The Making of This Side of Paradise

By James L. W. West III | Go to book overview

3
The Education of a Personage

Early in July 1919 Fitzgerald returned from New York to his parents' home in St. Paul. His spirits were low: he had failed at business and at writing, and his relationship with Zelda had ended -- apparently forever. "I retired not on my profits but on my liabilities," he recalled in 1937, "which included debts, despair and a broken engagement and crept home to St. Paul to 'finish a novel.'"1 Thus began a cyclical pattern of success/ failure/comeback that characterized much of his later life. In future years he would hit other personal, professional, and financial lowpoints, and after desperate struggles would recover from most of them. In fact one can argue convincingly that Fitzgerald needed the stimulus of impending disaster to make him write, since in times of tranquility and security he usually produced little. When he was brought low, however, he found in his difficulties the resources for excellent fiction. That is the background for The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, and also for This Side of Paradise.

In that summer of 1919 Fitzgerald thought of his novel as a chance to win two all-important things -- success and love. These two desires were inextricably bound together in his mind, because for him success was impossible without the golden girl. Under these powerful, self-imposed pressures Fitzgerald delivered, just as he would so often do in later life. He wrote the novel, placed it with a prestigious house, saw it

____________________
1
Early Success, p. 94.

-43-

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The Making of This Side of Paradise
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Beginnings November 1917-July 1919 3
  • 2 - The Romantic Egotist 23
  • 3 - The Education of a Personage 43
  • 4 - Grammarian, Typist, and Editor 83
  • 5 - This Side of Paradise 99
  • Appendixes 121
  • Index 139
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