One way to gauge their friendship is from the letters F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway wrote each other. On this evidence Hemingway emerges as a better friend than his self-portrait in A Moveable Feast shows—until 1936. Both were savers. Fifty-four pieces of their correspondence have been located—twenty-eight from Fitzgerald and twenty-six from Hemingway. Most of Fitzgerald’s end of the correspondence has been published, but none of Hemingway’s letters to Fitzgerald has been printed in its entirety. Since Hemingway’s widow and executrix is honoring his prohibition of the publication of his letters, they will not be available in the near future. Mrs. Hemingway has generously permitted phrases from Hemingway’s letters to be published in this book.
The first two letters in the series set the tone for much of the correspondence. Hemingway dominates and Fitzgerald defers. On 1 July 1925 Hemingway, en route to Pamplona and the Fiesta of San Fermin that would provide the material for The Sun Also Rises (1926), wrote a three-page letter from Burguete joking about Scott’s drinking and sexual standards: “I wonder what your idea of heaven would be—A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists all powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death.” Ernest’s own idea of heaven would be a bull ring, a private trout stream, two houses in town—one for his wife and children and one for his mistresses—and a bull ranch. In the town houses The Dial, The American Mercury, and The New Republic would be used for toilet paper. On his way to the bull ranch he would toss coins to his illegitimate children and would send his son to town to lock the chastity belts on the mistresses because Scott Fitzgerald was in the area.
The first surviving letter from Fitzgerald—postmarked 30 November 1925—is, characteristically, an apology.
14 Rue de Tilsitt
Dear Ernest: I was quite ashamed the other morning. Not only in disturbing Hadly, but in foistering that “Juda Lincoln” alias George Morgenthau apon you. However it is only fair to say that the deplorable man who entered your appartment Sat. morning was not me but a man named Johnston who has often been mistaken for me.
Zelda, evidences to the contrary, was not suffering from lack of care but from a nervous hysteria which is only releived by a doctor bearing morphine. We both went to Ballau Wood next day to recuperate.
For some reason I told you a silly lie—or rather an exageration, silly because the truth itself was enough to make me sufficiently jubilant. The Sat. Eve. Post. raised me to $2750.00 and not $3000. which is a jump of $750. in one month. It was probably in my mind that I could now get $3000. from the smaller magazines. The Post merely met the Hearst offer, but that is something they seldom do.
What garbled versions of the McAlmon episode or the English orgy we lately participated in, I told you, I don’t know. It is true that I saved McAlmon from a beating he probably deserved and that we went on some wild parties in London with a certain Marchioness of Mil-ford Haven whom we first met with Telulah Bankhead. She was about half royalty, I think. Anyhow she was very nice—anything else I may have added about the relations between the Fitzgeralds and the house of Windsor is pure fiction.
I’m crazy to read the comic novel [The Torrents of Spring]. Are you going to the Mclieshe’s Tuesday? I hope Hadly is well now. Please believe that we send our
Best Wishes to
Ernest M. Hemminway
Hemingway’s first American book, In Our Time, was published by Boni & Liveright on 5 October 1925 in a first printing of 1335 copies. This collection of stories included “Indian Camp,” “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife,” “The End of Something,” “The Three-Day Blow,” “The Battler,” “A Very Short Story,” “Soldier’s Home,” “The Revolutionist,” “Mr. & Mrs. Elliot,” “Cat in the Rain,” “Out of Season,” “Cross Country Snow,” “My Old Man,” and “Big Two-Hearted River”—as well as the vignettes from the 1924 Paris in our time. It was a strong volume, perhaps the most promising first volume of stories by an American; but story collections by unknown writers do not sell. Boni & Liveright was investing in Hemingway’s future. A second printing was not needed until March 1927—after the success of The Sun Also Rises. The dust jacket for In Our Time had a display of blurbs by Sherwood Anderson, Gilbert Seldes, Donald Ogden Stewart, Waldo Frank, Edward J. O’Brien, and Ford Madox Ford—who called Hemingway “the best writer in America.” Hemingway later broke with all of them, except O’Brien. Fitzgerald’s review-essay, which did not appear in The Bookman until May 1926, was entitled “How to Waste Material: A Note on My Generation.” After a long discussion of the failure of American writers to deal honestly with American material, he turns to Hemingway.
“In Our Time” consists of fourteen stories, short and long, with fifteen vivid miniatures interpolated between them. When I try to think of any contemporary American short stories as good as “Big Two-Hearted River”, the last one in the book, only Gertrude Stein’s “Melanctha”, Anderson’s “The Egg”, and Lardner’s “Golden Honeymoon” come to mind. It is the account of a boy on a fishing trip—he hikes, pitches his tent, cooks dinner, sleeps, and next morning casts for trout. Nothing more—but I read it with the most breathless unwilling interest I have experienced since Conrad first bent my reluctant eyes upon the sea.
The hero, Nick, runs through nearly all the stories, until the book takes on almost an autobiographical tint—in fact “My Old Man”, one of the two in which this element seems entirely absent, is the least successful of all. Some of the stories show influences but they are invariably absorbed and transmuted, while in “My Old Man” there is an echo of Anderson’s way of thinking in those sentimental “horse stories”, which inaugurated his respectability and also his decline four years ago.
But with “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife”, “The End of Something”, “The Three Day Blow”, “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot”, and “Soldier’s Home” you are immediately aware of something temperamentally new. In the first of these a man is backed down by a half breed Indian after committing himself to a fight. The quality of humiliation in the story is so intense that it immediately calls up every such incident in the reader’s past. Without the aid of a comment or a pointing finger one knows exactly the sharp emotion of young Nick who watches the scene.
The next two stories describe an experience at the last edge of adolescence. You are constantly aware of the continual snapping of ties that is going on around Nick. In the half stewed, immature conversation before the fire you watch the awakening of that vast unrest that descends upon the emotional type at about eighteen. Again there is not a single recourse to exposition. As in “Big Two-Hearted River”, a picture—sharp, nostalgic, tense—develops before your eyes. When the picture is complete a light seems to snap out, the story is over. There is no tail, no sudden change of pace at the end to throw into relief what has gone before.
Nick leaves home penniless; you have a glimpse of him lying wounded in the street of a battered Italian town, and later of a love affair with a nurse on a hospital roof in Milan. Then in one of the best of the stories he is home again. The last glimpse of him is when his mother asks him, with all the bitter world in his heart, to kneel down beside her in the dining room in Puritan prayer.
Anyone who first looks through the short interpolated sketches will hardly fail to read the stories themselves. “The Garden at Mons” and “The Barricade” are profound essays upon the English officer, written on a postage stamp. “The King of Greece’s Tea Party”, “The Shooting of the Cabinet Ministers”, and “The Cigar-store Robbery” particularly fascinated me, as they did when Edmund Wilson first showed them to me in an earlier pamphlet, over two years ago.
Disregard the rather ill considered blurbs upon the cover. It is sufficient that here is no raw food served up by the railroad restaurants of California and Wisconsin. In the best of these dishes there is not a bit to spare. And many of us who have grown weary of admonitions to “watch this man or that” have felt a sort of renewal of excitement at these stories wherein Ernest Hemingway turns a corner into the street.
Hemingway now felt that Boni & Liveright was not the right publisher for him. Fitzgerald wanted him for Scribners, and Hemingway continued to correspond with Maxwell Perkins after signing with Boni & Liveright. On 9 June 1925 he wrote Perkins calling Gatsby “an absolutely first rate book.” But Hemingway seemed tied up. His contract for In Our Time gave Boni & Liveright the option on his next three books, which would lapse only if the publisher declined the book submitted after In Our Time.
In the summer of 1925—while awaiting publication of In Our Time—Hemingway began a novel based on the Fiesta of San Fermin at Pamplona, which every year occupies a week in early July and was his favorite bull-fighting event. As usual, he organized his own mob for the 1925 trip: in addition to Hadley, he brought along Lady Duff Twysden, an alcoholic and promiscuous English remittance woman; Pat Guthrie, an alcoholic Scottish remittance man who was her fiance-lover; Harold Loeb, an American writer who had recently enjoyed an affair with Duff; Bill Smith, Ernest’s boyhood friend from northern Michigan; and humorist Donald Ogden Stewart. The Duff-Guthrie-Loeb mix promised awkwardness—if not worse—and the promise was fulfilled as Hemingway became disgusted by Loeb’s conduct and turned nasty. Whether Hemingway was also jealous because Loeb had slept with Duff remains a matter for speculation. These people were all clearly identifiable in The Sun Also Rises. Duff Twysden is Brett Ashley; Pat Guthrie is Mike Campbell; Harold Loeb is Robert Cohn; and Smith and Stewart were amalgamated in Bill Gorton. Hemingway began writing the novel in Spain on 21 July 1925—his twenty-sixth birthday—and finished the first draft in Paris on 21 September. Before rewriting the novel, he wrote in one week during November a parody of Sherwood Anderson, The Torrents of Spring, which he submitted to Boni & Liveright in December 1925 as the second book under his contract.
Anderson’s short stories had impressed and influenced Hemingway during his apprentice days. They had been friendly in Chicago in 1921, before the Hemingways went to Paris, and Anderson had encouraged the aspiring writer. One of Hemingway’s first good stories, “My Old Man,” shows Anderson’s influence. Hemingway regarded Anderson’s 1925 novel, Dark Laughter, as pretentious and faked. In The Torrents of Spring he undertook to provide corrective parody—as Henry Fielding had done by writing Shamela and Joseph Andrews in response to Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. Since Anderson was the current star author of Boni & Liveright, the suspicion that Hemingway wrote Torrents to break his contract is inescapable; but he always denied it. Related to this point is the question of whether Fitzgerald was a co-conspirator, since he wanted Hemingway to join Maxwell Perkins’ Scribners stable with him. A recently discovered Fitzgerald letter indicates that he and Hemingway had not hatched a scheme to use Torrents as a contract-breaker. Writing to Horace Liveright and Boni & Liveright editor T. R. Smith, Fitzgerald tried to persuade them to publish Torrents:
14 Rue de Tilsitt
Dear Horace and Tom:
Ernest Hemminway showed me his new book the other day (the satiric book: The Torrents of Spring) and seemed a bit in doubt as to how you were going to recieve it. I don’t know how much value, if any, you attach to my opinion but it might interest you to know that to one rather snooty reader, at least, it seems about the best comic book ever written by an American. It is simply devastating to about seven-eighths of the work of imitation Andersons, to facile and “correct” culture and to this eternal looking beyond appearances for the “real,” on the part of people who have never even been conscious of appearances. The thing is like a nightmare of literary pretensions behind which a certain hilarious order establishes itself before the end—so it hasn’t that quality of leaving a painful passionate funnyness as the last taste in your mouth. Like Alice in Wonderland it sends you back to the sane world above cant and fashion in which most of us flatter ourselves that we live—sometimes.
Beyond that it is absorbingly interesting—the failure to be that is the one unforgivable sin. Frankly I hope you won’t like it—because I am something of a ballyhoo man for Scribners and I’d some day like to see all my generation (3) that I admire rounded up in the same coop—but knowing my entheusiasm and his own trepidation Ernest agreed with me that such a statement of the former might break the ice for what is an extraordinary and unusual production.
With Best Wishes to you Both
F. Scott Fitzg—
Hemingway submitted Torrents to Liveright on 7 December with a cover letter mentioning Fitzgerald’s high opinion of the work. Fitzgerald appears in Torrents in a ponderously facetious “Author’s Note to the Reader”:
It was at this point in the story, reader, that Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald came to our home one afternoon, and after remaining for quite a while suddenly sat down in the fireplace and would not (or was it could not, reader?) get up and let the fire burn something else so as to keep the room warm. I know, reader, that these things sometimes do not show in a story, but, just the same, they are happening, and think what they mean to chaps like you and me in the literary game. If you should think this part of the story is not as good as it might have been remember, reader, that day in and day out all over the world things like this are happening. Need I add, reader, that I have the utmost respect for Mr. Fitzgerald, and let anyone else attack him and I would be the first to spring to his defense! And that includes you, too, reader, though I hate to speak out bluntly like this, and take the risk of breaking up a friendship of the sort that ours has gotten to be.
Fitzgerald’s response to this passage is not known; but he was probably not greatly amused, for it shows him as helplessly drunk. Although Fitzgerald at that time cultivated his reputation as a drinker, he resisted being classified as a drunk—an image which he felt would injure the serious reception of his novels. Whatever Hemingway intended in his treatment of Fitzgerald in Torrents, it should have served as a warning. The next time Hemingway used Fitzgerald in print—in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”—the effect would be unequivocal. Hemingway presented the carbon-copy typescript of Torrents to the Fitzgeralds, inscribed “To Scott and Zelda with love from Ernest.”
On 15 December 1925, Hemingway sent Fitzgerald from Schruns in the Austrian alps a little treatise on Subject, stating that war is the best subject for fiction because it provides so much material that is otherwise unavailable. Nonetheless, he consoles Scott for having missed the war, admitting that he himself did not get any worth while material out of the war—except personally— because he was too young. Other good subjects are love, money, avarice, and murder. He cites impotence as a dull subject—his private joke, since that was a subject of The Sun Also Rises.
Horace Liveright declined The Torrents of Spring by cable and wrote Hemingway on 30 December 1925: “… who on earth do you think would buy it? Apart from the fact it is a bitter, and I might say vicious caricature of Sherwood Anderson, it is entirely cerebral. . . . We disagree with you and Scott Fitzgerald and Louis Bromfield and Dos Passos that it is a fine American Satire.” Live-right wanted to see Hemingway’s novel. At this point, Fitzgerald became actively involved as Hemingway’s agent with Perkins, although it is impossible to determine how much authority he really had in the matter. At the end of December Fitzgerald sent Perkins a confidential report on the status of Torrents:
(2) Hemmingways book (not his novel) is a 28,000 word satire on Sherwood Anderson and his imitators called The Torrents of Spring. I loved it, but believe it wouldn’t be popular, + Liveright have refused it—they are backing Anderson and the book is almost a vicious parody on him. You see I agree with Ernest that Anderson’s last two books have let everybody down who believed in him—I think they’re cheap, faked, obscurantic and awful. Hemmingway thinks, but isn’t yet sure to my satisfaction, that their refusal sets him free from his three book (letter) agreement with them. In that case I think he’ll give you his novel (on condition you’ll publish satire first—probable sale 1000 copies) which he is now revising in Austria. Harcourt has just written Louie Bromfield that’ to get the novel they’ll publish satire, sight unseen (utterly confidential) and Knopf is after him via Aspinwall Brad-ley.
He and I are very thick + he’s marking time until he finds out how much he’s bound to Liveright. If he’s free I’m almost sure I can get satire to you first + then if you see your way clear you can contract for the novel tout ensemble. He’s anxious too to get a foothold in your magazine—one story I’ve sent you— the other, to my horror he’d given for about $40 to an “arty” publication called This Quarter, over here.
He’s dead set on having the satire published first. His idea has always been to come to you + his only hesitation has been that Harcourt might be less conservative in regard to certain somewhat broad scenes. His adress is:
Herr Ernest Hemmingway
Don’t even tell him I’ve discussed his Liveright + Harcourt relations with you.
As soon as he has definate dope I’ll pass it on to you I wanted a strong wire to show you were as interested, and more, than Harcourt. Did you know your letter just missed by two weeks getting In Our Time. It had no sale of course but I think the novel may be something extraordinary—Tom Boyd and E. E. Cummings + Biggs combined.
Since Fitzgerald warns Perkins not to let Hemingway know how much he has revealed in this letter, it seems that his role in bringing Hemingway to Scribners was at least partly self-delegated. It is clear that Hemingway did seek Fitzgerald’s advice. On 31 December he reported to Fitzgerald from Schruns on his negotiations with Boni & Liveright, Knopf, and Harcourt, Brace. Although Alfred Harcourt is eager to sign him up, Ernest is willing to risk losing the contract in order to become a Scribners author because of his respect for Perkins and because he would like to be published with Scott. Ernest asks him to write Perkins preparing the way for The Torrents of Spring. He is relying on Scott in this matter and asks whether he should go to America to see Perkins. Fitzgerald cabled Perkins on 8 January 1926: YOU CAN GET HEMINGWAYS FINISHED NOVEL PROVIDED YOU PUBLISH UNPROMISING SATIRE HARCOURT HAS MADE DEFINITE OFFER WIRE IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT QUALIFICATIONS. Perkins responded the same day: PUBLISH NOVEL AT FIFTEEN PERCENT AND ADVANCE IF DESIRED ALSO SATIRE UNLESS OBJECTIONABLE OTHER THAN FINANCIALLY. On the 11th Perkins cabled Fitzgerald again: CONFIDENCE ABSOLUTE KEEN TO PUBLISH HIM.
Perkins was ready to accept Hemingway’s novel and an uncommercial satire sight unseen, largely on his trust in Fitzgerald’s enthusiasm. Fitzgerald had not read the novel. Although Hemingway had a complete draft of The Sun Also Rises, he would not let Fitzgerald read it. “confidence absolute” expressed Perkins’ confidence in Fitzgerald’s instinct as well as his confidence in Hemingway’s future.
On 13 January 1926 Perkins wrote Fitzgerald detailing his position:
I did my best with that cable, but there was a fear that this satire—although in the hands of such a writer it could hardly be rightly so upon any theory—might be suppressible… But I believe that as compared with most others [publishers], Hemingway would be better off in our hands because we are absolutely true to our authors and support them loyally in the face of losses for a long time, when we believe in their qualities and in them. It is that kind of a publisher that Hemingway probably needs, because I hardly think he could come into a large public immediately.
Early in 1926 Hemingway wrote from Schruns responding to Fitzgerald’s ranking of the In Our Time stories. Hemingway assigns grade I to “Big Two-Hearted River,” “Indian Camp,” “Soldier’s Home” and to first and last paragraphs of “Out of Season.” “Cat in the Rain”—a story about a young wife who wants a home married to a man who doesn’t want to be tied down by domesticity —was not about Hadley Hemingway, although Scott and Zelda thought it was. The story was based on a young couple Ernest met while covering the Genoa conference. Hadley did figure in “Out of Season,” which is virtually a report of what happened. Ernest says that his ear is sharper after an argument, and that he wrote the story directly on the typewriter after the bad fishing trip that produced the story. The drunken guide hanged himself after Ernest reported him, but he had left that out because he wanted to write a story that would be tragic without violence.
This six-page holograph letter goes on to discuss Hemingway’s attitude toward two Paris figures, Harold Stearns and Robert McAlmon. Stearns—who would appear in The Sun Also Rises as Harvey Stone—was a promising American writer who had gone to alcoholic seed in Paris. Fitzgerald was trying to help him, but Hemingway advises that nothing can be done about Stearns and that Scott should not give him any more money. McAlmon was an American expatriate writer who was better known as the publisher of the Paris-based Contact Editions. Upon his marriage to the English writer Bryher, McAlmon received a gift of money from her father, Sir John Ellerman. Much of it went into the Contact Editions, which published McAlmon’s work and that of other writers as well. McAlmon was capable of great generosity to other writers but was also a trouble-making gossiper. As his own work failed to achieve recognition, he became resentful of Hemingway’s success. McAlmon had been Hemingway’s first publisher when Contact brought out Three Stories & Ten Poems in 1923; and McAlmon may also have participated in the publication of in our time, which was jointly dedicated to McAlmon and William Bird.
Ernest reports to Scott that after he called McAlmon on something he said about Scott, McAlmon began accusing him of ingratitude, although Ernest doesn’t think that McAlmon did much for him. Ernest notes that he didn’t get anything for the “books” McAlmon published. (This was a weak position, for there was little to be made from 300 copies of a $2 publication—at 10 percent royalty, a maximum of $60. McAlmon gave Hemingway his first book publication, which greatly aided his career at a time when his stories were unplaceable.) Hemingway plans to retaliate by writing a story ridiculing McAlmon. The story was not written, but his feud with McAlmon became increasingly nasty and involved Fitzgerald. Someone less impressed with Hemingway than Fitzgerald was might have begun to feel a certain uneasiness at the developing record of his feuds. Ernest is getting two illustrated German war books for Scott. He is re-reading the eighteenth-century Navy novels of Frederick Marryat and recommends four: Peter Simple, Frank Mildmay, Mr. Midshipman Easy, and Snarley-yow or, the Dog Fiend. He is delighted by the discovery that Ostereich means The Eastern Kingdom and asks Scott to tell Zelda.
While Hemingway was making plans to go to New York from Schruns, Fitzgerald prepared the way for him, writing to Perkins in January from Salies-de-Bearn in the Pyrenees, where Zelda Fitzgerald was taking a cure for colitis: “To hear him talk you’d think Liveright had broken up his home and robbed him of millions— but thats because he knows nothing of publishing, except in the cucoo magazines, is very young and feels helpless so far away. You won’t be able to help liking him—he’s one of the nicest fellows I ever knew.”
Hemingway arrived in New York aboard the Mauretania on 9 February. His first call was at Boni & Liveright, where he and Horace Liveright agreed to terminate their contract. The next day Hemingway called on Perkins. By this time Perkins had almost certainly read The Torrents of Spring, for Donald Ogden Stewart had recovered the typescript from Boni & Liveright and delivered it to Scribners. Hemingway brought the first draft of The Sun Also Rises to New York, but there is no evidence that Perkins read it at this meeting. Perkins offered a $1500 advance on the parody and the novel against a 15 percent royalty. These terms were generous for a literary parody and a first novel. Perkins obviously liked Torrents, but it was certainly not commercial. The property was Ernest Hemingway, and Perkins—a brilliant talent prospector —was betting on him.
Perkins and Hemingway impressed each other. Perkins was forty-one. After graduating from Harvard, he had joined Scribners in 1910. From old New England stock, Perkins was personally reserved and conservative. Nonetheless, he was responsible for shifting the Scribners image from an old-line, traditional publisher to a publisher of the best new writers. His first major literary find had been F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his authors eventually included Ring Lardner, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. His relationships with his authors were close. Perkins was attracted to Hemingway by more than a recognition of talent, for he enjoyed masculine company. The father of five daughters, Perkins longed for a son. It has been said that his authors became surrogate sons. Nonetheless, Perkins was sometimes embarrassed by Hemingway. A favorite anecdote in American publishing involves Perkins’ inability to speak the obscenities he was trying to persuade Hemingway to omit from his writing. On one such occasion Hemingway got him to write the word “fuck” on his desk calendar. Later, while Perkins was out of the office, Charles Scribner came looking for him and was surprised to find the calendar notation. One version of the anecdote has it that when Perkins returned to the office, Scribner solicitously asked, “Don’t you want to take the rest of the day off, Max? You must be exhausted.”
Hemingway was in New York when Scribners published All the Sad Young Men, Fitzgerald’s third story collection, on 26 February. It was a strong volume, including “The Rich Boy” novelette, “Winter Dreams,” “Absolution,” and “ ’The Sensible Thing.’ “ The first printing of 10,000 copies sold rapidly, and two more printings of 3000 each were required.
Fitzgerald was out of touch in the Pyrenees. On about 1 March —after Hemingway had left New York—he sent Perkins more advice on dealing with Hemingway, delicately indicating that his ethics were shaky: “In any case he is temperamental in business, made so by these bogus publishers over here. If you take the other two things get a signed contract for The Sun Also Rises (novel) Anyhow this is my last word on the subject—confidential between you + me. Please destroy this letter.” The “other two things” refers to Torrents and the short story “Fifty Grand” Fitzgerald had urged Hemingway to submit to Scribner’s Magazine. Perkins asked Hemingway to cut the story for space reasons, not content. Hemingway was not able to cut it, but accepted the offer by the writer Manuel Komroff to cut it for him. Komroff’s editing was unsatisfactory, and the story did not appear until The Atlantic Monthly published it in July 1927. “Fifty Grand” triggered a permanent resentment against Fitzgerald in Hemingway because Fitzgerald had persuaded him to delete the anecdote about Jack Brennan’s fight with Benny Leonard which opened the story, because it was too well known. [Hemingway’s character Jack Brennan was based on Jack Britton, welterweight champion from 1919 to 1922. Benny Leonard was lightweight champion from 1917 to 1924. Britton beat Leonard on a foul in 1922.] When asked how he was able to beat Leonard, Brennan replies that Benny is a very smart boxer who is always thinking in the ring; all the time Benny was thinking, Brennan was hitting him. Hemingway regarded this comment as an important piece of boxing metaphysics and came to feel that it had been a mistake to accept Fitzgerald’s advice. In one of the typescripts of “Fifty Grand” that he saved, Hemingway noted: “1st 3 pages of story mutilated by Scott Fitzgerald with his [undecipherable].” When he wrote an unpublished essay, “The Art of the Short Story and Nine Stories to Prove It” in 1959, Hemingway blamed his acceptance of Fitzgerald’s bad advice on his own “humility.” Nevertheless, he acknowledged that Fitzgerald was more concerned about Hemingway’s career than his own.
In the first week of March 1926 Hemingway stopped off in Paris on his way back to Schruns and reported to Fitzgerald on his meeting with Perkins—as well as on the play version of The Great Gatsby, which he had seen on Broadway. Hemingway’s real reason for being in Paris was to see Pauline Pfeiffer, the Arkansas heiress with whom he was having a clandestine affair. He would write bitterly and guiltily about this affair in A Moveable Feast. From all accounts it is clear that Pauline moved in relentlessly on the Hemingway marriage, establishing herself as Hadley’s close friend and welcome guest on the Hemingways’ trips. Pauline urged Hemingway to publish The Torrents of Spring, against Hadley’s advice.
While Hemingway was rewriting The Sun Also Rises in winter-spring 1926 Fitzgerald was having trouble getting on with his own work. In 1926 he wrote only two undistinguished short stories, “Your Way and Mine” and “The Dance,” but his earnings for the year topped $25,000 from his share of the play and movie rights to The Great Gatsby. In his Ledger Fitzgerald reprovingly described 1925-26 as “Futile, shameful useless but the $30,000 rewards of 1924 work. Self disgust. Health gone.” He knew what he had to do at this point in his career: consolidate the achievement of Gatsby. His plan was to write an ambitious novel about the deterioration of a young American under the influence of expatriate life. This novel was to involve matricide; and the working titles were variously “Our Type,” “The World’s Fair,” “The Melarky Case,” and “The Boy Who Killed His Mother.” The murder material developed from his interest in the Dorothy Ellingson matricide case of 1925 and the sensational Leopold-Loeb case of 1924. He worked on the matricide plot with many interruptions from 1925 to 1930, accumulating five incomplete drafts.
The plot of the novel can be reconstructed from the drafts. Francis Melarky (the name indicates Fitzgerald’s identification with the character and his reservations about the material) is a twenty-one-year-old Southerner touring Europe, against his will, with his mother. The narrative opens with their arrival on the Riviera, at which point Francis has been beaten by the police in consequence of a drunken brawl in Rome. Before coming to Europe he had been dismissed from West Point and had then worked as a technician in Hollywood, where he had been involved with an actress. Francis has a quick and violent temper which his mother triggers by reminding him of his failures. Her attempts to control Francis have alienated him, so that she employs deceit. On the Riviera Francis is taken up by an attractive group of Americans led by Seth and Dinah Roreback (or Piper), which includes Abe Herkimer, an alcoholic composer. Francis attempts to obtain work at an American movie studio on the Riviera, but his plans are sabotaged by his mother, who regards movie people as a bad influence on him. With nothing better to do, he accepts the Rorebacks’ invitation to go to Paris. In Paris Francis falls in love with Dinah, who is flattered but does not develop any romantic feelings for him. The manuscripts break off at this point, but other sources indicate that Francis would suffer a breakdown—probably from drinking—and murder his mother in a fit of rage. The ways in which these drafts evolved into Tender Is the Night (1934) are clear, as Fitzgerald salvaged the characters and setting while abandoning the matricide material. Francis Melarky became Rosemary Hoyt; the Rorebacks became the Divers; Abe Herkimer became Abe North. The plot of Tender Is the Night concerns a psychiatrist who is ruined by his marriage to a wealthy former mental patient; this material drew upon Zelda Fitzgerald’s mental breakdown in 1930.
Fitzgerald discussed the plot and material of his new novel with Hemingway. In April 1926 Hemingway wrote from Paris to Fitzgerald on the Riviera announcing the completion of The Sun Also Rises rewrite—which he doesn’t think Scott will like—including a burlesque of Fitzgerald’s work-in-progress:
I have tried to follow the outline and spirit of the Great Gatsby but I feel I have failed somewhat because of never having been on Long Island. The hero, like Gatsby, is a Lake Superior Salmon Fisherman. (There are no salmon in Lake Superior) The action all takes place in Newport, R.I. and the heroine is a girl named Sophie Irene Loeb who kills her mother. The scene in which Sophie gives birth to twins in the death house at Sing Sing where she is waiting to be electrocuted for the murder of the father and sister of her, as then, unborn children I got from Dreiser but practically everything else in the book is either my own or yours. I know you’ll be glad to see it. The Sun Also Rises comes from Sophie’s statement as she is strapped into the chair as the current mounts.
Ernest plans to dedicate the novel to his son, with the line “This Collection of Instructive Anecdotes.” In case that worries Scott, The Sun Also Rises is not anecdotal— nor does it resemble Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer or Anderson’s Dark Laughter. He expresses his anger at Ernest Walsh, editor of This Quarter, who has attacked him in a poem; analyzes the aesthetic and psychological shortcomings of Fitzgerald’s close friend Ring Lardner; and urges him to write his novel with the ancillary income from The Great Gatsby. Ernest lists various gag benefactions he has arranged to help with Scott’s finances: Pauline Pfeiffer will give Scott her job on Vogue, and Ernest has arranged for all of his royalties to go to Scott. Ernest has not seen Scott’s article on him in The Bookman but thanks him for “services rendered.” He will bring the revised typescript of The Sun Also Rises to the Riviera and welcomes Scott’s advice on it. The six-page letter is signed “Herbert J. Horseshit.”
Hemingway regarded Fitzgerald’s financial problems as absurd, and on the 24th of April he wrote to Perkins repeating the joke about donating his royalties to Scott. Hemingway’s future royalties were problematical. The Torrents of Spring, published on 28 May 1926 in a printing of 1250 copies, sold slowly. It did provide a launching platform for The Sun Also Rises, for it was widely reviewed. Allen Tate’s review in The Nation called Hemingway “the best contemporary writer of eighteenth-century prose” and hailed Torrents as “the most economically realized humor of disproportion that this reviewer has read in American prose.” Tate was a friend of Hemingway’s at that time.
On the 4th of May, Hemingway wrote to Fitzgerald to say he missed him and wanted to talk to him. Later in the month Hemingway wrote from Madrid—in reply to a lost letter from Fitzgerald— apologizing for his April letter that seemed to dismiss Scott’s Bookman article. He explains that he was merely agreeing with Scott’s position that reviews didn’t help the writer unless they were favorable and promoted sales. The only instructional material in The Sun Also Rises is about “how people go to hell”; but if it worries Scott, Ernest will delete that line from the dedication. He admits that Scott is right about Ring Lardner. This letter is signed “Ernest M. Shit.”
Glenway Wescott recalls that in the summer of 1925 or 1926 Fitzgerald tried to persuade him to help launch Hemingway. Wescott—who would be travestied in The Sun Also Rises as Robert Prentiss—was impressed by Fitzgerald’s naive assumption that he shared the desire to aid a rival writer. Fitzgerald believed that Hemingway was “inimitably, essentially superior.” Wescott became convinced that Fitzgerald’s admiration for Hemingway culminated in the feeling that he could abandon his literary responsibilities to Hemingway. This view can certainly be challenged, for it discounts Fitzgerald’s considerable appetite for fame and even immortality. Nonetheless, Wescott’s testimony indicates the intensity of Fitzgerald’s commitment to Hemingway’s career.
Fitzgerald did not read the typescript of The Sun Also Rises until June 1926, when the Hemingways (who were joined by Pauline Pfeiffer) came to the Riviera. The Fitzgeralds had rented the Villa Paquita at Juan-les-Pins, but it did not suit them, and they turned it over to the Hemingways.
The Fitzgeralds’ closest friends at that time were Gerald and Sara Murphy, wealthy American expatriates who devoted themselves to living well. The Murphys were not frivolous people, for Gerald was seriously interested in painting and literature. His paintings have been recognized as precursors of the Pop-Art school; and the Murphys’ friends included John Dos Passos, Archibald Mac-Leish, and Philip Barry. Fitzgerald had introduced Hemingway to the Murphys in 1925, and Gerald became one of his strongest admirers. The Hemingway-Murphy relationship was close for more than a decade. Late in his life Hemingway became convinced that the Murphys had corrupted him with their praise and had encouraged the dissolution of his marriage with Hadley. In A Move-able Feast he arraigned them as “the rich” who, aided by their “pilot fish” John Dos Passos, had violated his innocence.
When Hemingway arrived at Juan-les-Pins in early June 1926 the Murphys gave a champagne party at the Casino to welcome him. Fitzgerald resented this party and spoiled it with his drunken antics. After Fitzgerald began tossing ashtrays at tables, Murphy left his own party. This summer was supposed to be devoted to hard work and sobriety, but Fitzgerald continued to drink steadily and made no progress with his novel. Zelda Fitzgerald remarked that the novel “goes so slow it ought to be serialized in the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
In A Moveable Feast Hemingway states, “Scott did not see it [The Sun Also Rises] until after the completely rewritten and cut manuscript had been sent to Scribners at the end of April.” This statement is true; but the implication that Hemingway did not avail himself of Fitzgerald’s editorial judgment is misleading. Fitzgerald read a carbon copy in early June while proof was being set in New York. His ten-page critique—which Hemingway preserved—establishes that Hemingway acted on Fitzgerald’s recommendations in galley proof.
Dear Ernest: Nowdays when almost everyone is a genius, at least for awhile, the temptation for the bogus to profit is no greater than the temptation for the good man to relax (in one mysterious way or another)—not realizing the transitory quality of his glory because he forgets that it rests on the frail shoulders of professional enthusiasts. This should frighten all of us into a lust for anything honest that people have to say about our work. I’ve taken what proved to be excellent advice (On The B. + Damned) from Bunny Wilson who never wrote a novel, (on Gatsby —change of many thousand wds) from Max Perkins who never considered writing one, and on T. S. of Paradise from Katherine Tighe (you don’t know her) who had probably never read a novel before.
[This is beginning to sound like my own current work which resolves itself into laborious + sententious preliminaries].
Anyhow I think parts of Sun Also are careless + ineffectual. As I said yestiday (and, as I recollect, in trying to get you to cut the 1st part of 50 Grand) I find in you the same tendency to envelope or (and as it usually turns out) to embalm in mere wordiness an anecdote or joke thats casually appealed to you, that I find in myself in trying to preserve a piece of “fine writing.” Your first chapter contains about 10 such things and it gives a feeling of condescending casuallness.
P. 1. “highly moral story”
“Brett said” (O.Henry stuff)
“much too expensive”
“something or other” (if you don’t want to tell, why waste 3 wds. saying it. See P. 23—“9 or 14” and “or how many years it was since 19XX” when it would take two words to say That’s what youd kid in anyone else as mere “style”—mere horseshit I can’t find this latter but anyhow you’ve not only got to write well yourself but you’ve also got to not-do what anyone can do and I think that there are about 24 sneers, superiorities, and nose-thumbings-at-nothing that mar the whole narrative up to p. 29 where (after a false start on the introduction of Cohn) it really gets going. And to preserve these perverse and willfull non-essentials you’ve done a lot of writing that honestly reminded me of Michael Arlen.
[You know the very fact that people have committed themselves to you will make them watch you like a cat. + if they don’t like it creap away like one]
Pps. 1 + 2. Snobbish (not in itself but because the history of English Aristocrats in the war, set down so verbosely so uncritically, so exteriorly and yet so obviously inspired from within, is shopworn.) You had the same problem that I had with my Rich Boy, previously debauched by Chambers ect. Either bring more thot to it with the realization that that ground has already raised its wheat + weeds or cut it down to seven sentences. It hasn’t even your rythym and the fact that may be “true” is utterly immaterial.
That biography from you, who allways believed in the superiority (the preferability) of the imagined to the seen not to say to the merely recounted.
P.3. “Beautifully engraved shares” (Beautifully engraved 1886 irony) All this is O.K. but so glib when its glib + so profuse.
P.5. Painters are no longer real in prose. They must be minimized. [This is not done by making them schlptors, backhouse wall-experts or miniature painters]
P.8. “highly moral urges” “because I believe its a good story” If this paragraph isn’t maladroit then I’m a rewrite man for Dr. Cadman.
P.9.Somehow its not good. I can’t quite put my hand on it—it has a ring of “This is a true story ect.”
P. 10. “Quarter being a state of mind ect.” This is an all guide books. I havn’t read Basil Swoon’s but I have fifty francs to lose.
[About this time I can hear you say “Jesus this guy thinks I’m lousy, + he can stick it up his ass for all I give a Gd Dm for his ’critisism’.” But remember this is a new departure for you, and that I think your stuff is great. You were the first American I wanted to meet in Europe —and the last. (This latter clause is simply to balance the sentence. It doesn’t seem to make sense tho I have pawed at it for several minutes. Its like the age of the French women.
P. 14. (+ thereabout) as I said yesterday I think this anecdote is flat as hell without naming Ford which would be cheap.
It’s flat because you end with mention of Allister Crowly. If he’s nobody its nothing. If he’s somebody, its cheap. This is a novel. Also I’d cut out mention of H. Stearns earlier.
Why not cut the inessentials in Cohens biography? His first marriage is of no importance. When so many people can write well + the competition is so heavy I can’t imagine how you could have done these first 20 pps. so casually. You can’t play with peoples attention—a good man who has the power of arresting attention at will must be especially careful.
From here Or rather from p. 30 I began to like the novel but Ernest I can’t tell you the sense of disappointment that beginning with its elephantine facetiousness gave me. Please do what you can about it in proof. Its 7500 words—you could reduce it to 5000. And my advice is not to do it by mere pareing but to take out the worst of the scenes.
I’ve decided not to pick at anything else, because I wasn’t at all inspired to pick when reading it. I was much too excited. Besides This is probably a heavy dose. The novel’s damn good. The centrol theme is marred somewhere but hell! unless you’re writing your life history where you have an inevitable pendulum to swing you true (Harding metaphor), who can bring it entirely off? And what critic can trace whether the fault lies in a possible insufficient thinking out, in the biteing off of more than you eventually cared to chew in the impotent theme or in the elusiveness of the lady character herself. My theory always was that she dramatized herself in terms of Arlen’s dramatatization of somebody’s dramatizatatg of Stephen McKenna’s dramatization of Diana Manner’s dramatization of the last girl in Well’s Tono Bungay—who’s original probably liked more things about Beatrix Esmond than about Jane Austin’s Elizibeth (to whom we owe the manners of so many of our wives.)
Appropos of your foreward about the Latin quarter —suppose you had begun your stories with phrases like: “Spain is a peculiar place—ect” or “Michigan is interesting to two classes—the fisherman + the drummer.”
Pps 64 + 65 with a bit of work should tell all that need be known about Brett’s past.
(Small point) “Dysemtry” instead of “killed” is a cliches to avoid a cliche. It stands out. I suppose it can’t be helped. I suppose all the 75,000000 Europeans who died between 1914-1918 will always be among the 10,000,000 who were killed in the war.
God! The bottom of p. 77 Jusque the top p. 78 are wonderful, I go crazy when people aren’t always at their best. This isn’t picked out—I just happened on it.
The heart of my critisim beats somewhere apon p. 87. I think you can’t change it, though. I felt the lack of some crazy torturing tentativeness or security—horror, all at once, that she’d feel—and he’d feel—maybe I’m crazy. He isn’t like an impotent man. He’s like a man in a sort of moral chastity belt.
Oh, well. It’s fine, from Chap V on, anyhow, in spite of that—which fact is merely a proof of its brilliance.
Station Z.W.X. square says good night. Good night all.
In the typescript and galley proof of The Sun Also Rises Chapter I recounts Brett Ashley’s marital history and provides background on her liaison with Mike Campbell. Chapter II describes Jake’s life in Paris, his newspaper job, and his dislike of the Quarter. Robert Cohn’s novel is discussed. Braddocks got Jake to read it so he wouldn’t have to read it himself. Mention of Braddocks (who was Ford Madox Ford) sets up the anecdote about Braddocks cutting Aleister Crowley at the Closerie de Lilas—which was salvaged thirty years later in A Moveable Feast. Jake explains to the reader that it is necessary to include Braddocks because he is Cohn’s friend, and that Cohn is the hero of the novel. Then at the end of galley 3 appear the opening words of the published novel: “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton.”
Hemingway acted on Fitzgerald’s urging to cut the opening expository material, although A Moveable Feast conveys the impression that he regarded Fitzgerald’s editorial advice as worthless. Fitzgerald’s other major criticism (p. 87—the scene in Chapter VII when Brett comes to Jake’s flat) was that Hemingway had not conveyed Jake’s feelings about his impotence adequately, a serious reservation in the case of a character who has lost his penis. The section that Fitzgerald singled out for praise (“God! The bottom of p. 77 Jusque the top of p. 78 are wonderful”) is the scene in Chapter VI where Frances Clyne berates Cohn for discarding her.
It is not strange that Fitzgerald would have written a ten-page memo to a man he was seeing daily. As the preamble shows, he was aware that he was taking a risk in criticizing the novel at all. Hemingway never responded mildly to criticism, and Fitzgerald was obviously concerned about alienating his greatly admired friend. A document was required to prepare for discussion of the novel. There were extended talks, in which Hemingway was persuaded to cut the opening of The Sun Also Rises. On 5 June 1926 Hemingway informed Perkins that Fitzgerald is reading the novel and agrees with Hemingway that the first chapters should be cut. Fitzgerald did not report to Perkins until about 25 June because of a trip to Paris to have Zelda’s appendix removed:
First as to Ernests book. I liked it but with certain qualifications. The fiesta, the fishing trip, the minor characters were fine. The lady I didn’t like, perhaps because I don’t like the original. In the mutilated man I thought Ernest bit off more than can yet be chewn between the covers of a book, then lost his nerve a little and edited the more vitalizing details out. He has since told me that something like this happened. Do ask him for the absolute minimum of nessessary changes, Max— he’s so discouraged about the previous reception of his work by publishers and magazine editors. (Tho he loved your letter) From the latter he has had a lot of words and until Bridges offer for the short story [“Fifty Grand&”] (from which he had even before cut out a thousand words on my recommendation) scarcely a single dollar. From the Torrents I expect you’ll have little response. Do you think the Bookman article did him any good?
Zelda Fitzgerald also read the typescript of The Sun Also Rises and was far less impressed with it than her husband was. Sara May-field, a girlhood friend from Montgomery, visited the Fitzgeralds on the Riviera that summer. When asked what Hemingway’s novel was about, Zelda replied that it was about “Bullfighting, bull-slinging, and bull. . . .” Fitzgerald cut Zelda off, telling her not to talk that way about Hemingway. Miss Mayfield reports in her book about the Fitzgeralds, Exiles from Paradise, that Zelda was disturbed by Hemingway’s influence on Fitzgerald. She blamed Hemingway for encouraging the drinking bouts that interrupted Fitzgerald’s work and was repelled by Hemingway’s “morbid preoccupation with offbeat sex and the sadism and necrophilia that go with it.” Sara Mayfield’s book has an affectionate portrayal of Zelda; nonetheless, it is noteworthy that Zelda Fitzgerald and Hemingway made the same charges against each other’s influence on Fitzgerald’s working habits.
The Fitzgeralds did not join the Hemingways, Pauline Pfeiffer, and the Murphys on their early July trip to the Fiesta of San Fermin at Pamplona. There is no evidence that the Fitzgeralds were invited along; but if they were, Zelda’s appendectomy prevented them from going. Fitzgerald never attended a bullfight with Hemingway. After Pamplona the Hemingways returned to the Riviera for the rest of July and August.
Having succeeded in bringing Hemingway to Scribners, Fitzgerald then planned to have Hemingway represented by his agent, Harold Ober, who was with the Paul Revere Reynolds agency and handled Fitzgerald’s magazine material. Fitzgerald hoped that Ober would be able to sell Hemingway’s stories to the American magazines. Until 1927 all of Hemingway’s short stories were published by little magazines, which made little more than token payments. Short stories provided the basis of Fitzgerald’s income, and he felt that Hemingway should also be receiving good money—as well as American visibility—for his stories. In the summer and fall of 1926 Fitzgerald unsuccessfully attempted to set up a connection between Ober and Hemingway. The reasons why this arrangement fell through are not entirely clear. Part of the problem was that Paul Revere Reynolds, Ober’s partner, apparently tried to represent Hemingway without consulting Ober. It is possible that Hemingway was suspicious about having an agent. He never employed one, except for the sale of movie rights.
In late August or September of 1926, after Hemingway had returned to Paris, Fitzgerald wrote to say that he was hard at work on his novel. This claim would become a refrain over the next years as Fitzgerald attempted to convince Hemingway that he was truly a serious writer—and as Hemingway tried to encourage him to stick with the novel.
Sorry we missed you + Hadley. No news. I’m on the wagon + working like hell. Expect to sail for N.Y December 10th from Genoa on the Conte Biancamo. Will be here till then. Saw Bullfight in Frejus. Bull was euneuch (sp.). House barred + dark. Front door chained. Have made no enemies for a week. Hamilton domestic row ended in riot. Have new war books by Pierrefeu. God is love.
Did you read in the N.Y Herald about— “… Henry Carpenter, banker, and Willie Stevens, halfwit,…”
Fitzgerald’s note was written on the bottom of a letter from Harold Ober reporting his inability to place “Fifty Grand” and asking for other Hemingway stories.
While awaiting publication of The Sun Also Rises Hemingway wrote to Fitzgerald from Paris in September that he and Hadley have separated, admitting that it is his fault. Ernest has cut the first part of the novel to start with Cohn and has done considerable rewriting in proof. He hopes Scott will like it now and thinks he will. Ernest plans to come to Marseilles to see Scott soon. Ernest Walsh—editor of This Quarter—is now attacking Hemingway for selling out to Scribners.
Like many others, Fitzgerald—who was puritanical when sober—felt compelled to emulate Hemingway’s bawdy humor. His September reply to Hemingway’s letter included a scatological parody of the In Our Time vignettes.
We were in a back-house in Juan-les-Pins. Bill had lost controll of his splincter muscles. There were wet Matins in the rack beside the door. There were wet Eclairers de Nice in the rack over his head. When the King of Bulgeria came in Bill was just firing a burst that struck the old limeshit twenty feet down with a splat-tap. All the rest came just like that. The King of Bulgaria began to whirl round and round.
“The great thing in these affairs—” he said.
Soon he was whirling faster and faster. Then he was dead.
At this point in my letter my 30th birthday came and I got tight for a week in the company of such facinating gents as Mr. Theodore Rousseau + other ornaments of what is now a barren shore.
Ernest of little faith I hope the sale of The Killers will teach you to send every story either to Scribners or an agent. Can’t you get “Today is Friday” back? Your letter depressed and rather baffled me. Have you and Hadley permanently busted up, and was the nessessity of that what was on your soul this summer. Don’t answer this unless you feel like it. Anyhow I’m sorry everything’s such a mess and I do want to see you if you come to Marseitte in October.
We saw the Murphys before they left, got stewed with them (at their party)—that is we got stewed—and I believe there was some sort of mawkish reconciliation… Mclieshes too have grown shadowy—he’s so nice but she’s a club woman at heart and made a great lot of trouble in subtle ways this summer. We saw Marice the day she left and the huge Garoupe standing desolate, and her face, and the pathetic bales of chiclets for the Garoupe beach in her bedroom are the strongest impression I have left of a futile and petty summer. It might all have happened at Roslynn Long Island.
Swimmings almost over now. We have our tickets for America Dec. 10th on the Conte Biancamo—we’ll spend the winter in New York. Bishop was here with his unspeakably awful wife. He seems aenemic and washed out, a memory of the past so far as I’m concerned.
Im glad as hell about the story and I hope its the first of many. I feel too much at loose ends to write any more tonight. Remember—if I can give you any financial help let me know.
Always Your Friend
I had a lot more to say but its 3.30 A.M. and Ive been working since 11 this morning and its very hazy. Have you read The Spanish Farm + Sixty four—ninety four by Mottram?
Wonderful war books. Much better than Ford Maddox Ford. In fact the best thing I’ve read this summer. Met your cousin from Princeton!
Late in 1926, when the Fitzgeralds were preparing to leave Juan-les-Pins for America, Hemingway wrote from Paris saying that his trip to Marseilles didn’t work out. Scott is the only man in or out of Europe he wants to see. In this euphoric letter written after publication of The Sun Also Rises on 22 October Ernest claims that in gratitude to Scott he is going to insert a subtitle in the eighth printing of the novel:
THE SUN ALSO RISES (LIKE YOUR COCK IF YOU HAVE ONE)
A Greater Gatsby
(Written with the friendship of F. Scott FitzGerald
(Prophet of THE JAZZ AGE)
Ernest boasts about his decency where money is concerned and admits that he has been sucked in to do good writing by ambition. He is very poor and eating only one meal a day, but has gotten over a suicidal phase in connection with his separation from Hadley. He describes himself as a son-of-a-bitch.
Before leaving the Riviera Fitzgerald sent Hemingway a note offering help.
Villa St. Louis
We leave this house Tuesday for Genoa + New York. I hope everything’s going better for you. If there is anything you need done here or in America—anything about your work, or money, or human help under any head, remember you can always call on
Your Devoted Friend
Fitzgerald followed this note with a letter written aboard the Conte Biancammano but mailed from Washington on 23 December 1926.
Your letter depressed me—illogicly because I knew more or less what was coming. I wish I could have seen you + heard you, if you wished, give some sort of version of what happened to you. Anyhow I’m sorry for you and for Hadley + for Bumby and I hope some way you’ll all be content and things will not seem so hard and bad.
I can’t tell you how much your friendship has meant to me during this year and a half—it is the brightest thing in our trip to Europe for me. I will try to look out for your interests with Scribner in America, but I gather that the need of that is past now and that soon you’ll be financially more than on your feet.
I’m sorry you didn’t come to Marseille. I go back with my novel still unfinished and with less health + not much more money than when I came, but somehow content, for the moment, with motion and New York ahead and Zelda’s entire recovery—and happy about the amount of my book that I’ve already written.
I’m delighted with what press I’ve already seen of The Sun ect. Did not realize you had stolen at all from me but am prepared to believe that its true + shall tell everyone. By the way I liked it in print even better than in manuscript.
1st Printing was probably 5000. 2nd Printing may mean that they’ve sold 4,500 so have ordered up 3000 more. It may mean any sale from 2500 to 5000, tho.
College Humor pays fine. No movie in Sun Also unless book is big success of scandal. That’s just a guess.
We all enjoyed “la vie est beau avec Papa”. We agree with Bumby.
Always Yours Affectionately,
Write me care of Scribners.
Fitzgerald’s letter includes nothing about Hemingway’s forthcoming marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer. It is unlikely that Fitzgerald did not know about Hemingway’s marriage plans, since his involvement with Pauline was hardly a secret by this time. Fitzgerald did not approve of Pauline—a feeling she reciprocated.
The Sun Also Rises had been widely and receptively reviewed. The first printing of 5090 copies sold fast, and it was reprinted in November, December, January 1927, February (twice), March. By November 1929 it was in its tenth printing. Hemingway did not receive any of the royalties because he assigned the novel to Hadley as a divorce settlement—although he subsequently recovered the rights to the novel.
Early in 1927 Fitzgerald was visiting his parents in Washington and trying to heal some sort of grudge Hemingway was nurturing against H. L. Mencken, editor of The American Mercury and the most influential critic of the time.
A line in terrible haste. Lunched with Mencken in Baltimore yesterday. He is just starting reading The Sun ect—has no recollection of having seen Big Two Hearted River + admits confusion about two In Our Times. Got him to say he’d pay you $250. for anything of yours he could use. So there’s another market.
Told him about how you were going to beat him up. He’s a “peach of a fellow” (no irony, just a slip of the pen. He’s thoroughly interested + utterly incapable of malice. Whole thing was simply rather sloppy, as he’s one of the busiest men in America.
The Killers was fine.
Yr. Devoted Friend
The feud simmering between Hemingway and Mencken was one-sided. Mencken had not yet reviewed any of Hemingway’s books, which may have been what was bothering Hemingway. (“How to Waste Material,” Fitzgerald’s essay-review of In Our Time, had been declined by The American Mercury.) However, the Mercury ridiculed the Paris in our time with an unsigned brief notice in August 1925. Since this notice appeared more than a year after the publication of in our time, there is a chance that Fitzgerald may have called the volume to Mencken’s attention as part of his campaign to promote Hemingway’s career. The Mercury comment, which appeared under the heading “Quackery,” read in full:
The sort of brave, bold stuff that all atheistic young newspaper reporters write. Jesus Christ in lower case. A hanging, a carnal love, and two disembowelings. Here it is set forth solemnly on Rives hand-made paper, in an edition of 170 copies, and with the imprimatur of Ezra Pound.
The style is straight Mencken, and Hemingway was almost certainly correct in attributing the sneer to the Baltimore Anti-Christ. By 1927 Mencken had ignored two salvos from Hemingway which were invitations to counterattack. The Torrents of Spring had been satirically dedicated “TO H. L. MENCKEN AND S. STANWOOD MENCKEN IN ADMIRATION.” Since S. Stan-wood Menken (which was the correct spelling) was a reformer who represented some of the things H. L. Mencken ridiculed, coupling their names was intended to be incongruous—not “in admiration.” The Sun Also Rises included a ludicrous reference to Mencken in Bill Gorton’s nonsense humor: “Remember the woods were God’s first temples. Let us kneel and say: ’Don’t eat that, Lady—that’s Mencken.’ “ It is a fair inference that Hemingway—who had not had any contact with Mencken—was using an old ploy of ambitious young writers by attacking a prominent literary figure. If so, it didn’t work because Mencken did not respond.
Fitzgerald wanted these two writers he greatly admired to admire each other, and he particularly wanted Mencken to give favorable notice to Hemingway. Fitzgerald subsequently presented Mencken with an inscribed copy of Men Without Women, Hemingway’s second story collection, when it was published in 1927:
Please read this—at least read The Killers Pursuit Race + Now I lay me
He’s really a great writer, since Anderson’s collapse the best we have I think.
Fitzgerald’s efforts may have prompted Mencken to review Men Without Women in the May 1928 American Mercury. Pairing Hemingway with Thornton Wilder, he commented, “It is technical virtuosity that has won them attention; it is hard work and fundamental thinking that must get them on, if they are to make good their high promise.”
On 31 March 1927 Hemingway wrote from Paris thanking Fitzgerald for his efforts to promote his work and reporting Harold Loeb’s reaction to seeing himself thinly disguised as Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises. After Loeb announced he was going to shoot him, Ernest passed the word that he would be waiting at Lipp’s brasserie on the Boulevard St. Germain for two afternoons; but Loeb did not show up. Harold Loeb has denied that he ever threatened to shoot Hemingway. Ernest ridicules Louis Bromfield’s novels and describes a bad dinner at Bromfield’s home during which he was tempted to piss in the finger bowls. He got Scott’s cable about writing for Vanity Fair, but has decided not to write anything to order because that wastes material. However, Scott has suggested a subject that would not be jacking off to write, and Ernest will try to do something with it. Nothing by Hemingway appeared in Vanity Fair. The letter includes Hemingway’s warm expressions of gratitude to Fitzgerald, calling him his best friend and saying that his feelings about Scott are so strong that he can’t write about them. “You do more and work harder and oh shit I’d get maudlin about how damned swell you are.”
After a wasted Hollywood trip the Fitzgeralds settled at “Ellerslie,” a mansion near Wilmington, Delaware, which they rented from March 1927 to March 1929. Fitzgerald had gone to Hollywood to make fast money by writing an original “flapper” screenplay for Constance Talmadge; but it was rejected and he received only the down-payment. On 18 April 1927 Fitzgerald wrote to Hemingway, who was in Paris awaiting his May marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer:
God! Those terrible Bromfields! I recognized the parsimonious dinner
Your stories were great (in April Scribner). But like me you must beware Conrad rythyms in direct quotation from characters especially if you’re pointing a single phrase + making a man live by it.
“In the fall the war was always there but we did not go to it any more” is one of the most beautiful prose sentences I’ve ever read.
So much has happened to me lately that I despair of ever assimilating it—or for forgetting it which is the same thing.
I hate to think of your being hard up. Please use this if it would help. The Atlantic will pay about $200, I suppose. I’ll get in touch with Perkins about it when he returns from vacation (1 wk.). Won’t they advance you all you need on the bk of stories? Your title [Men Without Women] is fine by the way. What chance of yr. crossing this summer?
After his second marriage Hemingway would not need loans. Pauline Pfeiffer was thirty-one, three years older than he. She was a devout Catholic, and Hemingway became a practicing Catholic at the time of their marriage—claiming that he had been baptized by a priest after his wounding in 1918. The daughter of a wealthy Arkansas landowner, she had been working for the Paris edition of Vogue. Some of her friends thought that Pauline’s real activity in Paris was husband-hunting. In addition to her own financial prospects, she enjoyed the generosity of her rich uncle, Gustavus Adolphus Pfeiffer, who was the controlling stockholder in Richard Hudnut cosmetics. After their marriage Hemingway’s lifestyle expanded considerably. Although his books sold well, his royalties did not support the way the Hemingways lived—their house in Key West, their summers in Wyoming, their trips to Europe.
Fitzgerald’s April letter did not catch up with Hemingway until the summer. In late July or August Hemingway wrote from Spain thanking Scott for the $100 loan, to be repaid after Men Without Women was published in October. As a binder on a contract for ten stories the Hearst magazines sent Ernest a check for $1000, which he returned. Ernest reports with annoyance that Fanny Butcher of the Chicago Tribune has called Louis Bromfield the American Fielding. The latest news about the originals for the Sun Also Rises characters is that Duff Twysden got her divorce, but Pat Guthrie won’t marry her because she has lost her looks. Duff kidnapped her son from England and is keeping him in the south of France. She is not angry about Sun, but says she never slept with the bullfighter.
Through the fall of 1927 Maxwell Perkins sent Hemingway concerned letters about Fitzgerald’s nervous state and his inability to get on with his novel. He visited “Ellerslie” and is worried that Scott may have a breakdown. Perkins has persuaded Scott to switch to Sano cigarettes—making the colossal mis-diagnosis that “tobacco was hurting him more than drink.” Hemingway responded expressing concern, saying that he wished he could come over and put Scott back in shape.
In October 1927 Scott wrote from “Ellerslie” to Ernest in Paris congratulating him on Men Without Women:
Thousands will send you this clipping. I should think it would make you quite conscious of your public existence. Its well meant—he praised your book a few days before.
The book is fine. I like it quite as well as The Sun, which doesn’t begin to express my entheusiasm. In spite of all its geographical + emotional rambling, its a unit, as much as Conrad’s books of Contes were. Zelda read it with facination, liking it better than anything you’ve written. Her favorite was Hills like White Elephants, mine, barring The Killers was Now I Lay Me. The one about the Indians [“Ten Indians”] was the only one that left me cold and I’m glad you left out Up in Michigan. [On 10 May, Perkins had asked Fitzgerald’s advice about publishing “Up in Michigan,” the story that Liveright had earlier declined to publish in In Our Time. Fitzgerald replied on the 12th: “One line at least is pornographic, though please don’t bring my name into the discussion. The thing is—what is a seduction story with the seduction left out. Yet if that is softened it is quite printable.”——Bruccoli] They probably belong to an earlier + almost exhaused vein.
“In the fall the war was always there but we did not go to it anymore.” God, what a beautiful line. And the waking dreams in Now I Lay me and the whole mood of Hills Like.”
Did you see the pre-review by that cocksucker Rascoe who obviously had read only three stories but wanted to be up to the minute?
Max says its almost exhausted 7500—however that was five days ago. I like your title—All the Sad Young Men Without Women—and I feel my influence is beginning to tell. Manuel Garcia is obviously Gatsby. What you havn’t learned from me you’ll get from Good Woman Bromfield and soon you’ll be Marching in the Van of the Younger Generation.
No work this summer but lots this fall. Hope to finish the novel by 1st December. Have got nervous as hell lately—purely physical but scared me somewhat—to the point of putting me on the wagon and smoking denicotinized cigarettes. Zelda is ballet dancing three times a week with the Phila symphony—painting also. I think you were wise not jumping at Hearsts offer. I had a contract with them that, as it turned out, did me unspeakable damage in one way or another. Long is a sentimental scavenger with no ghost of taste or individuality, not nearly so much as Lorimer for example. However, why not send your stories to Paul Reynolds? He’ll be glad to handle them + will get you good prices. The Post now pays me $3500.—this detail so you’ll be sure who’s writing this letter.
I can’t tell you how I miss you. May cross for 6 wks in March or April. The Grandmothers was respectable but undistinguished, and are you coming home. Best to Pauline. With good wishes + Affection
Hemingway was skiing at Gstaad—a considerable cut above Schruns socially—in December 1927 / January 1928 and sent Fitzgerald a torn letter that was too dull to mail, but which he doesn’t have the energy to rewrite. He reports that he wrote twenty chapters (60,000 words) of his next novel before breaking off because of physical problems. (Hemingway’s 60,000 words were for a “modern Tom Jones,” which he abandoned to start A Farewell to Arms in March 1928.) Bumby poked him in the eye, temporarily blinding him; his other ailments include grippe, piles, and a toothache. Although Fitzgerald was pleased by Hemingway’s success, the news that Ernest was working so prolifically must have caused a painful assessment of his failure to complete his own novel.
Hemingway’s letter may have crossed Fitzgerald’s December 1927 sanguine prediction about his novel:
Perkins send me the check for 800 bits (as we westerners say), indicating I hope, that you are now comfortably off in your own ascetic way. I am almost through my novel, got short and had to do three Post stories but as I am now their pet exhibit and go down on them to the tune of 32,000 bits per felony it didn’t take long to come to the surface.
(This tough talk is not really characteristic of me— its the influence of All the Sad Young Men Without Women in Love.) Louis Golding stepped off the boat + said you and I were the hope of American Letters (if you can find them) but aside from that things look black, “old pard”—Brommy [Bromfield] is sweeping the west, Edna Ferber is sweeping the east and Paul Rosenfeld is sweeping what’s left into a large ornate wastebasket, a gift which any Real Man would like, to be published in November under the title: The Real Liesure Class, containing the work of one-story Balzacs and poets so thin-skinned as to be moved by everything to exactly the same degree of mild remarking.
Lately I’ve enjoyed Some People, Bismark (Ludwig’s), Him (in parts) and the Memoirs of Ludendorff. I have a new German war book, Die Krieg against Krieg, which shows men who mislaid their faces in Picardy and the Caucasus—you can imagine how I thumb it over, my mouth fairly slithering with facination.
If you write anything in the line of an “athletic” story please try the Post or let me try them for you, or Reynolds. You were wise not to tie up with Hearst’s. They are absolute bitches who feed on contracts like vultures, if I may coin a neat simile.
I’ve tasted no alcohol for a month but Xmas is coming.
Please write me at length about your adventures— I hear you were seen running through Portugal in used B.V.D.s, chewing ground glass and collecting material for a story about Boule players; that you were publicity man for Lindberg; that you have finished a novel a hundred thousand words long consisting entirely of the word “balls” used in new groupings; that you have been naturalized a Spaniard, dress always in a wine-skin with “zipper” vent and are engaged in bootlegging Spanish Fly between St. Sebastian and Biaritz where your agents sprinkle it on the floor of the Casino. I hope I have been misformed but, alas!, it all has too true a ring. For your own good I should be back there, with both of us trying to be good fellows at a terrible rate. Just before you pass out next time think of me.
This is a wowsy country but France is swehw and I hope to spend March and April, or April and May, there and elsewhere on the continent.
How are you, physically and mentally? Do you sleep? Now I Lay Me was a fine story—you ought to write a companion piece, Now I Lay Her. Excuse my bawdiness but I’m oversexed and am having saltpetre put in my Pate de Foie Gras au Truffles Provencal.
Please write news. My best to Pauline—Zelda’s also to you both. God will forgive everybody—even Robert McAlmon and Burton Rascoe.
In an undated 1927 letter Hemingway wrote to Fitzgerald that Bromfield has met his mother on a lecture tour, so that now Mrs. Hemingway is no doubt regretting the fact that her son doesn’t write like Bromfield. Ernest claims that Bumby—who was four— has received an offer from Hearst to write a novel about Lesbians who were wounded in the war. While Hemingway was beginning A Farewell to Arms, Fitzgerald was still stuck on his novel, which he interrupted to write short stories. In 1927-28 he published twelve stories, ten of which were in The Saturday Evening Post. His earnings in 1927 were $29,000 and in 1928 $25,000—including more than $7,000 in advances for the novel. Fitzgerald’s drinking behavior became increasingly erratic, and his domestic situation became increasingly strained. Zelda Fitzgerald’s ambition for her own career prompted her to begin intense ballet training at the advanced age of twenty-seven; and her absorption in her lessons caused an estrangement between the Fitzgeralds. Now it was Scott who wanted to party when Zelda wanted to work.
In March 1928 Hemingway was hit in the head by a falling skylight in the toilet of his Paris apartment. Nine stitches were required, leaving a permanent scar on his forehead. Fitzgerald was in America when the accident occurred and was not involved in any way. Nonetheless, the extent of the legendizing activity that has been generated around these figures is revealed by a false report of the accident in which Fitzgerald is the villain. In 1956-57 Jed Kiley, a former editor of the Paris Boulevardier, wrote a series of reminiscences about Hemingway for Playboy, which became a book entitled Hemingway: An Old Friend Remembers (1965). Kiley attributed to Fitzgerald the claim that he had deliberately pulled down the skylight in an attempt to kill Hemingway. Apart from the circumstance that such an action was extremely unlikely for Fitzgerald to commit against a friend he virtually worshipped, geography made it impossible. It is, however, remotely possible that Fitzgerald may have made this claim to Kiley, for he made wild statements when he was drunk. Kiley’s unverified account gained considerable currency before it was rebutted by Archibald MacLeish’s letter to the London Times Literary Supplement. MacLeish, who took Hemingway to the hospital after the accident, stated that Fitzgerald was in no way involved. Hemingway’s own report to Perkins of 17 March 1928 makes it clear that he was alone in the toilet when he tried to hook up a cord that a guest had pulled by mistake, bringing the skylight down on his head.
During 1928 Hemingway and Perkins exchanged concerned letters about Fitzgerald, with speculations about his progress on the novel. On 21 April Hemingway wrote Perkins from Key West developing his theory that Scott had been blocked by the reviews of The Great Gatsby—especially by Gilbert Seldes’ review—which made him afraid not to write a great novel. The thing for Scott to do is write; he could have finished three novels in the time since Gatsby. Perkins replied that he doesn’t think Fitzgerald is attempting the impossible with his novel. The problem is Zelda’s extravagance. They ought to get a housekeeper to manage them.
The Fitzgeralds spent the spring and summer of 1928 in Paris, a wasted time of drinking for Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald wrote Hemingway, probably in July, joking about Hemingway’s conversion to Catholicism. Fitzgerald was a lapsed Catholic and never showed any concern about it.
Precious Papa, Bull-fighter, Gourmand ect. It has come to my ears
(a) That you have been seen bycycling through Kansas, chewing + spitting a mixture of goat’s meat + chicory which the natives collect + sell for artery-softener and market-glut
(b) That Bumby has won the Benjamin Altman scholarship at Cundle School + taken first prizes in Comparitive Epistemology, Diseases of Cormorants + Small Vultures, Amateur Gyncology + Intestinal Hysterics
(c) That you are going to fight Jim Tully in Wash-dog Wisconsin on Decoration Day in a chastity belt with your hair cut a la garconne.
Is it all true?
We are friends with the Murphys again. Talked about you a great deal + while we tried to say only kind things we managed to get in a few good cracks that would amuse you—about anybody else—which is what you get for being so far away. Incidently called twice on Hadley— she was both times out but saw Bumby once + think he’s the best kid I ever saw by 1000 miles.
Well, old Mackerel Snatcher, wolf a Wafer + + a Beaker of blood for me,—and when you come Shadow-boxing into my life again with your new similes for “swewa” and “wousy” (which, as you doubtless notice, you’ve given to the world) no one will be glader than your
While in America don’t cast any doubt on my statement that you held a bridgehead (or was it a hophead) at Caporetto for three days + utterly baffled the 2nd Austrian Army Corps. In 50 yrs all the people that could have denied it will be dead or busy holding their own bridgeheads—like Lawrence Stallings, who is slowly taking to himself the communal exploits of the 5th + 6th Marines. “Hebuterne—of course I know it—I took that village.”
Do send Lorimer a story. I Read Mencken’s public apology. Not bad for an old man who has had his troubles. God help us all! Have seen a good deal of Joyce. Please come back—will be here till Aug 20th 58 Rue de Vaugirard. Then back to America for a few months.
Best to Pauline!
In the fall of 1928 Hemingway wrote Fitzgerald from Piggott, Arkansas, saying that he finished A Farewell to Arms a month ago and expressing incredulity about Perkins’ report that Scott is writing eight hours a day. Ernest writes only two hours a day. As a result of the birth of Patrick—the first of his two sons by Pauline— Ernest plans to offer counseling on how to produce perfect babies. On the 11th of October Hemingway wrote Perkins an angry letter about Zelda’s influence on Scott. He often thinks Scott might have been the greatest of American writers if he had not married her. No writer has ever had more talent—or squandered his talent more.
In November 1928 Fitzgerald and Hemingway had their first reunion since the summer of 1926. The Hemingways and artist Mike Strater met the Fitzgeralds at Princeton on the 19th for the Yale-Princeton game. Ernest’s account of this meeting is preserved in a four-page unfinished chapter for A Moveable Feast. Fitzgerald had remained sober at the game. After the game they all took the train to Philadelphia, where they were met by the Fitzgeralds’ chauffeur with their Buick and driven to “Ellerslie,” outside of Wilmington. On the train Fitzgerald gets drunk and annoys people, particularly a medical student he insists is a clap doctor. During the drive to “Ellerslie” the chauffeur—a former Paris taxi driver Fitzgerald had brought to America—complains to Ernest that Fitzgerald won’t let him put any oil in the car. Fitzgerald overhears the chauffeur and insists that American cars do not require additional oil—unlike the Renault that he and Hemingway had driven from Lyons to Paris in 1925. The chapter breaks off with the Fitzgeralds’ arguing about the turn-off to their house. The Hemingways spent the night at “Ellerslie” and left for Chicago on “The Spirit of St. Louis” the next day.
There is another account of this reunion in A. E. Hotchner’s Papa Hemingway (1966), which Hotchner presents as told to him by Hemingway. In this version Hemingway went alone to dine with the Fitzgeralds in their mansion outside Baltimore. He was met at the station by the chauffeur, Pierre (his name was Philippe), with “a custom-built Hotchkiss” which Fitzgerald would not lubricate. At dinner Fitzgerald was drunk and unpleasant before passing out. There was no one to drive Hemingway to the station, so he had to spend the night instead of returning to New York to work on proofs with Perkins. The next day Fitzgerald tried to prevent Hemingway from catching the “one train a day” from Baltimore to New York. In the car on the way to the station Fitzgerald—petulant because Hemingway was leaving—kicked out the windshield and cut his foot. “Scott turned savagely abusive and hysterical and I had to slap his face hard to quiet him down.” The checkable details in Hotchner’s account do not check out. In 1928 the Fitzgeralds were living at “Ellerslie,” near Wilmington; Hemingway never visited them at “La Paix” near Baltimore, where they lived in 1932-33. Fitzgerald never owned a Hotchkiss—custom-built or otherwise—which was a very expensive French car; at “Ellerslie” they had a Buick, as Hemingway correctly notes in his own account.
After the “Ellerslie” visit, Hemingway wrote a bread-and-butter letter on the train thanking Fitzgerald for a good time and apologizing for having been a nuisance about getting to the train on time. There was some unexplained trouble with a policeman at the station. While Scott was in the hands of the law, Ernest called from the platform phone and explained to the cop that Scott is a great writer, and the cop replied that Scott says the same thing about Ernest. A third report of the Hemingways’ visit to “Ellerslie” is in Sara Mayfield’s Exiles from Paradise. She reports that Zelda Fitzgerald was disturbed by Hemingway’s “jokes with Scott about pederasty, anal eroticism, and other forms of perversion”; and that Fitzgerald and Hemingway got drunk and were jailed after a brawl. Miss Mayfield was not present, and there is no supporting evidence for her account.
On 6 December 1928 Hemingway was southbound from New York to Key West with Bumby on the “Havana Special.” At Trenton, New Jersey, he received a wire informing him that his father had died in Oak Park. Hemingway wired Perkins to send $100 to the North Philadelphia station; but there was no reply, so he wired both Fitzgerald and Strater. Fitzgerald delivered the money to North Philadelphia. Suffering from diabetes and angina and under financial pressure because of bad investments in Florida real estate, Dr. Hemingway had shot himself. Hemingway blamed his mother, feeling her domination had unmanned his father.
Hemingway wrote to Fitzgerald from the train on the way back to Key West after the funeral saying that he is too sick about his father’s suicide to write a proper letter but wants to thank him for his help. Fitzgerald replied on the 28th of December:
I’m terribly sorry about your trouble. I guess losing parents is just one of the things that happens to one in the thirties—every time I see my father now I think its the last time.
Thank Pauline for the really beautiful Xmas card. It was great to have you both here, even when I was intermittently unconscious.
I send you what may be news, and what a nice precedent for beating up Mencken. Saw the Murphys for an hour in New York. We’re sailing March 1st + I hope to have the novel here. (Confidential about sailing though until I’m sure—won’t go unless novel’s finished.) Ring [Lardner] thought you were fine—he was uncharacteristicly entheusiastic.
I’m bored + somewhat depressed tonight so I won’t continue. Oh, yes—I met old H. Stearns just before leaving Paris and feeling drunk and Christ-like suggested a title to him: “Why I go on being poor in Paris”, told him to write it as an informal letter to me and I’d sell it. In a burst of energy he did + I sent it to Max who wrote a check for $100.00 for it. Now Harold writes me that $100 isn’t very much (as a matter of fact, it isn’t much of a letter either) and exhibits such general dissatisfaction that I think he thinks I held out on him. You’ve got to be careful who you do favors for—within a year you’ll probably hear a story that what started him on his downward path was my conscienceless theft of his royaties.
Spengler’s second volume is marvellous. Nothing else is any good—when will you save me from the risk of memorizing your works from over-reading them by finishing another? Remember, Proust is dead—to the great envy of
Your Crony and Gossip