Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography

Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography

Jeffrey Meyers

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0062316958

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Scott Fitzgerald, a romantic and tragic figure who embodied the decades between the two world wars, was a writer who took his material almost entirely from his life. Despite his early success with The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald battled against failure and disappointment.

This book, by the acclaimed biographer of Hemingway, is the first to analyze frankly the meaning as well as the events of Fitzgerald's life and to illuminate the recurrent patterns that reveal his inner self. Meyers emphasizes Fitzgerald's alcoholism, Zelda's illnesses and her doctors, Fitzgerald's love affairs both before and after her breakdown, and his wide-ranging friendships, from the polo star Tommy Hitchcock to the Hollywood executive Irving Thalberg. His writer friends included Ring Lardner, John Dos Passos, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, and Dorothy Parker. His friend and lifelong hero, Ernest Hemingway, was a harsh critic of both his behavior and his novels, but Fitzgerald accepted this with remarkable humility. Meyers portrays the volatile connection between these two writers and Fitzgerald's marriage to the schizophrenic Zelda with insight and poignancy. Meyers also discusses Fitzgerald's fascinating relationship with his daughter, Scottie. Exercising a fine critical balance, he details Fitzgerald's weaknesses but ultimately reveals a man capable of fierce loyalty and great moral courage.

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would provide the necessary unity. Fitzgerald was moved by the knowledge that Thalberg had a damaged heart and would probably die young. In mid-December 1931, about a month after he arrived in Hollywood for the second time, Fitzgerald was invited to join a group of distinguished guests at the house of Thalberg and his actress wife, Norma Shearer. Fitzgerald’s awareness of what was at stake made him nervous. Bolstered by drink and reverting to behavior that had once endeared him to others (he had

miraculously remembered to put on again when he left. Wilson’s brilliant wife, Mary McCarthy, was astonished by Fitzgerald’s colossal ignorance, found him boring and was struck by Wilson’s arrogant condescension toward his old friend. Fitzgerald seemed to find this quite normal and, after this meeting, resumed his youthful role as Wilson’s disciple. “Believe me, Bunny,” he wrote, stressing as always Wilson’s superior intellect, “it meant more to me than it could possibly have meant to you to see

program and a television show. She outlived Scottie by two years, and died rich and famous in Florida in 1988. Four years later her daughter published a soppy autobiography, One of the Family, which corrected some of the mythologizing of Beloved Infidel and revealed that Wendy was the illegitimate daughter of the Oxford philosopher A. J. Ayer, with whom Sheilah had an unlikely affair a few months after Scott’s death. Fitzgerald’s short life was in many ways a tragic one. He was a legend in his

than a brief fling on the beach. His transfer to Hyères (where the Fitzgeralds had begun the summer) put an end to their relations. But Zelda, more emotionally involved than Jozan, was deeply hurt by his rejection. When Jozan abandoned her, she tried to kill herself with an overdose of sleeping pills. Honoria Murphy remembers a disturbance one night at the Hôtel du Cap. Scott sought help from her parents, and Zelda had to be walked up and down in the hallway and kept awake until the effect of the

recover the Renault he and Zelda had abandoned on the way to Paris. Under the heading “Most Pleasant Trips” in his Notebooks, Scott listed “Auto Ernest and I North.” And in June 1925 Hemingway told Perkins: “Scott Fitzgerald is living here now and we see quite a lot of him. We had a great trip together driving his car up from Lyon through the Côte d’Or.” Thirty years later, in A Moveable Feast, Hemingway, who had no tolerance for weakness or for behavior he considered unmanly, gave a radically

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