What influenced F. Scott Fitzgerald's writings?
I am not talking about just one specific book. What I am looking for is what is the main thing that influenced him.
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There were numerous influences on the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald. His unique ability to synthesize both the world around him and the artistic drive within him emerged from many influences. His modest and Midwestern background helped to create from an early age a unique perspective of wealth and the differences between yearning for it and having it. His background as a youth was typically “middle class” as his father worked as a salesman who battled through relocation and unemployment. Such an experience allowed him to experience both the impact of not having wealth and the distance from afar of those that had it.
Another powerful influence on his work was his wife, Zelda. Born to an upper class family and possessing a great deal of mental instability, Fitzgerald’s relationship with her helped expose him to the cavernous sense of emptiness that can accompany wealth. At the same time, through Zelda’s established wealth he began to understand the class based difference between “old money” and “new money,” a theme that resonates in much of his work.
Another influence on Fitzgerald’s work was the time period of the 1920s, what he would describe as the “Jazz Age.” He was able to understand and perceive the obsession with celebrity, the proliferation of mass consumption and consumerism, and the desire to be socially acceptable and contrast all of these with the toll it takes on the human psyche as well as the corroded sense of emotions that results when soulful connection is supplanted with material appropriation. If there is one phrase of his that underscores much of Fitzgerald’s work, it would be “The rich are different than you and I.”
To add to the previous answer, I do want to correct that last quote, which is actually 'Let me tell you about the very rich; they are different from you and me.' He goes on to write "They think they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves.' Fitzgerald uses an unusual first person narration to make this statement, despite the fact that this story ('The Rich Boy') is primarily written in the third person point of view. In this way, by allowing his own voice to appear in the guise of this first person narrator, Fitzgerald lets this story communicate his general perspective on this issue not only as an observer and narrator in the story, but as a writer in general. This obsession with wealth, its attainment, as well as understanding both its benefits and its difficulties, is clearly at he heart of some of Fitzgerald's most famous novels and stories, including The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Rich Boy, Crazy Sunday, and May Day, among others.
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