F. Scott Fitzgerald: biographical, literary, and critical fragments
On that hot, fateful afternoon on the trip to the city, Daisy tells Gatsby that he always looks cool, that he resembles an advertisement. And he does. In him the inward confidence expresses itself in outer surfaces. He does not wear a mask, he becomes one. The inner self is expressed in the creation of an ideal role, and there is no distance between facade and self. When his dream world is shattered, Gatsby cannot experience disillusionment; he simply collapses (Lindberg, 1982, 138).
I didn't want you to think I was just some nobody.
I am not a great man, but sometimes I think the impersonal and objective quality of my talent, and the sacrifices of it, in pieces, to preserve its essential value has some sort of epic grandeur.
--F. Scott Fitzgerald (Bruccoli, 1981, epigraph)
Physical description of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald was five feet eight inches tall, with blond hair, green eyes, perfect features and a smooth almost honeyed voice. He was pretty without being effeminate....A St.Paul friend recalled: "He was strikingly good-looking and when his eyes sparkled and his face shone with that powerful interior animation it was a truly exciting experience (Meyers, 1994, 26-27)."
Perhaps the most tragic element of Fitzgerald's saga was the desperate need of a first-rate writer to escape from his middle-class origins and pretend to be many of the things he was not - the war hero, the dazzling athlete, the passionate husband or lover, the intellectual author and concerned social observer (Mellow, 1984, xx).
Fitzgerald's weakness of showing off
The attractive, egoistic, socially insecure boy now revealed a crucial lifelong flaw in his character which would hurt him as a writer. He had a weakness of showing off instead of listening and observing, and was unaware of the effect he had on others. "I didn't know till 15," Fitzgerald said, "that there was anyone in the world except me, and it cost me plenty." Two of his closest friends later criticized the narcissistic self-absorption that limited Fitzgerald's understanding of other men and women (Meyers, 1994, 10).
Fitzgerald's foot phobia and fetishism
Fitzgerald's childhood phobia evolved from his subconscious "Freudian" feelings. Though revolted by his own feet, he was sexually excited by the feet of women. His fearful associations with feet--which stuck out stiffly and were strongly associated with sex--both displaced and expressed his adolescent and adult fears about his masculinity. His deep-rooted insecurity later led him to seek embarrassing reassurance, not only from his mistresses of the 1930s but also from personal friends, about the size and potency of his sexual organ (Meyers, 1994, 14).
Fitzgerald and his father and mother
Fitzgerald loved his father but could not respect him, and though he grudgingly respected his mother for running the family and keeping it solvent, he found her difficult to love (Turnbull, 1962, 28).
Gatsby's confidence and hope
If William James gives the Party of Hope its characteristic philosophy, F. Scott Fitzgerald provides its hero [Jay Gatsby] (Lindberg, 1982, 134).
Bruccoli, Matthew J.
Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
New York: Harcourt
Lindberg, Gary H. The Confidence Man in American Literature.
New York: Oxford University, 1982.
Mellow, James R. Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Scott Fitzgerald: a biography. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962.