About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, February 15, 2016

F is for F Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born Sept. 24, 1896, in St. Paul Minnesota.  One of his claims to fame was his namesake (and second cousin three times removed on his father's side) Francis Scott Key who wrote the lyrics to the "Star-Spangled Banner."  After high school graduation, Fitzgerald attended Princeton University and decided to become a writer.  As a result, his academic studies suffered and he was put on probation.  He quit school and joined the army but never saw action in W.W. 1.  However, while he was in Camp Sheridan near Montgomery, Alabama, he met and fell in love with an 18-year-old girl named Zelda Sayre, whom he married in 1920.  They had one daughter, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, born in 1921.

Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, was largely autobiographical and dealt with love and greed.  Almost overnight, the 24-year-old Fitzgerald became one of the country's most promising writers.  He embraced his overnight celebrity and ended up becoming quite the playboy, although his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, "helped to cement his status as one of the great chroniclers and satirists of the culture of wealth, extravagance and ambition that emerged during the affluent 1920s—what became known as the Jazz Age."

In 1924, Fitzgerald moved to France where he wrote what would become his greatest novel, The Great Gatsby."  In this book he critiques materialism, love, and the American Dream.  Even though the book was received well, it didn't really reach its true stature until the 1950's and 60's as "the definitive portrait of the "Roaring Twenties," as well as one of the greatest American novels ever written."

Fitzgerald's later years were a progressive decline into alcoholism and writer's block.  His wife suffered from mental illness and had to be hospitalized.  However, in 1934, Fitzgerald published his fourth novel, Tender is the Night, which was a commercial failure, yet has become one of the "great American novels."  He began work on a fifth novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, but succumbed to a heart attack when he was only half finished in December, 1940.

Although Fitzgerald died believing himself to be a failure, his works, in particular The Great Gatsby, went on to become one of the greatest American novels and is now required reading for most high school students in the United States and Canada. 

And this is where I insert my personal note of having taught and still teach the novel The Great Gatsby. The first time I read it, I was overwhelmed at the way Fitzgerald has with words.  He describes so many things with such colourful (and I really do mean colourful) language.  There is the green light at the end of the dock of Daisy's place, the grey of the Valley of Ashes, the white clothes Daisy wears, along with gold, silver, blue, pink, red, and yellow.  In the latest movie version of the story, starring Leonardo dicaprio, the colours are brilliant and obvious. dicaprio states that he remembers "reading the book in high school and always thinking of Gatsby as this strong, stoic, suave, mysterious man who had everything under control.  But when I read it as an adult I realised he is a hollow man, a shell of a person trying to find meaning, who is not completely in touch with reality.  He’s a great tragedy and the story’s a great tragedy, too."
Personally, I'd like to go back to view the original movie that starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow so that I can compare and contrast the two movies.  I saw it so long ago and remember not really liking it. However, now that I've dissected the book in order to help my students, I'd like to take a second look.

If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it.  If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend the latest version. 

With thanks to the fascinating Denise Nesbitt, the creator of ABC Wednesday, and to the faithful Roger, our administrator.   Also, fervent thanks to the formidable team of ABCWers who facilitate the commentaries by flying over to leave flashy thanks to everyone for participating.

25 comments:

Melody Steenkamp said...

In 1978 a song was populair in The Netherlands...with a singer with the same name, so my first thought was "heej did she write about him???"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBDxKxp1eDg

No you did not, you've introduced a person to me i didn't knnow ;-)



Have a nice abc-day / - week
♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

Janis said...

I too recall watching the movie (Redford version)long ago shortly after reading the book(even longer ago!) but, I have not taken time to watch the new edition of the movie, maybe I will put it in my que and take a look soon.
Thanks for the great post and encouragement to see a film I missed!

Rajesh said...

Wonderful information about the personality. I am yet to read his novel.

Nora said...

I loved the movie with Redford in it. It is interesting to read the historical info and to learn more about it. Leslie, so nice to see your blog again. cheers.

EG CameraGirl said...

I've read the book a couple of times and I too recommend it. ;)) I have not seen the movies, though.

Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

I was reared in Mexico, so "The Great Gatsby" was not in my required reading list. Although I'm familiar with it, I've never even watched either of the movies. You've got me intrigued, so I'm adding it to my list of must reads. Blessings, my friend!

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful post for F ~ and I loved the book The Great Gatsby and saw both movies ~ both are very good but my favorite is the earlier version with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald was a consummate writer ~ only wish he had experienced appreciation before he died ~ but like so many writers ahead of their time ~ it can be sad ~

Wishing you a happy week ~ ^_^

ps. Crocuses have been coming up for several weeks but snow buried them but probably protected them as now it is rainy and in the 40's. Only sign of spring in MA

photowannabe said...

The Great Gatsby was never required reading for us way back in the Dark Ages.
I might have to give it a go now though.

ellen b said...

Don't tell but I haven't read F.Scott Fitzgerald. It wasn't something my high school required. I'll have to put the movie and book on my list! Have a good week Leslie!

Roger Owen Green said...

I have seen neither movie!
Nice info.

ROG, ABCW

Hildred said...

Have read and re-read the book. Liked the first movie better than the second....

Photo Cache said...

Oh woe is me. Never read the book, never seen the movie.

PhenoMenon, ABC Wednesday said...

I like the first line. "Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will"


I believe the greatest pleasure comes from doing things the world says you cannot do :)

PhenoMenon, ABC Wednesday
http://phenomenal-cuisines.throodalookingglass.com/2016/02/13/review-of-yauatcha/

Gattina said...

I haven't read the book or seen the film unfortunately. What a sad end he and his wife had !

Shooting Parrots said...

One of my favoutite books and a reminder that it is time to re-read it.

Reader Wil said...

I read "the Great Catsby"long ago, but I have to read it again. I didn't put it on my list when I had to do an examination for my English certificate in order to teach at highschools.
Thanks for your information, Leslie!
Wil, ABCW Team

K V V S MURTHY said...

Great info..!

Lea said...

After we read "The Great Gatsby," our teacher showed us the movie. I liked the movie better than the book. Did you know there is a book about Fitzgerald's wife? "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald" by Therese Anne Fowler. I enjoyed it very much. (But I'm not sure how much of it is fact and how much fiction).

Trubes said...

Most interesting information Leslie, although I haven't read the book or seen the movies, I do have a copy of the later one that daughter Astrid got for me ages ago, I still haven't got around to watching it. However after reading your synopsis I shall watch it and report back to you asap...

Love Di
ABCW team.

fredamans said...

A favorite literary great of mine!

jeannettestgermain said...

Interesting that your opinion in high school changed so much about his personality when you were an adult!

Joy said...

I've not seen any of the films but did enjoy Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris where Zelda and F Scott featured in the milieu of 1920s Paris.

Kate said...

You did a phenomenal job of telling Fitzgerald's history. He is "one of our boys, you Know" and I did an entire theme on his childhood homes and life several years ago on my blog, and I think that I should probably do it again. He attended St. Paul Academy prior to college, which is the school in which I taught for 30 years; fun to claim him as one of ours!

Ann said...

Heartbreaking he never knew of his worth as a writer. I have not seen either movie but might do so now.
Ann

Suzy said...

I've seen the 1974 movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow Will have to see Leonardo DiCaprio's version. Thanks for sharing.