Background of the novel
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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was a Jazz Age novelist and short story writer who is considered to be among the greatest twentieth-century American writers. Born on September 24, 1896, he was the only son of an aristocratic father and a provincial, working-class mother. He was the product of two divergent traditions: while his father's family included the author of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (after whom Fitzgerald was named), his mother's family was, in Fitzgerald's own words, "straight 1850 potato-famine Irish." As a result of this contrast, he was exceedingly ambivalent toward the notion of the American dream: for him, it was at once vulgar and dazzlingly promising.
Like the central character of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald had an intensely romantic imagination; he once called it "a heightened sensitivity to the promises of life." The events of Fitzgerald's own life can be seen as a struggle to realize those promises.