wouldn’t be any story to be brought to life by Leo and others. I can only say that his greatest novel, “The Great Gatsby”, represents a certain early decade in the century of my birth, one that seems so far in the distance for me and yet not so far as to be unimaginable.

I thank F. Scott Fitzgerald today for writing that story of grandeur and excess of the rich in 1920s society, with one mysterious man named Gatsby.

***

Also, This Week in Literature: Banned Books Week!

Out of all the books I have read or hope to read I don’t believe many or any of which are considered banned books. I would be interested in hearing thoughts on this from anyone else.

I know the issue of censorship is a complex one. I also know how lucky I am to live in Canada, a place where I am free to read whatever the hell I want. I know too that if a book is controversial enough I can’t say I would be so open, but the need for a week like this is intriguing to me. I hope to investigate it further in future years.

Have you read many “banned books” or how do you feel about the term or the act of banning any type of literature?

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