Between the Lines of Legacy: How F. Scott Fitzgerald Transformed the Ink of Struggle into the Gold of Influence

Evan Swensen
3 min readJan 31, 2024

The magnificence of The Great Gatsby lies in the beauty of Fitzgerald’s prose and its relevance across generations. The book itself didn’t achieve significant commercial success in Fitzgerald’s lifetime. This harsh reality only exacerbated the problem he had initially struggled with: Would his work affect the society he aimed to represent?

His life post-Gatsby” included:

  • Financial struggle and declining health.
  • A tumultuous relationship with his wife.
  • A deepening sense of existential dread.

And yet, he continued to write, not because he wanted to say something but because he had something urgent to say, an undying message that the struggles of life could not silence. He would go on to pen other great works like Tender is the Night, where he delved into the psychological complexities of human relationships and the American expatriate experience in Europe.

Zelda, his muse and wife, became a focal point of his writings. It was as if the struggles he faced — his tumultuous marriage, financial hardships, and battles with alcoholism — each contributed a layer to the multi-dimensional worlds he created. The problems he faced in his own life, laden with hardship and complexities, found a way to channel themselves into his creative process. They became microcosms of broader societal issues — class division, gender roles, and the elusive nature of the American Dream.

Though Fitzgerald passed away believing he was somewhat of a failure, his works saw a revival during World War II. The Council on Books in Wartime distributed The Great Gatsby to American soldiers overseas, and the book found a new and appreciative audience. It was as if Fitzgerald’s magnum opus was resurrected, solving the problem posthumously that had initially plagued him: would his work be influential?

Suddenly, Fitzgerald became more than an author; he was a philosopher whose ideas transcended his time, capturing the imagination of young and old alike. Now, college curricula regularly include his works. Gatsby has been adapted into multiple films, stage plays, and even an opera. Researchers continue to dissect the layers of societal critique embedded in his storytelling, and even popular media often references his quotes and characters. Today, he stands immortalized in the pantheon of authors who have profoundly impacted literature and society.

Indeed, it’s almost poetic that Fitzgerald’s life epitomizes the ebb and flow of the characters in his stories, wrapped in a dream that’s as fragile as it is elusive. The struggle, the resurgence, and the everlasting influence portray a journey that echoes through time, reminding every budding writer, scholar, and reader of the power encased within the 26 alphabets arranged in different patterns. His writings encourage people to ponder, question, and delve deeper into understanding the complexities of society and human nature.

His words penetrate the hearts and minds of those who engage with them, encouraging them to think, debate, and change. Therefore, these authors do not just publish books; they publish legacies, each a monumental contribution to the ever-unfolding tapestry of human civilization.

“We don’t want to write the laws; we want to publish the books.” Evan Swensen

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Evan Swensen

Book publisher, editor, author, Author Masterminds charter member, founder of Readers and Writers Book Club, and bush pilot.