Now, a Literary Moment...
While the term Jitterbug may refer to a dance step, it also defines the restless spirit of the 1920's Jazz Age, a term coined by writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Book Critic Maureen Corrigan on Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
Maureen Corrigan: First of all the characters can't sit still. So the jitteriness that critics talk about is characterized in the Jazz Age, that informs the dances that everyone is doing and the wild drinking and the fascination with the automobile, it's all there in the book. I mean these characters the minute they sit still they get the great idea to drive into New York or if they're in New York they're driving out into Long Island. They are never seem to be able to stay put and there is something almost too frenetic about their movements and they're searching for a good time that I think we associate with the Jazz Age. Everyone is trying really hard to have a good time.
This restless and syncopated lifestyle is masterfully captured in Fitzgerald's use of language.
There's slangy language and even though you certainly wouldn't call Fitzgerald a choppy writer, people talk in quick burst of dialogue and it does move quickly and then still it contains the most poetic, lyrical, overarching statements about America than any American writer ever wrote. So how does he do it?
Maureen Corrigan on F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age classic, The Great Gatsby.
This Literary Moment was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.
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