Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Hollywood. Section of the city of Los Angeles that is traditionally regarded as the center of the American film industry. “Hollywood” is not so much a place as it is an idea, and Fitzgerald’s novel is an attempt to understand that idea and give it flesh and form. While the novel provides details of things that characterize Southern California—for example, the primacy of automobiles and the lassitude Stahr notices in those who have lived too long in the climate—there are also social observations peculiar to the film industry. In a subculture obsessed with celebrity and success, nothing is so chilling as the specter of failure, and the ghostly figures of has-beens stalk these pages: Manny Schwartz, a former studio boss who commits suicide; a cameraman mysteriously blacklisted after someone starts a rumor that he is going blind; a faded actress, and Johnny Swanson, a has-been cowboy star. The rarefied few who are successful live in a small, closed world, huddled together against threatening forces from outside.

Stahr’s studio

Stahr’s studio. The film studio is Stahr’s true home, much more so than the house he is having built in Santa Monica or the lonely Bel Air home in which he currently is living. The studio is the place he knows better than any other, where he works and often where he sleeps, as well as the place where he meets Kathleen. Chapter 3 sketches out his typical working day at the studio; it consists of little of the “glamour” typically depicted in old Hollywood films about Hollywood. Instead, it depicts Stahr attending to his business: discussing filmmaking with a discouraged writer, acting as therapist to an impotent actor, holding a story conference with writers and...

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Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Given that this novel was left unfinished at Fitzgerald's death, being concluded by the notable author and critic (and friend of the writer)...

(The entire section is 405 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Elia Kazan directed the 1976 film interpretation of the novel. It starred Robert DeNiro as Stahr, and featured numerous Hollywood leading...

(The entire section is 83 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. A well-indexed collection of contemporary criticism on Fitzgerald. Includes an article that focuses on social statement and technique in The Last Tycoon. The novel is also discussed in considerable detail in other articles.

Ebel, Kenneth. F. Scott Fitzgerald. 1968. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1977. A good introductory reference, which includes biographical information; readings of novels, stories, and articles; and critical responses. The Last Tycoon is referred to throughout. Includes bibliography, chronology, and index.

Hook, Andrew. F. Scott Fitzgerald. London: Edward Arnold, 1992. An accessible reading of Fitzgerald and his work that refers to criticism and to scholarship. The chapter on The Last Tycoon draws from Fitzgerald’s letters, in which he discusses his intentions and plans for the novel. Includes a chronology, bibliography, and index.

Hook, Andrew. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin’s, 2002. Part of the Literary Lives series. Concise rather than thorough, but with some interesting details.

Lee, A. Robert, ed. Scott Fitzgerald: The Promises of Life. London: Vision, 1989. The article on The Last Tycoon argues that the novel is memorable not because it is a faithful portrait of the motion-picture industry at a particular time, but because of the way Fitzgerald uses this material to explore relationships among creative individuals, industry, and society.

Seiters, Dan. Image Patterns in the Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1986. In his discussion of The Last Tycoon, Seiters offers a detailed analysis of such images as water, decay, transportation, communication, and the contrast between light and dark.