Fitzgerald and Short Story Writing Essay

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Fitzgerald and Short Story Writing

Although Fitzgerald today is usually considered a novelist, in his lifetime he was more well-known for his short stories. He was a prolific writer of short stories, and published around 160 of them (Bruccoli xiii). Many literary critics often separate “Fitzgerald the novel writer” from “Fitzgerald the short story writer”. In his own life, Fitzgerald felt somewhat of a disconnection between his ‘literary’ career as a novelist and his more professional career writing short stories. However, Fitzgerald’s short stories are very important to the study of his work. One can observe his development as a writer and see parallels between his stories and his novels.

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Some of his stories were praised, however, such as “May Day”, “The Ice Palace”, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”, “The Rich Boy”, and “Babylon Revisited”. Moreover, recent literary critics, particularly in the past decade, have reevaluated Fitzgerald’s canon of short stories and now recognize them as a critical and valuable component of Fitzgerald’s work.

While Fitzgerald’s stories often have common themes running through them, they are not formulaic or predictable. Fitzgerald once said: “As soon as I feel I am writing to a cheap specification, my pen freezes and my talent vanishes over the hill” (qtd. in Bruccoli xv). His stories are often unpredictable and do not always have happy endings. Moreover, many of the stories have morals at their center. They often deal with issues that are very telling of this period in history. As Mangum says: “Fitzgerald’s short fiction, often through subtext, both deconstructs post-World War I values and also speaks to issues that transcend the modern” (66). It is for reasons such as this that Fitzgerald’s short stories are such a valuable asset to American literature.

Although Fitzgerald resented having to write popular fiction to make a living, he did use his stories to aid in the writing of his novels. He would often use short
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