“Modernism is a deliberate philosophical and practical estrangement or divergence from the past in the arts and literature occurring especially in the course of the 20th century and taking form in any of various innovative movements and styles,” (Modernism). The 1920’s was a great example of this because of the radical changes in what was considered normal in previous times. The rapid progress of technology caused many people to flee to the cities. It was there that moral standards were also challenged and people became more care-free (1920-30. coms).
F. Scott Fitzgerald demonstrated modernism and reflected his own life in the book The Great Gatsby even though it didn’t sell very well when it was first published. F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24th, 1896 and died on December 21st, 1940 of a heart attack. Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota where his actual name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. He had one brother who was named Louise Scott Fitzgerald. His parents were Edward Fitzgerald and Mary McQuillan. “Fitzgerald’s mother was from an Irish-Catholic family that had made a small fortune in Minnesota as wholesale grocers.
His father had opened a wicker furniture business in St. Paul, and, when it failed, he took a job as a salesman for Procter & Gamble that took his family back and forth between Buffalo and Syracuse in upstate New York during the first decade of Fitzgerald’s life,” (F. Scott Fitzgerald). Until the age of 12 they lived in Buffalo, New York where Fitzgerald studied at the Holy Angels Convent and the to Nardin Academy. He showed a great interest in literature at even such a young age (Who Is F. Scott Fitzgerald? ).
However, his father later lost his job when F. Scott Fitzgerald was 12, and the family moved back to St. Paul to live off of his mother’s inheritance (F. Scott Fitzgerald). He then attended St Paul Academy where he began his writing endeavors. He wrote a detective story which was even published in the school’s newspaper. People began noticing his obvious gift of writing and began to encourage him to pursue it. Afterwards, in 1911, he attended Newman School where he met Father Sigourney Fay. He connected very well with Fitzgerald and encouraged him even more heavily to continue writing (F. Scott Fitzgerald).
Fitzgerald then went on to attend Princeton University in 1913 where he joined the famous Triangle club musicals where he wrote many scripts. However, instead of prospering, he dropped out of school because writing was taking all of his time. He was sent to fight in World War I, but not before quickly writing a novel. It was called The Romantic Egoist and it was actually rejected by the publisher even though he still encouraged him to submit more work. Fitzgerald was assigned to Camp Sheridan just outside of Montgomery, Alabama. He met a woman named Zelda Sayre here and fell in love.
He was never actually sent into battle but as soon as he was discharged he began trying to convince Zelda to marry him. He returned to St Paul, Minnesota to write his Novel This Side of Paradise. The Novel was published in 1920 and became an overnight sensation. Quickly after he became a celebrity, Zelda agreed to marry him. They eventually has one child named Frances Scott Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald). He supported himself and his family by writing short stories such as “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Camel’s Back” and “The Last of the Belles.
He went on to publish his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, but in 1925 he published his arguably best and most famous novel, The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald). The book was well received when it was written but began its peak popularity was much later. The critics of the book thought it was a genius way of displaying the time period. However, the book did not sell very much when it was published. It wasn’t until much later in the 1950’s and 60’s that it gained incredible popularity (F. Scott Fitzgerald). Fitzgerald was a prime example of someone who lived in the 20’s.
He enjoyed the new innovations and the more relaxed morals. The 1920’s consisted of a great social and moral revolution. Many of this was due to the developing technology of the time. After World War I many people moved to the cities where modernization was occurring in people’s morals and lives. The newly invented technology such as indoor plumbing created an easier and more attractive life for many people. The women, especially, enjoyed this because their options broadened very dramatically after they were expected to work in place of males when they were sent off to fight in the war.
They began to accept nothing less which even sparked the feminist movement. If women did choose to still stay at home, they now even had electricity in the cities which allowed for a better life for them and their family. Most cities enjoyed paved streets, telephones, refrigerators, streetlights, and sewage systems as well (City Life). Unlike the cities, the rural areas suffered greatly from the roaring twenties. Since less people wanted to work on farms since the city was more attractive to them, there was a shortage of farmers.
Although electricity was made available in cities, the same was not for rural areas. It progressed very slowly so farmers did not reap the benefits until much later (City Life). Another downside to the progressive ideals was that larger cities began to greatly lose their morals. Women had newly earned freedom and they took great advantage of it. They began to act more bold, drink like men, and dress more risque (City Life). Men, along with women, began to look the other way when it came to immoral acts as well. Often times, men and women would have affairs which became quite popular among the wealthy class.
People began marrying only for money and when they were unhappy they turned to cheating on their spouses. Investing in the stock market was also becoming very popular even if people didn’t have the money to do so. Life was good and no one thought anything bad would come from this type of behavior. This kind of mindset is what lead to the stock market crash in 1929 (1920-30. com). Fitzgerald himself was a wonderful example of a typical person during this time period. He gained success through his multiple works and achieved what everyone thought was the american dream at the time.
He married a beautiful woman and life seemed to not have any worries. At the time of writing the novel, he probably thought that this was the ideal way to live. He wanted to showcase the glamorous aspects of this time period. He believed the popular belief that living carelessly and without morals was the way to live. Later in his life you could see the toll that this way of living took on him. He soon turned to alcohol and had a terrible time dealing with writer’s block. His wife Zelda suffered from many mental health issues and the couple spent many years going in and out of hospitals.
Fitzgerald eventually realized that this was not the way to live but at that point it was too late, the damage had already been done. Although not received well at the time that it was published, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was a wonderful example of modernism in the 1920’s and even reflected who Fitzgerald was as a person. The 1920’s were a time of revolution and innovation but they also brought great sorrow. Due to the decline in morals, many social aspects changed and will never return to the way it was before.