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F Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby and The Roaring Twenties: 

F Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby and The Roaring Twenties American Literature Literature

1920-1929: Changing Times: 

1920-1929: Changing Times An economy stimulated by WW1 fueled a massive economic boom. The 1920’s were a time of unprecedented social and technological change in so many areas:

General Business Conditions: 

General Business Conditions Stable prices High employment Number of firms increased annually until 1929 Steady failure rate Prime interest rate averaged less than 5% Stock yield higher than bond yields

Income Distribution: 

Income Distribution Equalizing effect of income tax during the war but 1922: Top 1% held 32% of nation’s wealth 1929: Top 1% held 38% of nation’s wealth “The rich get rich and the poor get… children”


The decade of the twenties is often referred to as the “ Jazz Age’. However, the term has much as much to do with the jazzy atmosphere of the time as with the music! The Roaring Twenties

Jazzy Sounds: 

Jazzy Sounds Prohibition brought many jazz musicians north from New Orleans to Chicago and New York Joe “King” Oliver” was one of the best Jazz became the soundtrack of rebellion for a younger generation

Jazzy Duds: 

Jazzy Duds Flappers were typical young girls of the twenties, usually with bobbed hair, short skirts, rolled stockings, and powdered knees! They danced the night away doing the Charleston and the Black Bottom.

Jazzy Talk -Twenties Slang: 

Jazzy Talk -Twenties Slang All Wet - wrong Bee’s Knees - a superb person Big Cheese -an important person Bump Off - to murder Dumb Dora - a stupid girl Flat Tire - a dull, boring person Gam - a girls leg Hooch - bootleg liquor Hoofer - chorus girl Torpedo - a hired gunman Gee I wish a torpedo would bump off this flat tire Dumb Dora

Music in Gatsby: 

Music in Gatsby Jazz and Ragtime Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington King Oliver

Symphonic Jazz and Gatsby : 

Symphonic Jazz and Gatsby George Gershwin wrote both classical and popular music He was the first composer to combine jazz and classical music with Rhapsody in Blue in1924

Lifestyles and fashions of the 1920s: 

Lifestyles and fashions of the 1920s No more Victorian Values Flappers Collegiate Students Independent women Gaiety Increasing wealth Social mobility Alcohol consumption

Women’s Rights Movement: 

Women’s Rights Movement Suffrage - the right to vote Nineteenth Amendment (1920) Changing attitudes and fashions help bring about the new woman e.g. Jordan Baker

The Flapper by Dorothy Parker: 

The Flapper by Dorothy Parker The playful flapper here we see, The fairest of the fair. She’s not what Grandma used to be,-- You might say, au contraire. Her girlish ways may make a stir, Her manners cause a scene But there is no more harm in her Than in a submarine. She nightly knocks for many a goal The usual dancing men. Her speed is great, but her control Is something else again All spotlights focus on her pranks. All tongues her prowess herald For which she well may render thanks To God and Scott Fitzgerald. Her golden rule is plain enough-- Just get them young and treat them rough


Prohibition 18th Amendment (1919) to the Constitution forbade the manufacture, sale, import, or export of intoxicating liquors. Bootleggers Sold, bought, consumed alcohol. Gangsters Al Capone and a ‘gonnection’

Media and Technology: 

Media and Technology Automobilisation the car is available to many from courting to dating Mass Media Magazines and literacy Reader’s Digest Time Radios and advertising New forms of narrative Movie - “talkies” e.g. The Jazz Singer Popular Sports

F Scott Fitzgerald: 

F Scott Fitzgerald Descendent from “prominent” American stock Attended Princeton but left without graduating Missed WWI (just) Met Zelda but couldn’t afford to marry her Published This Side of Paradise in 1920 at the age of 24: instant stardom Married Zelda, his “golden girl” Wrote “money-making” popular fiction for most of his life, mainly for the New York Post: $4000 a story (which equates to about $50,000 today) He and Zelda were associated with high living of the Jazz Age

Fitzgerald Continued: 

Fitzgerald Continued A daughter, Scotty Wrote what is considered his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, in Europe in 1924-25 Zelda has an affair and Gatsby poorly received Attempts to earn a clean literary reputation were disrupted by his reputation as a drunk Zelda becomes mentally unstable Moved to Hollywood as a screen writer Dies almost forgotten aged 45 Zelda perished in a mental hospital fire in 1948 Only became a “literary great” in the 1960’s

Literature of the 1920s: 

Literature of the 1920s Authors wrote about their personal lives as something “knowable”. Gatsby contains a great deal of autobiographical material and references to the 1920’s. Fitzgerald was also influenced by Modernist theories about art.

Modernism in the Twenties: 

Modernism in the Twenties

The Modernist Era: 

The Modernist Era Rejection of Romanticism and the advent of moral uncertainty the catastrophe of World War I Embracing the new i.e. mechanization and industrialisation new (replaceable) fashions mass entertainment Using new means of Representation the development of cinema, the mass media and advertising

Modernism and Nick Carraway: 

Modernism and Nick Carraway Because of the chaos there was a longing for order. The modernist generation produced utopian ideologies such as communism, fascism, and futurism.

Modernism and Romanticism: 

Modernism and Romanticism Nick Gatsby

The Great Gatsby: 

The Great Gatsby Time period – 1920’s Setting – East Egg, West Egg, NYC List of Main Characters Nick Carraway (narrator) Tom Buchanan Daisy Fay Buchanan Jordan Baker Jay Gatsby George Wilson Myrtle Wilson

Recap--The Roaring Twenties: 

Recap--The Roaring Twenties Prohibition Speakeasies Bootlegging Organized Crime Jazz Age Dancing Flappers Women’s rights


1920 More people in the city than in the country # of radios in homes – 2,000 First radio broadcast aired Harlem Renaissance begins League of Nations established 19th Amendment – women granted the right to vote in the US


1921 Warren G. Harding is inaugurated as President of the United States of America Knee length skirts become fashionable The first Miss America pageant First drive-in food place


1922 Flapper dress makes its debut Speakeasies in NYC = 5,000 First radio commercial broadcast


1923 Hollywood sign goes up Americans see on avg. 1 movie/week President Harding dies Vice President Coolidge becomes President 15 million cars registered in the US Charleston dance becomes popular


1924 # of radios in US homes – 2.5 million 1st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Coolidge is reelected


1925 Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby Hitler publishes Mein Kampf The first woman Governor of a U.S. state (Wyoming) is elected. The Scopes Trial Evolution in schools debate First trial broadcast over the radio Frisbie invented


1926 40 hour work week (used to be 84 hour) 1 in 6 Americans owns a car 1st supermarket Mae West – arrested for moving navel during play US woman swims the English Channel Deaths due to bad booze in NYC = 750


1927 Charles Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic Ocean First talking movie (The Jazz Singer) Telephone service is opened between New York City and London (AT&T) Speakeasies in NYC = 30,000 Deaths due to bad booze in 1 hospital in NYC on New Year’s Eve = 41

1927 (continued): 

1927 (continued) Al “Scarface” Capone earnings $100 million – alcohol sales $30 million – protection business $25 million – gambling $10 million – vice and sundry rackets


1928 U.S. signs Briand-Kellogg Pact - outlawing war Amelia Earhart flies across the Atlantic Women compete for the first time in Olympic field events Penicillin discovered 1st televisions are sold - $75 Mickey Mouse in first cartoon Divorce rate – 1 in 6 marriages


1929 Empire State Building construction begins Speakeasies in NYC = 32,000 – 100,000 Speakeasies in Chicago = 10,000 Valentine’s Day Massacre “Bugs” Moran gang killed by Al Capone’s men Car radio invented Stock Market crash October 29 “Black Tuesday” $9 billion lost on that one day

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today

1920’s compared to today: 

1920’s compared to today


Assignment What would the US be without the following 1920’s events/inventions? Pick one from the following list and write a few minutes Radio Car radio Television Miss America Pageant Prohibition Fast food places 40 hour work week Skyscrapers Penicillin


Is The Great Gatsby a period piece, or does the novel step outside its time and address universal themes?

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