Professor Jonathan Jones on the Problem with “Home” in F. Scott Fitzgerald
France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still that quality of the idea, was harder to utter – it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of heart. “The Swimmers” (1929) F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Professor Jonathan Jones will present a paper at the 15th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference in Paris and Toulouse, which will run from June 24 to 29, 2019. The conference theme is “Place and Placelessness” and its focus will be on less documented regions in Southern France, specifically the Pyrenees, where Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda spent time together during the 1920s. Professor Jones’ presentation is entitled Nostalgia and Modernity – The problem with ‘”home” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Swimmers,” “I’d Die For You” and The Love of the Last Tycoon.
In the wake of the First World War, the word “home” begins to engender a new critical and aesthetic locus for examining the relationship between nostalgia and modernity. Professor Jones wants to ask how F. Scott Fitzgerald in his short stories “The Swimmers” and “I’d Die For You” intuits the split personality of an American culture during the boom period, where “home” for ex-patriots signifies a language and a landscape both familiar and estranged. He submits that Fitzgerald captures the idea of being ‘lost’, as a thematic transition between the memory of America as “home” during the late 1920s, and his work as a screenwriter in Hollywood during the late 1930s. Jones’ contention is that by destabilizing the nostalgic assumptions of a historical past, Fitzgerald conceives a new referent for American modernity, where “home” invokes a darker mood of both psychological and physical disorientation. He examines how Fitzgerald expresses his own attitude towards America as a more self-reflexive approach towards “home”, in the attempt to maintain his own critical and creative compass following the Wall Street Crash and the Depression. In doing so, he proposes that Fitzgerald deciphers a telling relationship between Hollywood and the idea of “home”, underlining a more problematic concept of American identity in his final unfinished novel The Love of The Last Tycoon.
Professor Jones teaches English composition at JCU. His research interests are largely concerned with questions of New Historicism and comparative literature; specifically, he is currently focused on F. Scott Fitzgerald The Vinland Sagas, and the American Frontier. He has been published and has work forthcoming in journals such as Arlington Literary Journal, East Jasmine Review, The Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Washington Square and War, Literature and the Arts.