Babylon Revisited Theme Essay Checklist

 

Babylon Revisited

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. His given name, Francis Scott KeyFitzgerald, was a tribute to his relative Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star SpangledBanner.” Fitzgerald grew up in Buffalo, New York, and Minnesota. His family, RomanCatholics of Irish descent, didn’t have much money, but Fitzgerald still managed to attend prepschool in New Jersey thanks to financial help from an aunt. He then went to PrincetonUniversity for three years but dropped out and enlisted in the army in 1917 when the UnitedStates entered World War I. He wrote his first novel while training to be an officer andsubmitted it to an editor at Scribner’s, who turned it down. While still in training, Fitzgeraldalso met Zelda Sayre, a high-society girl from Alabama whom he would eventually marry in1920. Fortunately, the war ended before he could be deployed to Europe.While living at his parents’ house in St. Paul, Fitzgerald revised the novel he had written intraining camp and changed its title from

The Romantic Egoist

to

This Side of Paradise

. Finallypublished in 1920, his first novel was a great success and made Fitzgerald famous. Tocapitalize on the popularity of

This Side of Paradise

, Fitzgerald’s publishers rushed to publish

 Flappers and Philosophers

(1920), his first collection of short stories. In 1922, Fitzgerald cameout with a second collection,

Tales of the Jazz Age

, followed by

The Beautiful and Damned

(1922) and

The Great Gatsby

(1925), which is widely considered Fitzgerald’s finest work. Nineyears passed before the publication of Fitzgerald’s next novel,

Tender Is the Night

(1934), thestory of a psychiatrist and his mentally ill wife.Many of the recurring themes in Fitzgerald’s work—money, class, ambition, alcoholism,mental illness—have their roots in his personal life. He had a tumultuous and passionaterelationship with Zelda, with whom he had one daughter, Frances Scott. Despite the success ofhis novels, Fitzgerald was often short of the money necessary to pay for his glamorous, fast-paced lifestyle in New York. His agent and editor loaned him funds, and he supplemented hisincome by writing for such magazines as

 Esquire

and the

Saturday Evening Post 

. He alsoearned money by selling the film rights to his work. Poor health plagued him and his family:Fitzgerald was an alcoholic, and Zelda was hospitalized for schizophrenia in 1932, a disasterthat likely inspired

Tender Is the Night 

, which Fitzgerald wrote while living in a rented housenear Zelda’s hospital.In the 1930s, Fitzgerald left Zelda and moved to Hollywood. Even though the couple neverfiled for divorce, they never lived together again. In Hollywood, Fitzgerald moved in with amovie columnist named Sheilah Graham and worked on scripts, short stories, and a fifth novel.Fitzgerald hated his work in Hollywood and believed he was wasting his talent, but he didn’tquit because he needed the money. In 1940, Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks and died laterthat year at age forty-four, leaving his last novel unfinished. Edmund Wilson, a well-knownwriter and critic and a friend of Fitzgerald’s since their days together at Princeton, edited themanuscript and notes that Fitzgerald left behind. The result was published in 1940 as

The Last Tycoon

.Fitzgerald is considered the voice of the Lost Generation, the generation that came of ageduring World War I. He’s also considered the ultimate explicator of the Jazz Age of the 1920s,

Change and Transformation

In "Babylon Revisited," a father tries to regain custody of his daughter after the death of his wife, financial disaster in the stock market crash of 1929, and his own battle with alcoholism. A central theme of the story is Charlie's struggle to convince himself and others that he has abandoned the "dissipated" ways of his pre-crash life in Paris. Through telling details, Fitzgerald shows the reader that Charlie has largely reformed, while hinting that his problems may not be entirely behind him.

Throughout the story Charlie is presented with temptations to return to the "utter irresponsibility" of his previous life, which he must overcome to prove he truly understands that personal character is the "eternally valuable element." In the story's opening scene, Charlie appears to demonstrate his new self-discipline by refusing the bartender's offer of a drink. But he then undercuts the reader's confidence by giving...

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