Babylon Revisited


esource Pack for: Babylon Revisited , by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Created by Rachel Holland


F. Scott Fitzgerald, best known for his novel The Great Gatsby , was a writer who came of age during the Roaring Twenties and subsequent Great Depression in the United States. Most of his works focus on the before-during-after of the Wall Street Crash, and the looming inevitability of this event and its long-term ramifications. Fitzgerald is now known as a member of the Lost Generation (coined by Gertrude Stein, host to the Paris group): a group of writers and artists who were disenfranchised by the formative events of post-World War I and the Wall Street Crash, who eventually became expatriates reflecting on their experiences while living in Europe, where the effects of the Crash were delayed and weakened. Fitzgerald himself coined the term the Jazz Age when referring to the 1920s, otherwise known widely as the Roaring Twenties. His major works centre around the excess and extravagance of this time, and his reflection on how the threat of the Crash and Great Depression tainted the memories of this decade.

Babylon Revisited (1931) is a semi-autobiographical work which is set in Paris, 1930. It follows Charlie Wales, an ex-stockbroker who has returned to Paris, which stands as the last bastion of the Jazz Age, in order to reclaim custody of his daughter Honoria. He previously lost custody of Honoria to his in-laws Marion and Lincoln Peters, after the death of his wife Helen during their wild partying of the Jazz Age. Charlie lost all of his money in the Crash, and subsequently travelled around Europe “finding himself” until he felt reformed enough to reclaim his daughter. Throughout the story he is tempted back to his old ways by revisiting his old haunt, The Ritz, coming across old friends, Duncan and Lorraine, and his conversations with the barkeeper, Alix, which lure him back towards drinking.

Context for this short story is crucial in understanding the themes and tone. Students who have previously read or studied The Great Gastby will be advantaged, as the cultural context carries through to the flashbacks Charlie experiences of his partying during the Jazz Age. It is recommended that students have a firm understanding of the terms the Jazz Age or Roaring Twenties, the Wall Street Crash, and the Great Depression, in terms of the middle to upper class of America. John Green’s Crash Course videos are extremely useful for this, as they cover a huge range of information in a very short period of time. Teachers can also utilise sites like EdPuzzle to ensure students are retaining the most important information.