The Jazz Age

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  • The Jazz Age
    • What was it?
      • It was a period of wild economic prosperity, cultural flowering and a shaking up of social mores.
      • The fun lasted for ten years and then, as Fitzgerald so eloquently put it, "leaped to a spectacular death in October 1929."
      • The 1920s dawned on an America ready for peace and prosperity. The evil of war had been defeated, and the next great threat in Europe was not yet visible on the horizon.
      • A booming stock market contributed to a huge growth in consumer spending, as investors saw their wealth (on paper) soar.
      • This infusion of new money brought with it a new morality for the young social set, one less concerned with the traditional values of past generations and more interested in individualism and modernism.
      • The Nineteenth Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote, and (probably more important to Fitzgerald's fiction) the speakeasies were the first place in America where it became acceptable for a woman who wasn't a prostitute to drink and smoke in public.
    • How does it relate to the novel?
      • In New York the Jazz Age was a time where hardly anybody worried about money. “It was in such a profusion around you.” and prodigality belonged to everybody’s life-style
      • Gatsby’s parties are typical for this time period. On his extravagant festivities “charm, notoriety [and] mere good manners weighted more than money as a social asset.”
      • The way the people dress during this jazz age period is also very interesting. Their hair is “shorn in strange new ways” and around the women’s necks are “shawls beyond the dreams of Castile”. They wear “golden and silver slippers” and the best example is Gatsby “in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie” himself.
    • How does it relate to Fitzgerald?
      • It was the defining era of Fitzgerald's life as a writer. He reached the peak of his fame with the 1925 publication of The Great Gatsby, a book that perfectly captured the era's moods and styles.
      • "It was an age of miracles," Fitzgerald wrote of the Jazz Age. "It was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire."
      • The Twenties gave Fitzgerald the settings for his greatest works. All of his novels are set in locations where Fitzgerald himself lived for a substantial period of time.

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