Scott Fitzgerald: Between Exquisite Literature and Schizophrenia

Mustique Magazine 162

Francis Scott Fitzgerald He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896. As a young man, he showed a peculiar personality, the product of a combination of sentimentality and a lust for power. He studied at Newman School and later moved to Princeton. In college he uncovered humorous faculties and incisive writing. He reflected his literary talent in various local publications, and composed musical comedies, premiered at the Triangle Club.

Fear knocked on his door with the same insistence as vocation. He was summoned to intervene in the First World War. He joined the ranks of combatants although the battle front should never have been exposed. He was an infantry lieutenant and field support to General John A. Ryan.

Almost nineteen months of arduous and sustained training enabled him to defeat the enemy; However, after waiting hours at the embarkation port, he never got on the ship. «In that terrifying place, carrying the gas mask, the steel helmet and canned food, I felt that I was traveling to my death. Since then I have always suffered from non-combatant neurosis, in the form of ferocious nightmares ».

In the insane drunkenness of the causeless celebration, he discovered a supreme attraction: the blonde and made-up women, who shuffled around in search of the man who would ensure their future. Those suspicious women became the protagonists of his first works, which alerted the publishing sector. From that moment on, Francis Scott Fitzgerald never stopped writing..

In 1920, at the age of 24, after marathon weeks of excesses and festivities, he wrote his first novel, On this side of paradise. Sales multiplied with a viral effect and the consequence was evident: thousands of dollars and the immediate recognition of literary critics and readers.

The money gave him the ticket he needed to get on the lineage train. He dealt with the powerful who leaned their legs on oak desks. He frequented private dances, and there he met Zelda, daughter of the judge of the Supreme Court of Alabama, beautiful and writer.

When Fitzgerald proposed to Zelda, the writer’s friends spoke up forcefully: they detailed the reasons for the dangerousness of the decision. However, a letter from Fitzgerald himself has been preserved, addressed to Isabelle, a friend from college:

«No personality as strong as Zelda’s could go without receiving criticism and, as you say, she is not above reproach. I always knew that. No young woman who gets angry in public, who frankly enjoys telling shocking stories, who constantly smokes, and who claims that she has kissed thousands of men and intends to kiss thousands more, can be considered beyond reproach, even when she is above. But Isabelle, I fell in love with her bravery, her sincerity, and her passionate self-respect; and those are the things that I would believe even if the whole world preferred to suspect that she is not what she should be. Although of course the real reason, Isabelle, is that I love her and that’s the beginning and the end of it all. You are still Catholic; but zelda is the only god i have left».

In the 1920s, the Fitzgerald couple quickly climbed the rungs of popularity. Young, rich, smart, funny. Words that made up the articles written by the harassing press. The praise made the couple the prototype of the “American dream.”

Scott and Zelda exaggerated the parties and drunkenness. The corollary of the lack of control appeared gradually; they were thrown out of numerous hotels and Zelda threw herself unhinged into the waters of the Union Square fountain, New York‘s historic site.

Husband and wife Fitzgerald, icons of American youth, admired for getting what all the people wanted. A daughter, maids, success, money and fame. But, the perfect life shell began to erode. They became prey to their egos, fed uncontrollably for years and years. Jealousy and competition flourished within the relationship. Zelda aborted a child, criticized Scott in public, and cheated on him in Paris.

The media scandal took on global dimensions. Those who had reached heaven, were going through hell. The conjectures circulated in variety and quantity. Many critics singled out Scott as the executioner of the marital bond. The insatiable desire to be a millionaire, the inordinate eagerness to squander money in order to compete with great fortunes.

The writer reflected his suffering in the novel On this side of paradise.

But Ernest Hemingway, known to them, showed a reverse point of view. According to the Nobel Prize in Literature, Scott’s success upset Zelda. Blinded by envy, she encouraged her husband to have fun and throw away dollars; and thus prevented him from concentrating on his literary career.

Faced with the testimony of such a renowned author, Zelda defended herself: “Scott, you were leaving me more and more alone, and although you blamed the department or the servants or me, you know that the real reason you couldn’t work was because you left every night, you were sick and drank constantly.

In some love lapse, a momentary breakup, Scott sent a letter to Sheila, his lover:

«I want to die, Sheila, in my own way. I used to have my daughter and my poor lost Zelda. Now I have seen your image everywhere for more than two years. Let me remind you until the end, that it is very close. You’re the best. Vouchers for yourself. You are too much for a neurotic tubercular who can only be jealous and mean and wicked. I’m going to spend my last time with you, even though you won’t be here. It won’t be long. I would like to leave you something more of me. You can keep the first chapter of the novel and the outline. I have no money but it could be worth something … I absolutely and definitely love you».

He lived with her and died at her home in the last month of 1940.

Despite the mental daze from the abusive party and secret marital hell, Fitzgerald produced four volumes of narratives: Flappers and philosophers (1920), Tales of the jazz age (1922), All the sad men (1926), and then Taps at Reveille (1935). Stories accepted and published in Saturday Evening Post, American Mercury and Harpers.

The damned and the beautiful (1922) was the novel that preceded his masterpieces: The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tender is the night (1934).

The huge acceptance of The Great Gatsby, crowned Scott Fitzgerald as the mouthpiece of the “lost generation,” a group of notable writers (Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Steimbeck, and others) who lived in Paris until the 1930s depression.

Just as attractive as The Great Gatsby turned out Tender is the night. He diagrammed a psychoanalyst character, Dick Driver, in order to put his real-life experiences on paper. For example, an altercation in Rome in 1924; he fought with drunkards and ended up in jail.

Said: “Most of what has happened to me is in my novels and my stories, that is, all the parts that can go to press».

Scott Fitzgerald was a man who successfully mitigated the demonology of his life. He left a written legacy of great literary wealth. He imprinted on the leaves his real wishes, his unusual charm, and his slow journey towards misfortune for having chosen as his wife a lethal woman, built on envy and diagnosed as schizophrenic.