He also published several collections of short stories, two of which are discussed below. Today, F. Scott Fitzgerald is best remembered for his classic, The Great Gatsby, but his other novels, Tender is the Night, The Beautiful and Damned, and This Side of Paradise, are masterpieces in their own right and well worth reading.
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is considered to be Fitzgerald’s best novel. It was published in 1925 and defined the Jazz Age in the United States. It follows the narrator, Nick Caraway as he navigates New York’s social scene and meets Jay Gatsby. He learns about Gatsby’s mysterious past and his love for Daisy, Nick’s cousin. Daisy is married to another man, Tom, who is cruel and engaged in numerous affairs. The most recent is with a woman named Myrtle. As Gatsby throws lavish parties with the hope that Daisy will attend, things start to spiral out of control. Events eventually lead to Gatsby’s death and Nick returning to Minnesota.
When the book was published, it was received with good, although not great, reviews. It wasn’t until a few decades after his death that Fitzgerald’s novel was celebrated as a classic of American fiction.
Tender is the Night
Tender is the Night is the fourth novel Fitzgerald wrote during his lifetime. It was also the last he finished. The book was published in four parts in Scribner’s Magazine in 1934. Unfortunately, this novel was not as well-received as some of the author’s others. The book was written while Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were struggling with their marriage. There are many different aspects of the story that mirror events in their lives. While Fitzgerald was wetting Tender is the Night, Zelda was writing her own fictionalized version of the life the two shared in Europe.
Today, there are two different versions of the novel. The first was published in 1934, and the second appeared after Malcolm Cowley made revisions based on Fitzgerald’s notes. It was published in 1948. Before his death, Fitzgerald described Tender is the Night as his greatest accomplishment.
This Side of Paradise
This Side of Paradise was Fitzgerald’s first novel. It was published in 1920 and shot him into literary stardom. The novel was based on The Romantic Egotist, Fitzgerald’s previous iteration of the story. He had attempted to publish it earlier in his career but had failed.
It was only after This Side of Paradise was published that he had the funds to marry the woman he loved, Zelda. The novel follows the lives of several young Americans after World War I. The protagonist, Amory Blaine, attends Princeton with the conviction that he has an incredible life ahead of him. He briefly falls in love, serves in World War I, falls in love again, works for an advertising agency, and loses a lot of money. He eventually ends up homeless, wandering around New York. In the end, Amory realizes that he only knows himself, and “that is all.”
Throughout the novel, readers can find several different styles of writing. There is Fitzgerald’s classic narrative, dramatic style, and letters and poems the protagonist is meant to have written.
The Beautiful and Damned
The Beautiful and Damned was published in 1922 and tells the story of Anthony Patch. Patch, a socialite, and heir to a fortune is engaged in a complicated marriage. He has no vocation but did serve in the Army during World War I. There are several parallels between Anthony and his wife, Gloria’s, life and Fitzgerald and Zelda’s. Both hard hardships in their relationships and were engaged in a great deal of drinking and partying. Solely, the two drift apart and realize that their differences are too broad to overcome.
Throughout, Fitzgerald engages with themes of love and money. These are familiar to anyone who read his novels. The Beautiful and Damned was followed up by The Great Gatsby.
Six Tales of the Jazz Age
Six Tales of the Jazz Age was published in 1922. It includes eleven short stories and is divided into three parts. The stories were all previously published and included: “The Jelly-Bean,” “The Camel’s Back,” “May Day,” “Porcelain and Pink,” “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “Oh Russet Witch!” The two best-known stories, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” are part of the fantasy series. The latter, Fitzgerald states, was inspired by a statement Mark Twain made regarding the fact that the best part of life came at the beginning and the worst at the end.
The Last Tycoon
The Love of the Last Tycoon was Fitzgerald’s final novel. It remained unfinished by the time of his death and finished by his friend, Edmund Wilson based on notes Fitzgerald left behind. The novel follows Monroe Stahr, based on Irving Thalberg, the head of MGM. Someone Fitzgerald met while working for the company. It was published in 1941 then later republished with the name The Love of the Last Tycoon in 1993. This reworked version of the book was considerably different than the original.
Flappers and Philosophers
This collection of short stories was Fitzgerald’s first. It was published in 1920 in New York. It included the stories “The Offshore Pirate,” “The Ice Palace,” “Head and Shoulders,” “The Cut-Glass Bowl,” “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” “Benediction,” “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong,” and “The Four Fists.” In the first of this story, a woman’s boat is captured by pirates. She eventually falls for the pirate captain.
“The Ice Palace” was published the first time in The Saturday Evening Post. It references a real ice palace from the Winter Carnival in St. Paul in 1887. It follows Sally Carrol Happer as she tries to figure out what she wants in life. In “Head and Shoulders,” Fitzgerald writes about a young man who falls in love with a dancer despite his best attempts not to.