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Spires and Gargoyles: Early Writings, 1909-1919

Overview

F. Scott Fitzgerald had a busy and productive literary apprenticeship, writing in a great variety of genres. This volume contains his writings for the student magazine at his high schools and his Princeton writings for the Daily Princetonian, the Princeton Tiger, and the Nassau Literary Magazine. Of special note in this volume are the complete lyrics that Fitzgerald composed for three student musical comedies mounted by the Triangle Club at Princeton – Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi! (1914), The Evil Eye (1915), and Safety ...

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Overview

F. Scott Fitzgerald had a busy and productive literary apprenticeship, writing in a great variety of genres. This volume contains his writings for the student magazine at his high schools and his Princeton writings for the Daily Princetonian, the Princeton Tiger, and the Nassau Literary Magazine. Of special note in this volume are the complete lyrics that Fitzgerald composed for three student musical comedies mounted by the Triangle Club at Princeton – Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi! (1914), The Evil Eye (1915), and Safety First! (1916). The volume includes a scholarly introduction, a record of variants and emendations, and numerous facsimiles and other illustrations. Explanatory notes identify the literary works, Broadway shows, movie queens, stage stars, politicians, historical figures, criminals, sports heroes, and popular songs referred to by Fitzgerald in these early writings.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...by giving his work a scholarly imprimatur and by establishing an apparatus to rival those in standard editions of Hawthorne, Conrad, and Faulkner, Cambridge has made it much easier to take Fitzgerald seriously....Spires and Gargoyles offers the first widespread oppurtunity for the non-scholarly reader to discover who Fitzgerald was before her became F. Scott Fitzgerald...West's introduction is excellent in both iits precision and economy. It lays out the facts of Fitzgerald's apprenticeship, noting his proficiency in the various genres represented here, and it provides a reliable list of original publication appearances." - Kirk Curnutt, The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review
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Product Details

Meet the Author

James L. W. West III is Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.

Biography

The greatest writers often function in multifaceted ways, serving as both emblems of their age and crafters of timeless myth. F. Scott Fitzgerald surely fits this description. His work was an undeniable product of the so-called Jazz Age of the 1920s, yet it has a quality that spans time, reaching backward into gothic decadence and forward into the future of a rapidly decaying America. Through five novels, six short story collections, and one collection of autobiographical pieces, Fitzgerald chronicled a precise point in post-WWI America, yet his writing resonates just as boldly today as it did nearly a century ago.

Fitzgerald's work was chiefly driven by the disintegration of America following World War I. He believed the country to be sinking into a cynical, Godless, depraved morass. He was never reluctant to voice criticism of America's growing legions of idle rich. Recreating a heated confrontation with Ernest Hemingway in a short story called "The Rich Boy," Fitzgerald wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

The preceding quote may sum Fitzgerald's philosophy more completely than any other, yet he also hypocritically embodied much of what he claimed to loathe. Fitzgerald spent money freely, threw lavish parties, drank beyond excess, and globe-trotted with his glamorous but deeply troubled wife Zelda. Still, in novel after novel, he sought to expose the great chasm that divided the haves from the have-nots and the hollowness of wealth. In This Side of Paradise (1920) he cynically follows opulent, handsome Amory Blaine as he bounces aimlessly from Princeton to the military to an uncertain, meaningless future. In The Beautiful and the Damned (1922) Fitzgerald paints a withering portrait of a seemingly idyllic marriage between a pair of socialites that crumbles in the face of Adam Patch's empty pursuit of profit and the fading beauty of his vane wife Gloria.

The richest example of Fitzgerald's disdain for the upper class arrived three years later. The Great Gatsby is an undoubted American classic, recounting naïve Nick Carraway's involvement with a coterie of affluent Long Islanders, and his ultimate rejection of them when their casual decadence leads only to internal back-stabbing and murder. Nick is fascinated by the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who had made the fatal mistake of stepping outside of his lower class status to pursue the lovely but self-centered Daisy Buchanan.

In The Great Gatsby, all elements of Fitzgerald's skills coalesced to create a narrative that is both highly readable and subtly complex. His prose is imbued with elegant lyricism and hard-hitting realism. "It is humor, irony, ribaldry, pathos and loveliness," Edwin C. Clark wrote of the book in the New York Times upon its 1925 publication. "A curious book, a mystical, glamorous story of today. It takes a deeper cut at life than hitherto has been essayed by Mr. Fitzgerald."

Gatsby is widely considered to be Fitzgerald's masterpiece and among the very greatest of all American literature. It is the ultimate summation of his contempt for the Jazz-Age with which he is so closely associated. Gatsby is also one of the clearest and saddest reflections of his own destructive relationship with Zelda, which would so greatly influence the mass of his work.

Fitzgerald only managed to complete one more novel -- Tender is the Night -- before his untimely death in 1940. An unfinished expose of the Hollywood studio system titled The Love of the Last Tycoon would be published a year later. Still The Great Gatsby remains his quintessential novel. It has been a fixture of essential reading lists for decades and continues to remain an influential work begging to be revisited. It has been produced for the big screen three times and was the subject of a movie for television starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino, and Paul Rudd as recently as 2000. Never a mere product of a bygone age, F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest work continues to evade time.

Good To Know

In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood to pursue a screenwriting career. He only completed a single screenplay Three Comrades during this time before being fired for his excessive drinking.

He held a very romantic view of Princeton before attending the university in 1913. However, his failure to maintain adequate grades or become the football star he dreamed to be lead to an early end to his studies in 1917.

Fitzgerald owes a his name to another famous American writer. He was named after Francis Scott Key, the composer of "The Star Spangled Banner," who also happened to be a distant relative of Fitzgerald's.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 24, 1896
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Death:
      December 21, 1940

Table of Contents

Illustrations

Introduction

1 Background

2 Subsequent appearances

3 Editorial principles

4 Regularized features

5 Dates of publication

6 Lacunae and attributions

St. Paul Academy, 1909-1911

The Newman School, 1911-1913

Princeton University, 1914-1919

Record of Variants

Explanatory Notes

Illustrations

Appendix Probable attributions

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