Scott Fitzgerald was a man of many parts which seem difficult to reconcile. He was a self-destructive drunk and a prolific, hard-working and highly talented professional writer who, in his 20-year career, produced four complete novels, one major work-in-progress, about 150 short stories, around 30 articles and essays, a substantial set of notebooks, and a sheaf of correspondence. He wanted to be ‘one of the greatest writers who have ever lived’, but much of his creative energy went into commercial fiction and film scripts that were never produced. He was almost always in debt, but managed not only to support himself but also to pay for his wife’s prolonged stays in costly mental hospitals and his daughter’s private schooling and elite university education at Vassar. He lived with his wife for only ten years, all of them fraught, but he never divorced her and Scott and Zelda have joined the pantheon of great lovers in literary history and popular culture. He rarely saw his daughter as she grew up, but his letters to her show a caring father intensely concerned for her moral welfare and cultural development and ready to share his deepest reflections with her. He led an itinerant life, with few possessions, and never owned a permanent home, but he usually dwelt in some style in high-class hotels or in large and comfortable rented houses or apartments with servants. He often behaved appallingly but he could also be funny, gracious and charming.
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