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Friday, December 15, 2023

You mustn't confuse a single failure with a final defeat.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald knew failure intimately. This may seem strange, considering Fitzgerald is now regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. But during his lifetime, he achieved only temporary success in the 1920s, with his two novels “This Side of Paradise” and “The Beautiful and Damned.” His 1925 book "The Great Gatsby" — today hailed as a contender for the “Great American Novel” — was a commercial failure, despite generally positive reviews. By the 1930s, Fitzgerald was struggling with finances and alcoholism while his works declined in popularity. “Tender Is the Night,” his fourth and final novel — from which this quote comes — was published in 1934. Fitzgerald considered it his crowning achievement and was therefore baffled when it received little fanfare upon its release. But Ernest Hemingway reflected the thoughts of many readers when he later remarked, “A strange thing is that in retrospect [Fitzgerald’s] ‘Tender Is the Night’ gets better and better.”

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