Fitzgerald never traveled to Ithaca, but Cornell figures prominently in his life, as it was a Cornell alumnus who launched his literary career and a long time Cornell English professor who helped to restore his lost reputation and establish him as a major American writer.
Dan McCall is Professor Emeritus of American Studies at Cornell University. He has been teaching Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby for many years.
Arthur Mizener, who taught English at Cornell from 1951 to 1973, wrote the first critical biography of Fitzgerald, The Far Side of Paradise (1951), a work that enjoyed both critical and popular success and is credited with initiating a revival of interest in Fitzgerald, an interest that continues to this day with the selection of The Great Gatsby for Cornell University’s 2006 New Student Reading Project.
George Jean Nathan, Class of 1904, was the co-editor of the literary magazine, The Smart Set: A Magazine of Cleverness. In the spring of 1919 Nathan paid a then unknown and struggling Fitzgerald—who had written 19 stories and received 122 rejections over the previous year—the sum of $30 for his story, “Babes in the Wood.” It was Fitzgerald’s first commercial story sale.