This Side of Paradise


F. Scott Fitzgerald

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This Side of Paradise Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Born just before the turn of the twentieth century to a middle-class family, F. Scott Fitzgerald was raised primarily in upstate New York. He attended Princeton University but dropped out in 1917 to fight for the United States in World War I. While stationed in Alabama, he met Zelda Sayre, whom he later married. Fitzgerald moved to New York City after the war, where he began his writing career. His first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), is largely autobiographical; it was met with enormous commercial success. Fitzgerald and Zelda married after the novel’s publication and became famous for their “Jazz Age” lifestyle in New York City. He wrote numerous short stories for popular magazines and published other novels, including his most famous, The Great Gatsby (1925), during the 1920s. The Fitzgeralds had a daughter together and briefly moved back to Saint Paul before moving to Europe. They had a troubled marriage— both struggled with alcoholism and mental illness—and in 1930, Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia and subsequently hospitalized. During the Great Depression, the popularity of Fitzgerald’s work suffered, along with his finances. During the 1930s, he was hospitalized for alcoholism multiple times. Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood to become a screenwriter, but he was poorly suited to the work and didn’t see much success. He later began a relationship with Sheilah Graham, a gossip columnist. Fitzgerald became sober a year before his death of a heart attack in 1940.
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Historical Context of This Side of Paradise

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his fictional alter-ego, Amory Blaine, belonged to what has been called the “Lost Generation,” a term coined by writer Gertrude Stein. Born just before the turn of the twentieth century, this generation came of age during and after World War I, and many of them were killed in the war. The period was also a time of rapid global change. In Europe and the United States, the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century had dramatically transformed society, and the invention of new technologies allowed for factories and mass production, radically altering the economy. It had also created new weapons that significantly changed how wars were fought. As a result, World War I was one of the deadliest conflicts in global history, and it was immensely traumatic for those who participated in it. After the war came the “Roaring Twenties,” a decade of economic boom, expanded consumer demand, and transforming social values in the United States. Though it was considered a period of prosperity, society was still unequal, and many people were concerned about the decade’s embrace of luxury, consumerism, and hedonism. Those who came of age during this period were known as the “Lost Generation” because the rapid social, economic, cultural, and technological transformations—as well as the trauma of the war— left many young people feeling aimless, lost, and adrift in modern cities.

Other Books Related to This Side of Paradise

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote multiple novels and may short stories during his writing career. The Beautiful and Damned (1922), his second novel, follows a young hedonistic couple who socialize among New York’s elite during the Jazz Age. Based on his life and marriage to Zelda Sayre, the novel—like much of Fitzgerald’s work—concerns themes of money, class, extravagance, love, and modern life. His next novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), considers similar themes. Though initially unpopular, it is now his most celebrated work. Fitzgerald’s fourth and final novel, Tender is the Night (1934), considers alcoholism and mental deterioration; the novel was largely influenced by his own experiences and those of his wife, who was being treated in a psychiatric hospital while Fitzgerald wrote and revised the novel. Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises (1926) is about American expatriate artists and writers in Europe. Like much of Fitzgerald’s work, the novel is considered a definitive account of the Jazz Age, and Hemingway was a close friend and traveling companion of Fitzgerald’s during the 1920s.
Key Facts about This Side of Paradise
  • Full Title: This Side of Paradise
  • When Written: 1916–1919
  • Where Written: Princeton, New Jersey; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • When Published: March 26, 1920
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre: Bildungsroman
  • Setting: Saint Paul, Minnesota; Princeton, New Jersey; New York City
  • Climax: Amory walks from New York to Princeton to reflect on his youth.
  • Point of View: Third Person

Extra Credit for This Side of Paradise

Dying Regrets. Though his first two novels sold well, his final two did not, and all four became more obscure during the Great Depression. At the end of his life, Fitzgerald feared that he had become irrelevant, and he died believing himself to have been forgotten. His novels experienced a resurgence in popularity starting in the 1940s and 1950s.

Whose Side of Paradise? Zelda Fitzgerald herself wrote a semi-autobiographical novel concerning her marriage and life during the Jazz Age, called Save Me The Waltz (1932). Though it sold poorly upon its publication, critics have found it interesting in the way it differs from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s portrayal of their marriage and life during that period.