David S. Brown avec Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pigeonholed in popular memory as a Jazz Age epicurean, a playboy, and an emblem of the Lost Generation, F. Scott Fitzgerald was at heart a moralist struck by the nation s shifting mood and manners after World War I. In Paradise Lost, David Brown contends that Fitzgerald s deepest allegiances were to a fading antebellum world he associated with his father s Chesapeake Bay roots. Yet as a midwesterner, an Irish Catholic, and a perpetually in-debt author, he felt like an outsider in the haute bourgeoisie haunts of Lake Forest, Princeton, and Hollywood places that left an indelible mark on his worldview.
In this comprehensive biography, Brown reexamines Fitzgerald s childhood, first loves, and difficult marriage to Zelda Sayre. He looks at Fitzgerald s friendship with Hemingway, the golden years that culminated with Gatsby, and his increasing alcohol abuse and declining fortunes which coincided with Zelda s institutionalization and the nation s economic collapse.
Placing Fitzgerald in the company of Progressive intellectuals such as Charles Beard, Randolph Bourne, and Thorstein Veblen, Brown reveals Fitzgerald as a writer with an encompassing historical imagination not suggested by his reputation as the chronicler of the Jazz Age. His best novels, stories, and essays take the measure of both the immediate moment and the more distant rhythms of capital accumulation, immigration, and sexual politics that were moving America further away from its Protestant agrarian moorings. Fitzgerald wrote powerfully about change in America, Brown shows, because he saw it as the dominant theme in his own family history and life."
David Brown provides the kind of context that other biographers, caught up in the myths that Scott and Zelda created about themselves, have not provided. A pleasure to read. --James L. W. West III, Pennsylvania State University
In this masterful book, Brown brings an extensive knowledge of American cultural, social, and political history to the details of F. Scott Fitzgerald s life and works. The result is a study that allows the reader to consider Fitzgerald from a new perspective. - Bryant Mangum, Virginia Commonwealth University
"Almost everything non-factual you've ever read about F. Scott Fitzgerald is wrong [...] As David S. Brown shows in this meticulously argued new biography, Fitzgerald's whole career was steeped in regret rather than exhilaration. [...] Brown wisely relocates Fitzgerald, not among the smart set, but in the company of the genuinely smart commentators [...] Everyone loves to quote the famous Fitzgerald line [...] The truth that emerges from Paradise Lost (such a perfect title for a Fitzgerald biography) is that the subject's most quotable quote applies to no one better than himself. [...] An early story in I'd Die For You is about a publisher who 'accept[s] long novels about young love written by old maids in South Dakota', an almost perfect sentence and a great joke. Not as good though, as his own about non-fiction being 'a form of literature half-way between fiction and fact'. Most Fitzgerald biography up to now has been non-fiction of that sort. David S. Brown gets closer to a real Fitzgerald than anyone else." - The Herald
"Paradise Lost by David S Brown aims to head off such condescension by reinserting Fitzgerald into his historical context. An academic historian with an interest in regionalism and 20th- century American historiography, Brown approaches his subject's life in a way that's free and then some from corny novelistic touches. [...] Brown's ungossipy methods give him, as Nick Carraway s father might have put it, certain advantages. His depiction of Zelda, for instance, is appealing even-handed. - Financial Times
Fitzgerald's historical imagination is the subject of David Brown's Paradise Lost, presented as a biography, but really more of a series of essays that draw on important biographical moments to frame the evolution of Fitzgerald's historical vision. [ ] Brown's interest in Fitzgerald's understanding of history [is] very timely. - --New Statesman
Brown skilfully unstitches Fitzgerald s character and writings. --Sunday Times
David S. Brown is the Raffensperger Professor of History at Elizabethtown College.