Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born on 24th of September 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnessota. Although he died on 21st of December 1940, at the age of 44, Fitzgerald is considered one of the greatest American novelists. He wrote and published to magazines many short stories. These include: “The Ice Palace”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “The Rich Boy” and more.
Nevertheless, for the sake of this article, we will focus entirely on his novels. He managed to publish 4 novels while he was alive, while his 5th, “The Last Tycoon” (which remained unfinished), was published posthumously in 1941. Therefore, we will rank these 5 novels from worst to best. Let’s begin:
5) The Last Tycoon (1941)
It might seem a bit unfair to some, but this novel remained unfinished. We cannot know if it would reach the grandiose of his previous novels. It seems a bit repetitive on form and content to his other works. It is not a bad novel, but not the one you should start with.
4) This Side of Paradise (1920)
The debut novel of Francis Scott Fitzgerald was the one that made him famous. His name became popular and his fame spread very fast throughout the country. With this novel, Fitzgerald was the first to highlight the Jazz Age, a period where jazz music gained popularity worldwide. The themes of narcissism and eccentricity appear during the presentation and the unfolding of the characters. We do not rank it higher, because we strongly believe that Fitzgerald improved his craftmanship on his next novels.
3) The Beautiful and Damned (1922)
This is probably one of the two most personal novels Fitzgerald wrote. The two characters of the novel, Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert, are literally Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. The novel focuses on their endeavours with the social elite of New York and their absurd behaviour. Cynical, yet realistic, it has survived through the passage of time and is relevant even in our days.
2) Tender is the Night (1934)
Alcoholism and mental illness. 12 years after “The Beautiful and Damned”, Fitzgerald again reflects on his own life and his marriage with his wife, Zelda. While writing this novel, Fitzgerald was an alcoholic, while his wife had been hospitalized several times. Many essays have claimed that Fitzgerald, with this novel, was trying to figure out the mistakes he had done all these years. Whether he achieved that or not, he delivered a great novel. The reviews were enthusiastic and that’s why we rank it as his second best.
1) The Great Gatsby (1925)
A few months after its publication, the reviews for “The Great Gatsby” were not as positive as for his first two novels. Fitzgerald was disappointed, because he believed that they could not understand his point. And he was correct. “The Great Gatsby” discusses several themes that would be relevant on the years to come. The American dream, the class differences, the gender relations are only a few of them. And obviously, the excessive parties of the social elite. Fitzgerald managed to capture the dreams and hopes of young Americans. Keep in mind that 20’s was a period of stability in the U.S.A. Before the Wall Street Clash of 1929. Where everyone could chase the American Dream. And “The Great Gatsby” was the book to illustrate that.