May Day (short story)

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"May Day" is a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in Smart Set in 1920.


The story uses the May Day Riots of 1919 as historical backdrop. During these events, as the lower-class is fighting for certain causes, a group of privileged Yale alumni meet for a dance.


May Day was sold directly to Smart Set before Fitzgerald had a literary agent (later Harold Ober). It is noted that Fitzgerald based some of the events on those he experienced in New York City.[1] The city is detailed as both a source of unfathomable creative inspiration and horrid realities.

The story is noteworthy for its length, the familiar themes of lost youth and wealth as well as two distinct yet interrelated plots. All were aspects Fitzgerald would revisit throughout his literary career. Fitzgerald described the story as illustrating a "general hysteria...that inaugurated the Jazz Age..."

During the story a Jewish man is beat up by a crowd as he expounds socialist rhetoric. Fitzgerald, however, was not an anti-semite, and his characterizing of the Jewish man can be seen as a commentary of the brutality of the crowd contrasted with the man's wit and fervor.[2]


  1. ^ May Day: An Introduction
  2. ^ Notes on F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Passing of the Great Race M Gidley - Journal of American Studies, 1973

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