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The Many Faces Of Francis Scott Fitzgerald - Great And Terrible
The Many Faces Of Francis Scott Fitzgerald - Great And Terrible

Video: The Many Faces Of Francis Scott Fitzgerald - Great And Terrible

Video: The Many Faces Of Francis Scott Fitzgerald - Great And Terrible
Video: 10 Actors Who Turned Into Monsters 2023, March

In his notebook, Francis Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), the founder of the English-speaking avant-garde in the literature of the first half of the 20th century, once wrote: "A novelist, if he is worth something, is a lot of people all rolled into one." These words can be fully attributed to the writer himself. Let's consider this multifaceted personality from psychopathological positions, starting with heredity

Fitzgerald's father, although he was not seven spans in his forehead, constantly wrote something and composed poetry. But from everywhere, wherever he got a job, he was kicked out for professional unsuitability.

An even more exotic figure is the mother of the future writer. According to various testimonies, she was an extremely eccentric woman, tactless and with a penchant for the so-called "verbal sadism": she felt a special pleasure in saying unpleasant things to others.

According to the assumption of psychiatrist O. G. Vilensky, the personality and behavior of Fitzgerald's mother leave no doubt that she suffered from schizophrenia with a gradual deepening of the mental defect

For example, such a characteristic of her is known: “Always dressed untidy; could, they say, appear in society in different shoes, in the old, black on one leg, and new, beige on the other."

And in such a not very prosperous family, an extremely gifted child was born. Scott had an amazing memory, he could repeat long passages from the dialogue he listened to without hesitation. Nature has endowed him with acting skills. He showed an active desire to flaunt himself, which was diligently fueled by an eccentric mother.

With his “know-it-all” and hypersociality, he caused irritation among teachers, and among his comrades - jealousy and envy. Was his desire to demonstrate his dignity subconscious or conscious? Most likely, both

In September 1909, Scott's story was published in the school magazine From Time to Time. He has not yet turned fifteen years old, and he has already managed to declare himself.

In 1913, Fitzgerald entered Princeton University, which, like many other American educational institutions, was the most popular athletes. But sport is not the path on which an intelligent young man who did not have the muscles of a bodybuilder could shine. But he took with wit and artistry. He also collaborated in university comic magazines, where he published his scripts, plays and lyrics.

As a student, Scott began to write his first big novel, This Side of Paradise, which soon brought him fame and glory.

Thus, we can note that one of the leading mechanisms of psychological protection of the personality of a young man at that time was overcompensation

In November 1917, Scott received the rank of junior lieutenant as "a person with an incomplete higher education" (he never graduated from the university) and began to prepare to be sent to Europe to become famous on the fields of the First World Won. In the army, he learned to drink "like a good fellow" and used to get drunk so "that he was lying under the window of the barracks, unable to drag himself to bed."

Biographers note such a feature of his developing alcoholism: he quickly got drunk and immediately lost control over his actions, turning into “another person”. It is known that if the loss of quantitative and situational control is manifested in a patient early enough, this is an unfavorable prognostic factor.

Fitzgerald did not get to the theater of operations - in November 1918 an armistice was declared and all officers were demobilized. At this time, Scott meets his future wife Zelda Seir, who played a fatal role in his life. Perhaps this circumstance was due to the fact that the girl suffered from a paroxysmal form of schizophrenia. The first engagement with her in the spring of 1919 was broken off, because the future celebrity did not yet have enough money for marriage and family life. Desperate, Scott quit his job, drank for three weeks in grief, and then locked himself at home and finished the manuscript, This Side of Paradise.

And at that moment, happiness finally smiled at him. In the spring of 1920, Fitzgerald's first novel was published and the writer, who immediately became famous, finally got the hand of his beloved.

Life was in full swing. But the eccentric antics of the newlyweds quickly became inadequate. If at first their adventures in New York were viewed as funny tricks that bore the imprint of their student years, now the revelry of a married couple led to obvious self-destruction

Fitzgerald could disappear for several days, and then neighbors found him asleep on the lawn in front of his own house. At dinner parties, he could crawl under the table or eat soup with a fork. The list of outrageous actions could be continued. For example, in 1927 in Hollywood, the couple appeared uninvited and in a state of strong intoxication at a masquerade ball in honor of the Talmidge sisters' film actresses, "got on all fours at the entrance and began to bark loudly, vying with each other."

At first Fitzgerald drank to "sharpen the perception of life, to expand its horizons for himself." After several cocktails, when it began to seem to him that the thought was flying as if on wings and an urgent need to sit down to write, the hop irresistibly took its toll, making it incapable of assiduous work.

Contemporaries, however, not without reason believed that Scott would not have drunk so ugly if his wife had not drunk him. But in the end, Fitzgerald's alcohol addiction developed, not his wife, who was finally hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic in 1930.

Living together with the unpredictable Zelda, of course, did not add to his peace. It should be noted that the psychiatrist who treated the writer's wife insisted on "mutual therapy", forcing Scott to reflect on his addiction to alcohol.

Fitzgerald stubbornly refused psychotherapy because of an instinctive reluctance to be "tweaked the tuning fork of the soul" in any way. He feared that psychotherapy would turn him into a rational person and replace him with an emotional person. He considered alcohol to be part of his working tool

A similar psychopathological phenomenon, which differs from anosognosia, was also characteristic of other prominent writers (Gogol, Dostoevsky, Rilke) and was called by us "therapeutic negativism."

Typically, the working day of a famous United States writer was structured according to the following schedule. He woke up at about 11 o'clock, sat down to work at about five in the afternoon and worked intermittently until three in the morning. But this is the schedule of the "working day" of the writer. More often than not, he spent the night hanging out in bars with his wife. And he wrote "in fits" in short hours of increased activity and concentration, when he managed to jot down up to 8000 words per day. This method worked well for stories that Fitzgerald preferred to write in one fell swoop.

So Fitzgerald worked on the principle of "thick at once, empty at once." If it was necessary to submit a story to print, he could sit at night, smoking one cigarette after another, at his desk. And he could have done nothing for years. After riotous drinking - and they had already become a habit with Fitzgerald - he felt relief and even "enlightenment." For weeks he did not touch alcohol, only to then dive into the intoxicating abyss again.

After two years of inconceivable follies, entertaining the press and the curious public with their shocking antics and scandals, the Fitzgeralds "played out" to drugs. In this state, in 1925 Fitzgerald “shot a doublet”, publishing a book of stories and his most famous novel, The Great Gatsby. But then, from February 1926 to June 1927, absolutely nothing came of Fitzgerald's pen.

The famous writer also had neurotic disorders that go back to early childhood. He never took off his shoes in public, for him it was tantamount to being completely naked. Swimming was out of the question, Scott was known for appearing even on the beach in boots and socks

Whether he was a sexual fetishist with a special attitude to the soles of the feet (we mean the phenomenon of autoeroticism) or obsessive-compulsive manifestations were the basis, it is not possible to say with complete certainty. However, the fact remains.

Against the background of ongoing drunkenness, Fitzgerald wrote one of his most popular novels, Tender Night (published in 1934). And then only until 1937 he was hospitalized eight times in various clinics for the treatment of alcoholism. In 1937, Fitzgerald tried to commit suicide by swallowing the entire contents of a bottle of morphine, but the overdose only vomited. Gradually despair gave way to shame, he realized that he had sunk to the very bottom.

In 1939, Scott wrote about this period as follows: "Every night I needed an increasing dose of sleeping pills - three teaspoons of chloral hydrate and two tablets of nembutal to sleep, and forty-five drops of foxglove in the morning so that the heart could work all day …" Of course, Gin continued to be his "main source of energy".

Not counting on a steady income from the literary work of a novelist, which is not surprising with such a severity of alcohol addiction, Fitzgerald gets a job in Hollywood as a screenwriter - not the most honorable position at that time. There, in particular, he worked on the script for the famous novel by Margaret Mitchell "Gone with the Wind." However, he did not manage to "get into the stream" of the passing Hollywood scenarios, which caused a corresponding and quite predictable reaction.

Fitzgerald developed real paranoia (“I was blacklisted,” “I was disliked,” “they are taking revenge on me," “they are plotting something against me”), which was aggravated by psychologically and clinically understandable depression

Suicidal thoughts began to appear more and more often. The depressive state was cyclical, accompanied by strong mood swings. He sometimes “avoids crowded parties, or, on the contrary, enjoys talking to Hollywood celebrities in Beverly Hills. He is cheerful, witty, keeps himself well, but he can, if he “go over it”, be rude, get up and leave in the middle of a conversation, he can even pounce on the interlocutor with fists, and that happened. Writes that he has a split personality; and indeed, at this time he sends himself a postcard …"

The remissions during his illness can hardly be seen as evidence of the criticism that has emerged. The latter had a peculiar and typically "alcoholic" character. So, in one of his letters in 1934, Scott writes: “Of course, I drink too much, and it bothers me. But if I hadn't been drinking, I'm not sure I could have lasted that long."

At the same time, he composes stories for magazines, and at the end of 1939 he took up the novel The Last Tycoon, in which he managed to write only six chapters. His creativity was exhausted. After a brilliant youthful success (at twenty-three he became the most popular author), after a long disappointment, which became the theme of almost all of his works - from "The Great Gatsby" to the novel "Tender is Night", a crisis came: complete mental and physical exhaustion. When the editor-in-chief of the magazine, for whom Fitzgerald was to prepare a series of articles, demanded that the contract be fulfilled, he wrote out the phrase “I cannot write” five hundred times by hand in order to work off the advance paid.

Fitzgerald's longest and most desperate binge began in February 1939. For three months, nurses were on duty at his bedside day and night. He told his friends that he had a relapse of tuberculosis (they, of course, suspected a relapse of alcoholism). The last binge ended in September 1940, and in December Fitzgerald died of a second heart attack.

There is a rather radical opinion of one of the modern psychiatrists O. G. Vilensky, who believes that "Francis Scott Fitzgerald suffered from schizophrenia with hebephrenic syndrome from childhood, and the writer's alcoholism was most likely a desperate attempt to compensate for his psychopathology," which is difficult to agree with.

Presumptive diagnosis

Drunken form of alcohol dependence. Hysterical personality disorder. In connection with a decrease in creativity, depressive episodes with a suicidal attempt come to the fore.


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