F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald by George H. Rothacker - acrylic on canvas -  24" x 24" - Original painting $2400, prints @$90 each plus tax and shipping (Prints are an edition of 50, signed, titled and numbered with an image area of 13"x 13").

Born in 1896, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote four novels during his lifetime as well as scores of stories and an unfinished book.

He is best know for his second book, The Great Gatsby, completed at the age of 29. His other three novels are, This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, and Tender is the Night.

He died at the age of 44 without ever surpassing the acclaim he received for Gatsby, a novel that captured the imagination of audiences of the 1920s, and was out of print by the time of the author’s death in 1941. 

I was introduced to Fitzgerald early when a short story, “May Day,” was assigned to me by my literature instructor at Temple. Written when he was 24 years old, the story captured, as Fitzgerald commented, the “general hysteria...that inaugurated the Jazz Age.”

From that short story I moved on to his first novel, This Side of Paradise, written shortly after Fitzgerald’s graduation from Princeton. While reading it, I felt stuck with little hope for any successes ahead in my own life.

I read Gatsby soon after, and marveled at Fitzgerald’s ability to spin such a mysterious and vibrant tale at the age of only 29, while I, at 21, was tortured by realizations that I would never have a chance to rise to any ability close to his, or excel at any task.

Since that initial reading, I have read Gatsby three times—most recently within the past month. As a side note, I very much enjoyed the 1974 film starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, did not much like the 2013 version with Leonardo DiCaprio, and never saw the 1949 version featuring Alan Ladd as Gatsby.

Though Fitzgerald’s writing has inspired me throughout most of my life, until just a few weeks ago I had not added his portrait to my series of paintings of “20th Century American Writers” for several reasons including the fact that my concepts seemed dull in comparison to the author’s very brilliant, but short life.

In tribute to Fitzgerald, and in celebration of the reading of the novel by my wife Barbara’s book club, I merged the mournful eyes and garish glow of Coney Island from the original hardcover edition of Gatsby with a three-quarter view of the author to salute his colorful and dramatic career.

Looking back to my first reading in my early 20s from the advanced age of 74, I remain in awe of Fitzgerald’s prose, but I am no longer envious of his success. I realize now that some stars burn bright for a while, with even death not diminishing their glow, while others plod along inspired by the accomplishments of their mentors. In doing so many can accumulate a lifetime of great achievements that often outweigh the flourish of fame and the unavoidable burdens that can plague the prodigious soul.

F. Scott Fitzgerald


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