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Dorothy Parker and The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and first published in 1925 during the height of the Roaring Twenties in America. The book was a huge success.

At the time of The Great Gatsby’s release, Dorothy Parker, a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, was thirty-two years old, living and working in New York City, and collaborating with George S. Kaufman on the screenplay for the film “Business Is Business”. and contemplating her second suicide attempt.

The main character of The Great Gatsby is Jay Gatsby, a World War I veteran who wanted to reunite with Daisy Buchannan, the love he lost five years earlier. Coincidentally, Dorothy Rothschild Parker’s first husband, Edwin Pond Parker II, was also a World War I veteran whose heart was broken by his true love, Dottie. Edwin wanted his wife to move with him from New York to Connecticut. He decided that a divorce was in order. He kept the Parker name.

Dorothy Parker’s ‘best friend’ and nemesis, playwright Lillian Hellman, published a memoir revealing that Dorothy and F. Scott Fitzgerald had had a brief affair. One will never know, beyond The Great Gatsby, which of Fitzgerald’s writings were ever influenced by his friend and former lover.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Rothschild Parker had much in common. They were both celebrated and prolific authors who grew up in wealthy families. They attended private Catholic schools (although Dorothy’s father, Jacob Henry Rothschild, was Jewish). They both had a passion for writing and enjoyed early success. Both authors prospered financially during the Depression era of the 1930s.

Dorothy and F. Scott also enjoyed drinking alcohol to excess. Dorothy joked that she once attended Alcoholics Anonymous, but they wanted her to stop drinking right then and there!

F. Scott and Dorothy led turbulent personal lives. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was admitted to a hospital that caught fire and resulted in her death. Dorothy Parker’s second and third husband, Allan Campbell (they were married twice), was bisexual and died in bed with her from an overdose of pills.

During their lifetimes, both Parker and Fitzgerald wrote for the Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. Both were screenwriters in Hollywood, although Dorothy was successful in this field (nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing A Star Is Born), Fitzgerald was not.

Ironically, the central character of The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, rose from rags to riches before he died. Whereas both Dorothy Parker and F. Scott Fitzgerald in their own lifetimes went from wealth and success to struggle before they died.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of 44 while writing his last novel, “The Last Tycoon’s Love.” Dorothy Parker attended her funeral… Dorothy Parker also died of a heart attack in 1967 at the age of 73, while she was writing her autobiography, “The Events Leading Up to the Tragedy.” Both writers left behind their unfinished manuscripts. However, Dorothy’s autobiography mysteriously disappeared after her death…

F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing himself to be a failure because none of his writing came close to the success of The Great Gatsby. Dorothy Parker died nearly penniless after being blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy-era communist scare. He once quoted Dorothy as saying, “I’ll never accomplish anything. That’s perfectly clear to me.”

Dorothy Parker’s life and struggles have been captured in movies, plays, and the author’s one-woman show titled “Dorothy Parker’s Room Enough For Two.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life has also been depicted on film: The Great Gatsby was made into several feature films, including the most recent starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Great Gatsby has become required reading for most high school students in the United States in recent decades; making F. Scott Fitzgerald a household name. As for Dorothy Parker, unfortunately, many people today do not recognize who she is…

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