THE USA BETWEEN THE WARS The 1920s were characterized by high confidence in the US: ·The economy grew quickly because of : - huge resources - little competition from Europe - taxes on profits and industries were cut by the Republican governement BUT The south western mining towns, Midwest farmers, urban industrial workers were untouched by wealth.
FEAR OF SOCIALISM (RED SCARE)RESTRICTION OF IMMIGRATIONSEGREGATION OF MINORITIES into city slums (Harlem)REVIVAL OF PURITANICAL ATTITUDES:the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture,consumption, import of alcohol.fostered the illegal traffic of bootleggers who imported or produced spiritsillegaly. GANGSTERISM
THE JAZZ AGEWWI had swept away the influences of Europe and a new generation of intellectualswas born.They showed the excitement and the contradictions of the age due to the radicalchanges in the way people behaved and thought.Especially joung people reacted against the strict Puritan morality of the previouscentury:·roaring cars·new dances (charleston)·smart parties and cocktails·women wore short hair and dresses.
THE LOST GENERATIONMany disillusioned writers and intellectuals emigrated to Europe, chiefly to Paris werethey met around Gertrude Stein .Her salon became a meeting point for young talents.Among them:F.S. FitzgeraldE.HemingwayT.S. EliotE.E.Cummingswho modernized American Literature
LIFE AND WORKS·Born in Saint Paul Minnesota.·Enrolled at Princeton University, but never graduated.·Enlisted in the army in 1917 when WWI was near the end.·In Montgomery, Alabama he met and fell in love with Zelda Sayre who was 17.·She agreed to marry him but delayed the wedding until he became a successful man.·1920 This Side of Paradise: a picture of the lifestyle of young people in the "roaringtwenties". He captured the sense of loss and emptyness hiding behind the cult ofmoney and materialism.·1921 married Zelda·they led a glamourous life of amusements, parties, alcohol and drugs.·1922 Tales of the Jazz Age; The Beautiful and the Damned: described the hedonism,corruption, loss of ideals of the lost generation
·1922 he went to Europe: Paris, the French Rivierafinished writing·THE GREAT GATSBY 1925: no commercial success; beginning of his decline.·wrote film scripts to pay debts·became alcoholic·his wife suffered from mental instability·1934 Tender is the Night :dealt with the failures of the dreams and ideals ofthe 20s·1939 he began The Last Tycoon·He died in 1940.
Nick Carraway·Hes the retrospective narrator who is both observer and participant.·Hes the only one in the book who has a sense of morals and decency.·He comes from the West , which is considered the part of the country where the puritanvalues were still alive. In the book it is idealized as a moral land in contrast with theimmorality of New Yourk City .·His point of view provides a fixed perspective amid the chaotic details of the party.·We see events and characters through his eyes and ,therefore, not in a chronologicalway, but we learn about them in bits over a period of time.·Hes tolerant, open minded, a good listener and people willinkgly talk to him.·At the end of the book , he is the only one who remains faithful to Gatsby, the one whohas really understood him. He arranges Gs funeral.·Then he goes back to the simpler life of the Mid-West , based on sound principles turningaway in disgust from lives founded on amoral passions, self-assertion and emotionalindulgence.
JAY GATSBY·Hes an enigmatic figure, a mysterious "self made man", who appears to have achieved theAmerican Dream of immense wealth.·Hes the owner of a palatial mansion where he holds fabulous extravagant parties, open tovirtually onyone, given week after week all through the summer.·At the heart of this glamourous world (as Nick discovers) are inner solitude and emptinessand Gatsbys unhappy love for Daisy whom he had met when he was too poor to marry her.·He has finally made the fortune he so desperately wanted but his life is still solitary andempty.·All through the book people speculate about the source of his wealth and his true identity.·Only at the very end we learn that he made his money as a "bootlegger"- a seller of illegalliqueur during the Prohibition period.·All he can do with his wealth is buy a house facing Daisys and give party after party, hopingone day she will appear at one of them and fall in love with him again.·To protect Daisy, Gatsby pretends he was driving the yellow Rolls Royce at the moment of theaccident in which Mirtle Wilson was killed.·He goes home at waits for death to come in the swimming pool.·He is buried in a deserted cemetery, on a sad, rainy day, abandoned by almost everybody.·Only Nick knows him more deeply: as the novel progresses he comes to see that Gatsby is ahopeful guileless young man whose great mistake was to stake everything on his impossibledreams, idealizing a woman unworthy of his love. His dream has ruined the life of a man whowould have been loyal and good hearted (this was in fact the first impression that Nickreceived on his first meeting him).
Daisy Buchanan·Shes a superficial, fragile woman.·She gives more importance to money than feelings and marries Tom Buchananfor his wealth and social position.·Her marriage is unhappy, in fact Tom has a relationship with Mirtle Wilson.·When she meets Gatsby , her past feelings for him reemerge and she spendssome time with him but rarely alone.·She is driving Gatsbys car when Mirtle Wilson crosses the road, running awayfrom her husband who has discovered her relationship with Tom Buchanan.·She doesnt reveal the truth to anyone, and after Gatsbys death she returns to herfrivolous and vacuous existence.·When Nick tries to contact her to invite her to Gatsbys funeral he finds out thatshe and her husband have left without leaving the date of their return.
RECURRENT THEMES IN FITZGERALDS WORKS ·The dream of wealth and success ·The corruption of the American Dream: the dream that arose in the colonial age and developed in the following century was based on the belief that each person could suceed in life owing to his or her capacity, intelligence and effort. But the old values which were its substance and moral basis, are now corrupted by the squalid pursuit of power and wealth. ·Alienation: all the characters of Fitzgeraldsnovels are blinded by their personal dream, be it of power, wealth or love. They therefore misinterpret what is happening and cannot penetrate the real truth of things; solitude and alienation are hidden under the violent, magnificent surface. ·The impossible hope of recapturing the past: under the description of the roaring days of the "jazz age" there is a hidden, nostalgic longing for a simpler, nobler time.
NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE·Fitzgerald frequently makes use of a first-person narrative with a narrator whoarranges the events he describes and comments on them, interpreting them for thereader.· His works have a dramatic quality: he makes the plot or the sequence of actionsexpress the characters themselves.·He sketches characters and events with a few essential touches, stripping awayanything which is superfluous. by Silvia Palamara