Abstract

The 6 July 2011 keynote address at the 11th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference in Lyon, France, this article explores F. Scott Fitzgerald's natural affinity for sentence writing. From This Side of Paradise through The Great Gatsby and on into lesser-known contributions to Esquire in the late 1930s, Fitzgerald demonstrated that he was first and foremost a stylist and that the sentence, as Gertrude Stein recognized, was his métier. His style changed over the course of his career, but the essential components of his sentence writing remained the same: he believed in symbolism and imagery and in evoking mood and feeling. In the end, the best place to appreciate his talent for conveying both ideas and sentiments in sentence structures may be his Notebooks, in which he drafted some of his best-known, apothegm-like lines, including “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy” and “There are no second acts in American lives.”

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