From Hollywood in 1940, the year of his death, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to Maxwell Perkins, his editor at Scribner’s, that hardly any American fiction published at that time failed to show his influence. For this reason he felt that he was in some manner an original. Two years earlier he had written to Perkins that he felt neglected, that his reputation was being allowed to vanish because all his books were out of print. When Arthur Mizener’s biography appeared, in 1951, the situation was little better. Now his books have been reissued and several collections of his letters are in print as the result of a reassessment enshrining him with the giants of the 1920’s: Hemingway, Faulkner, and Wolfe. Fitzgerald wrote prophetically when he said that an author ought to write for the young people of his generation, the forthcoming critics of the next, and the teachers of generations.
The years between 1925 and 1929 had a stunning effect upon American fiction with the publication of THE GREAT GATSBY, THE SUN ALSO RISES, A FAREWELL TO ARMS, THE SOUND AND THE FURY, and LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL. Also in this decade appeared Eliot’s THE WASTE LAND; one may sense the influence of this thematically visionary poem in THE GREAT GATSBY. With Hemingway and Wolfe, Fitzgerald recognized an essential affinity: the attempt to grasp the same feel of an interval in time and place, shown in people. Our picture of...
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