Tuesday, March 1, 2011

(For ABC Wednesday, Writer's Island and Sunday Scribblings)
“G” is for “Gatsby.”
I’d like to tell you a story.
This happened way back in the twenties, soon after the end of World War I.
A young fellow named Scott fell in love with a girl, Zelda Sayre, whom he had met when he was stationed at an army post near her home town.

Scott was crazy about Zelda; she was the “golden girl” as far as he was concerned and he was determined to marry her.
Trouble was, Zelda was a wealthy, socially prominent young woman, living in Montgomery, Alabama, a part of the country where family and social position – and money – were extremely important, and it seemed that Scott had little to offer.
Back in his home in St. Paul, Minnesota, he was a raw, lower-middle-class youth who had a mediocre job in an advertising agency, making a fast twenty dollars a week; his father had just been fired from Procter and Gamble, and there was no family fortune. In addition, Scott hadn’t even finished college.

What Scott did have was this: he was a Writer.
So he came up with a Plan A. (There was no Plan B.) He would write a novel, and if it was a success perhaps the Sayre family, and Zelda, would take him seriously.
Rather a slim hope, it would seem. But, quite unbelievably, it happened.

His novel, “This Side of Paradise,” wasn’t just successful; it was a blockbuster. Three days after publication, the entire first printing was sold out. Seeing this, and realizing what this meant for his future, on the fourth day after publication he sent a wire to Zelda to come north to New York; they were going to be married.

She did, and they were. They embarked on an extravagant life as young celebrities.
Overnight, the twenty-four year old F Scott Fitzgerald had become the most famous literary figure in the country. He wrote a number of other works, but his masterpiece, as any college English major could tell you, was “The Great Gatsby.”
After the War to End All Wars, and we know how that turned out, the country had Prohibition, which made millionaires out of bootleggers – and that was Jay Gatsby's secret.
Fitzgerald was an autobiographical writer. You can see his own recent history in the story of Gatsby, an outsider who longed to be accepted by the “old money” society of New York’s Long Island. (In the book, Gatsby has fallen in love with a golden girl whom he met when he was stationed in an army post near her home town.)

His big mistake was that he thought he could spend his way into that society – one way was by throwing big expensive parties in his big expensive home – though in reality they would never accept him.
This remarkable book evokes not only the ambiance of the jazz-age search for the American dream of wealth and happiness, but also the larger questions of fading traditional values.

Later Fitzgerald was to appropriate his wife Zelda's life in what turned out to be its tragic dimensions for use in his stories and novels.

To put it briefly, “The Great Gatsby” is now regarded around the world as an American literary classic. It’s still a best-seller; half a million copies are sold every year. It is listed second on the Modern Library’s list of 100 Best Novels of the Twentieth Century.
By the way, Baz Luhrmann’s film of the Gatsby story – in 3D, yet – will start shooting in Australia, in August, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby.


Gigi Ann said...

I guess I am the only person in the world who didn't care for this book or movie with Robert Redford. He was the only reason I watched the movie. Still didn't like it. I doubt I will go see it in 3D, I'm getting to old for those kind of movies anyway. Two time around was enough for me. But liked the background history of the story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Have I ever told you I always enjoy your ABC posts, I just don't always comment.

??? said...

I must admit I have never read the Great Gatsby, but I've been fascinated by Scoot and Zelda for some time now. It's just such a great story.
Why is it that everything has to be 3D now. There's no need for that in The Great Gatsby (and a lot of other movies). I guess I'm lucky The King's Speech was plain old 2D.

Catherine Denton said...

I can't wait to see that movie! I enjoyed reading the story behind it all.
My Blog

Sylvia K said...

Marvelous post for the G Day and a great read for any day. Hope your week is going well!

ABC Team

EG CameraGirl said...

I read The Great Gatsby many, many years ago. I think it's time to reread it!

Suz said...

Oh boy do I appreciate this magpie
For a writer's workshop this summer
I have to read paradise and gatsby
and if we have time a biography of him
You have wet my appetite to reread this writer

chiccoreal said...

Dear Berowne: Remembering the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby. Thoroughly enjoyed the book and the "green light" symbol. As a 20's scoial-climbing status seeker the book uncovers a multitude of sins in the seemingless age of inocence. Everything was style with moral exposure. I rember our Grade 11 English class had a garden party with lots of off-white romantic suits for the guys and sequinned flapper dresses for the saucy yet elegant ladies. Always the essential cucumber sandwiches (without crusts) and The Charleston...so absolutely DIVINE dahling!

Cildemer said...

Great choice for G day!
I've read The Great Gatsby a few years ago and I loved it.

Have a great week****

Roger Owen Green said...

yes, you really can't buy your way in.

3D - yuck!

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Tumblewords: said...

I've always thought of it as a promise of something that didn't deliver...nice post!

Hildred said...

A long time since I've read The Great Gatsby but it is a novel that has stayed with me, - and also the film, although the version I saw was not the one with Robert Redford, but the earlier 1949 version I think. Certainly a classic. A tragic life for Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald.

Kay L. Davies said...

No! In 3D? You're kidding. Why? I can't even begin to imagine it, although that might be because I've never seen a 3D movie in my life. Didn't want to when I was a kid, and haven't wanted to since 3D came back again. But "Gatsby" just might make me change my mind.
A very interesting post for G day, Berowne. I really enjoyed it. Loved the line "She did, and they were." Good one.
But 3D? Whodathunkit?
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Leslie: said...

I love this book and it was one of my student's first choice for her independent study this year. However, someone else grabbed it before she had a chance and so now she's doing "East of Eden" another classic and my personal favourite. I do hope my student will read The Great Gatsby on her own, though!


Rinkly Rimes said...

I love all the information about 'Gatsby'. His wife looks rather a hard lady, though.

Everyday Goddess said...

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors, and his personal history is quite a story in itself.

Leo D. as Gatsby? I'm still devoted to Robert Redford in the role, but I guess I'll be open minded. I do like Leo, he is very good. Who will be Daisy? 3D?

Berowne said...

E. Goddess: "Who will be Daisy?"
Carey Mulligan.

signed...bkm said...

I read Zelda's biography....what an amazing woman...and couple filled with so much life and adventure and lots of liquor of course...but what stories they left us with...she a writer in her own right....I am looking forward to the new movie....bkm

Berowne said...

bkm: "I am looking forward to the new movie."
Yes, but what I've seen of Luhrmann's work means I'm looking forward with -- trepidation. :-)

Kristen Haskell said...

I can actually see Leo in that movie. Great post Berowne, very interesting.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Would I be showing my illiteracy by admitting I never read the book, and didn't see the movie? With your post, though, I'm inspired to do both, and have a very interesting reference point! Thank you, Berowne!


Pat said...

Fitzgerald was one of my first writing heroes and I have always been in thrall to his and Zelda's tragic story. I think their lives would have been so different had they never met. They were lethal to each other.
In the States in the seventies I met my sister's friend whose brother was at college with Scott. I was hoping for stories about him but all he would say was, 'Scott was overly emotional.

Sienna said...

I love, love, love Gatsby....I have even managed to get my gangsters to enjoy it as well. Thanks for reminding me what I want to do next in my classroom. As usual, lovely and informative post. Congrats.
BTW the pics were FAB....love those finger waves....

Berowne said...

Cherry: "As usual, lovely and informative post. Congrats."
What a fine comment -- thanks.

Berowne said...

Kristen H.: "Great post, Berowne."
Great comment, Kristen. :-)

rebecca said...

I think I'll go in search of that literary classic that is gathering dust amongst my shelves and give it a go one more time. Isn't it funny that you can read a book several times and each time get something new out of it? One of my favorites.

RJ Clarken said...

Thanks for this post! I was (and am) a fan of Fitzgerald's work, and have read several books about Scott and Zelda. Theirs was a sad, tragic story, but still fascinating to hear about, to this day,

I didn't know they were doing a remake of Gatsby (although I don't know why I should be surprised about this) but I wish it weren't 3D.

In any event - on account of your post, I now must go and dig up my copy of the book so I can reread it,

Jae Rose said...

Another Great post! You have a gift for passing on information and enthusiasm..Jae

Tracey said...

Great post & good piece of history. We had to read the Great Gatsby in high school; when I first started it, I hated it, but ended up loving it. And the movie - I'll look @ Redford all day long, any day! :-)

Unknown said...

Loved what I learned here. Thank you!

Elaine said...

Thanks for the history. You are really a great story teller. Nice post!

Altonian said...

Interesting and readable potted biogaphy.

Understanding Alice said...

I like many others read the great gatzby at school, but i never knew this history - how interesting!

Berowne said...

Old Altonian: "Interesting and readable potted biogaphy."
"Potted"? I'll have you know I was sold cober when I wrote it. :-)

Berowne said...

My sincere thanks to Understanding Alice, Elaine, Kim N., Tracey, jaerose and lightverse for some encouraging comments.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I've heard, of course, of this story, but have never read it. Now I think I must! You've convinced me it's a tale I would like, as I much prefer autobiographical reading.

Mike Patrick said...

Loved your background/review, haven't read the book and didn't care much for the movie. Maybe it was more of a chick flick.
From what I’ve seen so far, 3-D may be an abomination.

Old Egg said...

Really great post on Scott Fitzgerald. I too have reservations with Luhrmann and DiCaprio. But who knows they both might finally get it all together and produce a masterpiece.

Elizabeth said...

Read Gatsby a very long time ago, but there are colorful images from it that remain in my mind. I really like the manner in which you weave story, real people, and history together. I always enjoy your posts,


Berowne said...

Elizabeth: "I always enjoy your posts." oldegg: "Really great post on Scott Fitzgerald."
Thanks, friends -- encouraging comments.

Vinay Leo R. said...

I've not read "The Great Gatsby", Berowne.. but it sounds a must read I think. Will get it soon :) nice post..

Leo @ I Rhyme Without Reason

Gloria said...

It's been oh so many years since I read that book! This was a fascinating write....I really enjoyed it!

Lilibeth said...

I read the Gatsby years ago in high school and didn't remember much about it; I certainly didn't remember that it was somewhat autobiographical. I enjoyed reading this today.

California Girl said...

After reading the most recent posts in chronological order, I am to become a "follower" because you, sir, are a man after my own heart. Why? Shakespeare, old movies & F. Scott, personal favorites all. Yes, I'm an English Lit major who favored 20th century American Lit as well.

I've read "Gatsby" so many times and each new reading brings new insight. Amazing book. I've read many bios on he & Zelda. I prefer the Nancy Milford bio of Zelda which I read in college. That was so well done.

I'll be back.

Kateeyhn said...

Play Free Online Dirt-BikeFree Flash Dirt-Bike Arcade Games. Welcome to MoFunZone, we are THE source for free onlineincluding but not limited to defense(also tower defense games), arcade, action games, shockwave. Play Max Dirt Bike, and more Sports Games! Max Games. Max Dirt Bike. A physics bike game You must use balance and skill to. Be careful the road ahead is full of surprises! Dirt Bike Cool Maths Games. Sort By Tag "dirt bike"

Blog designed by Blogger Boutique using Christy Skagg's "A Little Bit of That" kit.