In April 1930 Zelda Fitzgerald suffered a mental breakdown in Paris and was hospitalized in Switzerland until the fall of 1931, when the Fitzgeralds permanently returned to America. There is no surviving letter from Hemingway to Fitzgerald about Zelda’s collapse. During his wife’s hospitalization Fitzgerald’s novel was again interrupted as he wrote short stories for ready money to pay medical bills. Hemingway divided his time between Key West and Wyoming in the hot months, with trips to Spain to gather material for Death in the Afternoon. The only located letter from this period is Hemingway’s 12 April 1931 letter of condolence on the death of Fitzgerald’s father, urging him to save his feelings about his father for a novel—and not to poop them away in The Saturday Evening Post.
Jay Allen, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, met Hemingway in Madrid during the summer of 1931. After assuring Allen that he had graduated from Princeton, Hemingway sent a note by messenger explaining that he had lied because of his envy of Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton education.
Fitzgerald and Hemingway met in October of 1931, but the circumstances of the meeting are not known. Although he did not note it in his Ledger, the meeting is stipulated on the chart of their meetings that Fitzgerald later prepared At this meeting Hemingway probably gave Fitzgerald his passport photo inscribed: “To Scott from his old bedfellow Richard Halliburton Princeton 1931.” Halliburton was a Princetonian whose travel-adventure books were very popular. He was also an alleged homosexual. The photo shows a well-dressed Hemingway in a double-breasted suit, white shirt, and striped tie—but not a Guards tie. (Fitzgerald and Hemingway were both willing camera subjects, but no photo of them together is known.)
Around this time Fitzgerald and Hemingway began relying on Perkins as a courier, relaying messages through him. Perkins tried to maintain the pretense that his two authors were still close friends, and his letters to each of them frequently included news about the other. The Fitzgeralds settled in Montgomery, Alabama, in the fall of 1931. In November-December Fitzgerald went alone to Hollywood to work on the screenplay for Red-Headed Woman at MGM. His screenplay was rejected; but he was paid $6,000, which he hoped would see him through his novel. On 9 December Hemingway wrote Perkins that he had not heard from Scott, except for a telegram from Hollywood recommending an agent to handle his movie rights. Beginning in 1932, Fitzgerald’s comments about Hemingway to Perkins manifested increasing guilt about his own stalled career. In January 1932 he sent Perkins an optimistic progress report on his novel, adding: “Don’t tell Ernest or anyone— let them think what they want—you’re the only one whose ever consistently felt faith in me anyhow.” Fitzgerald’s work plans were again changed when Zelda suffered a relapse in February 1932. She was placed at the Phipps Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and in May Fitzgerald rented “La Paix” outside Baltimore to be near her. At Phipps, Zelda Fitzgerald wrote her novel, Save Me the Waltz, which Perkins accepted for publication. In May Fitzgerald warned Perkins about Hemingway’s possible resentment of Zelda’s novel:
Now a second thing, more important than you think. You havn’t been in the publishing business over twenty years without noticing the streaks of smallness in very large personalities. Ernest told me once he would “never publish a book in the same season with me”, meaning it would lead to ill-feeling. I advise you, if he is in New York, (and always granting you like Zelda’s book) do not praise it, or even talk about it to him! The finer the thing he has written [Death in the Afternoon], the more he’ll expect your entire allegiance to it as this is one of the few pleasures, rich + full + new, he’ll get out of it. I know this, + I think you do too. + probably there’s no use warning you. There is no possible conflict between the books but there has always been a subtle struggle between Ernest + Zelda, + any apposition might have cureously grave consequences—curious, that is, to un-jealous men like you and me.
In the summer of 1932 Perkins expressed to Hemingway the wild hope that Zelda could turn into a popular writer and take the financial pressure off Scott. Perkins and Fitzgerald have planned a tour of the Virginia Civil War battlefields and want Ernest to come along. Scott would like to join Perkins’ next Key West fishing trip. Hemingway did not come to Virginia, and Fitzgerald never got to Key West. On the 27th of July Hemingway wrote Perkins that Scott should have traded Zelda in five or six years ago before she was certifiably crazy. “He is the great tragedy of talent in our bloody generation.” Later the same day Hemingway sent Perkins a note apologizing for his brutality about “poor Scott,” explaining that the Fitzgerald marriage always makes him bitter.
Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway’s anatomy of tauromachy, was published on 23 September 1932. Hemingway sent Fitzgerald a copy, inscribed: “To Scott with much affection Ernest.” The 10,300-copy first printing sold slowly. The Depression was blamed for the disappointing reception of this $3.50 volume, but it was not a book with much popular appeal at the time. Bullfighting did not yet have a large American following—although Hemingway would be largely responsible for later American interest in the spectacle. Zelda Fitzgerald’s novel Save Me the Waltz, appeared on 7 October and fared less well. The 3000-copy first printing did not sell out. Reviewers and readers were put off by Zelda’s extravagant style; and the Fitzgeralds were no longer newsworthy enough to generate interest in a roman a clef about their marriage. Perkins sent Hemingway a copy of Save Me the Waltz, which he acknowledged on 15 November, saying it is unreadable. He offers to give it to anyone Perkins thinks could read it.
Fitzgerald worked effectively on his novel at “La Paix” in 1932 and 1933. After replacing the matricide plot with the story of Dick Diver, he had material that was close to him and made steady progress. The deterioration of the brilliant psychiatrist drew heavily upon Fitzgerald’s guilt about his own failure to fulfill his promise, his betrayal of his talent. While he was writing Tender Is the Night Fitzgerald was keenly aware of Hemingway’s achievement and found it necessary to make warning notes to himself: “Beware Ernest in this scene” and “Now a cheerful scene but remember to avoid Hemmingway”—referring to scenes that could have been handled in the clipped Hemingway dialogue.
The next meeting between Fitzgerald and Hemingway in January 1933 was spoiled because Fitzgerald was on a bender in New York. The occasion was a lunch with Edmund Wilson, at which Fitzgerald quarreled with both of them. Fitzgerald’s Notebook includes his analysis of this reunion: “Very strong personalities must confine themselves in mutual conversation to very gentle subjects. Everything eventually transpires—but if they start at a very high pitch as at the last meeting of Ernest, Bunny and me, their meeting is spoiled. It does not matter who sets the theme or what it is.” Fitzgerald dutifully reported to Perkins on 19 January:
I was in New York for three days last week on a terrible bat. I was about to call you up when I completely collapsed and laid in bed for twenty-four hours groaning. [Fitzgerald had called Perkins.] Without a doubt the boy is getting too old for such tricks. Ernest told me he concealed from you the fact that I was in such rotten shape… Am going on the water-wagon from the first of February to the first of April but don’t tell Ernest because he has long convinced himself that I am an incurable alcoholic, due to the fact that we almost always meet on parties. I am his alcoholic just like Ring is mine and do not want to disillusion him, tho even Post stories must be done in a state of sobriety.”
This 1933 meeting may have prompted Fitzgerald’s Notebook entry: “I talk with the authority of failure—Ernest with the authority of success. We could never sit across the table again.” Hemingway’s reaction, expressed in January and February letters to Perkins, was that Scott could only be saved by two things: Zelda’s death or a stomach ailment that would make it impossible for him to drink. Hemingway blamed Scott’s “damned, bloody romanticism” and “cheap irish love of defeat.” He’d like to see Scott sober. Fitzgerald remained more than loyal to Hemingway: he was protective. When Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas appeared in 1933 with its belittling remarks about Hemingway, Fitzgerald was angry and phoned Perkins to find out if Ernest was upset.
From December 1933 to February 1934 Hemingway was on safari in Africa. Tender Is the Night was completed in the late fall of 1933, and it began appearing serially in Scribner’s Magazine with the January 1934 issue. Perkins predicted to Hemingway on 7 February that Fitzgerald would be “completely reinstated” by Tender Is the Night; after revision it will be “a masterpiece of its kind.” Writing to Perkins about the novel, Fitzgerald observed in March:
One time I had a talk with Ernest Hemingway, and I told him, against all the logic that was then current, that I was the tortoise and he was the hare, and that’s the truth of the matter, that everything that I have ever attained has been through long and persistent struggle while it is Ernest who has a touch of genius which enables him to bring off extraordinary things with facility.
Tender Is the Night was published on 12 April 1934 in a first printing of 7600 copies; it required two more small printings and was dead after 15,000 copies. The novel did not recover the money Fitzgerald had borrowed from Scribners against it. The critical reception was disappointing, and it has become a cliche that the socially conscious critics of the thirties dismissed the novel because it dealt with wealthy American expatriates in the twenties. Study of the reviews does not support this interpretation. The reviewers were far more disturbed by the structure of the novel than by the material, finding the flashback plan confusing.
Although their friendship had cooled, Fitzgerald would come up fighting for Hemingway. One night in April 1934 James Thurber was with Fitzgerald in Tony’s saloon on 52nd Street in New York when Fitzgerald overheard two men “not unlike the Killers in Hemingway’s story” disparaging Hemingway. He stood up and said to them, “I am Scott Fitzgerald.” Before he could demand an apology, the men walked away. Fitzgerald was reputedly sober at the time. In his account of that long drinking night, Thurber is alone in claiming that Fitzgerald held his liquor well.
Hemingway wrote to Perkins on 30 April complaining that Tender Is the Night was emotionally unsound. By using Gerald and Sara Murphy (to whom the novel was dedicated) as the models for Dick and Nicole Diver, Scott created unconvincing characters who behave in ways that the Murphys would never act. Scott has so “lousy much talent” that he almost brought it off; but he can’t think straight. Scott never learned his trade, and he doesn’t know anything. He hasn’t truly imagined his characters because he doesn’t know what people are like to begin with. The novel is false. Perkins replied on 3 May admitting that much of what Hemingway said about Tender is true, but noting that “a great deal of good writing has come from a sort of adolescent romanticism.” All of Scott’s troubles are based on his inner confusion and unreal ideas about fundamentals. Perkins doesn’t think Scott’s hopelessness is justified, but it is useless to try to talk to him about it. In an undated letter Hemingway admitted to Perkins that Tender is much better than he had said in his letter; he was only analyzing the weakness of the novel and had not given credit to its merits. Perkins replied on 23 May that Tender has too much extraneous material Scott couldn’t bear to cut. The basic illusion and conflict in Scott are responsible for the defects of Tender, although Gatsby was “fitted to the illusion and conflict.”
While Hemingway and Perkins were corresponding about Tender, Fitzgerald was anxiously awaiting Hemingway’s reaction. A month after publication Fitzgerald wrote from the apartment he had moved to from “La Paix.” This is the first surviving letter between them since 1929.
1307 Park Avenue,
May 10, 1934.
Did you like the book? For God’s sake drop me a line and tell me one way or another. You can’t hurt my feelings. I just want to get a few intelligent slants at it to get some of the reviewers jargon out of my head.
Ever Your Friend
All I meant about the editing [of Winner Take Nothing] was that if I’d been in Max’s place I’d have urged you to hold the book for more material. It had neither the surprise of I.O.T (nessessessarily) nor its unity. And it did not have as large a proportion of 1st flight stories as M.W.W. I think in a “general presentation” way this could have been attoned for by sheer bulk. Take that opinion for what it’s worth.
On the other hand: you can thank God you missed this publishing season! I am 5th best seller in the country + havn’t broken 12,000.
Winner Take Nothing, Hemingway’s third short-story collection, had been published in October 1933. Fitzgerald’s previous comment on it has not been found. Winner was the least impressive of Hemingway’s three story volumes, with only two major stories—“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” and “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio.” It included weak stories like “The Mother of a Queen,” “One Reader Writes,” “Homage to Switzerland,” and “A Day’s Wait.” Even so, it had a first printing of 20,300 copies and outsold Tender Is the Night.
Hemingway sent Fitzgerald a harsh assessment of Tender Is the Night from Key West on 28 May 1934. Most of this three-page typed letter develops the criticism already made to Perkins that Scott distorted the Murphys into the Divers by combining them with the Fitzgeralds. Writers are supposed to invent truly. Although there are wonderful things in the novel, and although Scott can write better than anyone else, Tender is faked. Hemingway says that Scott could never think, but now he has stopped listening and has dried up as a writer. “We are like lousy damned acrobats but we make some might fine jumps, bo, and they have all these other acrobats that won’t jump.” He urges Scott to keep writing and stop thinking about masterpieces—again repeating the charge that Gilbert Seldes’ review of Gatsby had blocked him. “Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start… But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it… About this time I wouldn’t blame you if you gave me a burst. Jesus, it’s marvellous to tell other pepole how to write, live, die etc… You see, Bo, you’re not a tragic character. Neither am I. All we are is writers and what we should do is write. Of all people on earth you needed discipline in your work and instead you marry someone who is jealous of your work, wants to compete with you and ruins you. It’s not as simple as that and I thought Zelda was crazy the first time I met her and you complicated it even more by being in love with her and, of course you’re a rummy. But you’re no more of a rummy than Joyce is and most good writers are… You are twice as good now as you were at the time you think you were so marvellous… All you need to do is write truly and not care about what the fate of it is.” On the envelope Hemingway added that he had not mentioned the parts of the novel he liked, but Scott knows which parts are good. He also acknowledges that Scott is right about Winner Take Nothing.
Though clearly hurt, Fitzgerald sent a calm six-page typed reply.
1307 Park Avenue,
June 1, 1934.
Your letter crossed, or almost crossed, one of mine which I am glad now I didn’t send, because the old charming frankness of your letter cleared up the foggy atmosphere through which I felt it was difficult for us to talk any more.
Because I’m going egoist on you in a moment, I want to say that just exactly what you suggested, that the edition of that Chinamen-running story in the Cosmopolitan would have given Winner Take Nothing the weight that it needed was in my head too. Allow me one more criticism, that while I admire your use of purely abstract titles I do not think that one was a particularly fortunate choice.
Next to go to the mat with you on a couple of technical points. The reason I had written you a letter was that Dos dropped in in passing through and said you had brought up about my book what we talked about once in a cafe on the Avenue de Neuilly about composite characters. Now, I don’t entirely dissent from the theory but I don’t believe you can try to prove your point on such a case as Bunny using his own father as the sire of John Dos Passos, or in the case of this book that covers ground that you personally paced off about the same time I was doing it. In either of those cases how could you trust your own detachment? If you had never met any of the originals then your opinion would be more convincing.
Following this out a little farther, when does the proper and logical combination of events, cause and effect, etc. end and the field of imagination begin? Again you may be entirely right because I suppose you were applying the idea particularly to the handling of the creative faculty in one’s mind rather than to the effect upon the stranger reading it. Nevertheless, I am not sold on the subject, and especially to account for the big flaws of Tender on that ground doesn’t convince me. Think of the case of the Renaissance artists, and of the Elizabethan dramatists, the first having to superimpose a medieval conception of science and archeology, etc. upon the bible story; and in the second, of Shakespeare’s trying to interpret the results of his own observation of the life around him on the basis of Plutarch’s Lives and Hollinshed’s Chronicles. There you must admit that the feat of building a monument out of three kinds of marble was brought off. You can accuse me justly of not having the power to bring it off, but a theory that it can’t be done is highly questionable. I make this point with such persistence because such a conception, if you stick to it, might limit your own choice of materials. The idea can be reduced simply to: you can’t say accurately that composite characterization hurt my book, but that it only hurt it for you.
To take a case specifically, that of Gerald and Sara. I don’t know how much you think you know about my relations with them over a long time, but from certain remarks that you let drop, such as one “Gerald threw you over,” I guess that you didn’t even know the beginning of our relations. In that case you hit on the exact opposite of the truth.
I think it is obvious that my respect for your artistic life is absolutely unqualified, that save for a few of the dead or dying old men you are the only man writing fiction in America that I look up to very much. There are pieces and paragraphs of your work that I read over and over—in fact, I stopped myself doing it for a year and a half because I was afraid that your particular rhythms were going to creep in on mine by process of infiltration. Perhaps you will recognize some of your remarks in Tender, but I did every damn thing I could to avoid that. (By the way, I didn’t read the Wescott story of Villefranche sailors till I’d done my own version. Think that was the wisest course, for me anyhow, and got a pleasant letter from him in regard to the matter.)
To go back to my theme song, the second technical point that might be of interest to you concerns direct steals from an idea of yours, an idea of Conrad’s and a few lines out of David-into-Fox-Garnett. The theory back of it I got from Conrad’s preface to The Nigger, that the purpose of a work of fiction is to appeal to the lingering after-effects in the reader’s mind as differing from, say, the purpose of oratory or philosophy which leave respectively leave people in a fighting or thoughtful mood. The second contribution to the burglary was your trying to work out some such theory in your troubles with the very end of A Farewell to Arms. I remember that your first draft—or at least the first one I saw—gave a sort of old-fashioned Alger book summary of the future lives of the characters: “The priest became a priest under Fascism,” etc., and you may remember my suggestion to take a burst of eloquence from anywhere in the book that you could find it and tag off with that; you were against this idea because you felt that the true line of a work of fiction was to take a reader up to a high emotional pitch but then let him down or ease him off. You gave no aesthetic reason for this—nevertheless, you convinced me. The third piece of burglary contributing to this symposing was my admiration of the dying fall in the aforesaid Garnett’s book and I imitated it as accurately as it is humanly decent in my own ending of Tender, telling the reader in the last pages that, after all, this is just a casual event, and trying to let him come to bat for me rather than going out to shake his nerves, whoop him up, then leaving him rather in a condition of a frustrated woman in bed. (Did that ever happen to you in your days with MacCallagan or McKisco, Sweetie?)
Thanks again for your letter which was damned nice, and my absolute best wishes to all of you (by the way, where did you ever get the idea that I didn’t like Pauline, or that I didn’t like her as much as I should? Of all that time of life the only temperamental coolness that I ever felt toward any of the people we ran around with was toward Ada MacLeish, and even in that case it was never any more than that. I have honestly never gone in for hating. My temporary bitternesses toward people have all been ended by what Freud called an inferiority complex and Christ called “Let him without sin—” I remember the day he said it. We were justlikethat then; we tossed up for who was going to go through with it—and he lost.
I am now asking only $5,000 for letters. Make out the check to Malcolm Republic, c/o The New Cowlick.
Ever your friend,
P.S. Did you ever see my piece about Ring in the New Cowlick—I think you’d have liked it.
P.S.S. This letter and questions require no answers. You are “write” that I no longer listen, but my case histories seem to go in largely for the same magazines, and with simple people I get polite. But I listen to you and would like damn well to hear your voice again.
This letter opens up the question of possible cross-pollinization between Fitzgerald and Hemingway. The places in their work that may indicate such an influence are rare—for example, the series of “Yes” answers by Anson Hunter in “The Rich Boy,” when he visits Paula and her husband, resembles Hemingway’s dialogue. The evidence is slender. Fitzgerald and Hemingway had developed their styles before they met in 1925; they were beyond imitation. Nevertheless, other forms of influence were possible, both personal and aesthetic. Fitzgerald probably drew on Hemingway for Tommy Barban, the soldier of fortune in Tender Is the Night. The specific aesthetic influence of Hemingway on Tender that Fitzgerald acknowledges in his letter was the theory about the function of the ending of a novel. When they discussed A Farewell to Arms in 1929, Hemingway had persuaded Fitzgerald that a novel should not end on an emotional peak—a principle Fitzgerald found substantiated in the work of Joseph Conrad and David Garnett. The formulation of the “dying fall” ending was collaborative, resulting from discussions between Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Soon after Tender was published, Fitzgerald commented to H. L. Mencken about the reviewers’ failure to understand the intention of the novel: “. . . the motif of the ’dying fall’ was absolutely deliberate and did not come from any diminuition of vitality, but from a definite plan. That particular trick is one that Ernest Hemmingway and I worked out—probably from Conrad’s preface to ’The Nigger’—and it has been the greatest ’credo’ in my life, ever since I decided that I would rather be an artist than a careerist.” In 1936 Fitzgerald explained to John O’Hara:
—the only effect I ever had on Ernest was to get him in a receptive mood and say let’s cut everything that goes before this. The pieces got mislaid and he caould never find the part that I said to cut out. And so he published it without that and later we agreed that it was a very wise cut. This is not literally true and I don’t want it established as part of the Hemingway Legend, but it’s just about as far as one writer can go in helping another. Years later when Ernest was writing Farewell to Arms he was in doubt about the ending and marketed around to half a dozen people for their advice. I worked like hell on the idea and only succeeded in evolving a philosophy in his mind utterly contrary to everything that he thought an ending should be and later convinced me that he was right and made me end Tender Is the Night on a fade away instead of a staccato.
When Edmund Wilson was editing The Crack-Up, he showed Fitzgerald’s carbon copy of this letter to Hemingway, who annotated it: “This is all nonsense. EH He is referring to my cutting the first paragraphs of a story called Fifty grand. It is a funny story which I would be glad to give you if you like EH.”
A year after publication of Tender Fitzgerald admitted to Perkins that Part III of his novel was not tightly organized: “If I had one more crack at it cold sober I believe it might have made a great difference. Even Ernest commented on sections that were needlessly included and as an artist he is as near as I know for a final reference.”
In 1933 Arnold Gingrich, editor of the new magazine Esquire, made a deal with Hemingway to pay him Esquire’s top price of $250 for a series of monthly articles called letters. A passionate admirer of both Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s writing, Gingrich was happy to add Fitzgerald to his roster of authors at $250 per contribution the next year. Fitzgerald’s first Esquire appearance was “Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number—,” a two-part article by-lined as by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in the May and June 1934 issues.
During the summer of 1934 Perkins was trying to expedite publication of Fitzgerald’s fourth story collection, Taps at Reveille, which Fitzgerald was holding in order to remove the story passages that he had incorporated in Tender. Perkins assured him that such repetition is permissible. “Hem has done it.” Fitzgerald replied rather stiffly on 24 August: “The fact that Ernest has let himself repeat here and there a phrase would be no possible justification for me doing the same. Each of us has his virtues and one of mine happens to be a great sense of exactitude about my work. He might be able to afford a lapse in that line where I wouldn’t be and after all I have got to be the final judge of what is appropriate in these cases.” Taps was published on 20 March 1935 in a printing of 5000 copies—which satisfied the demand. The stories were largely retrospective, with seven of the Basil and Josephine stories; the collection also included three of Fitzgerald’s best stories—“Crazy Sunday,” “The Last of the Belles,” and “Babylon Revisited.”
After Tender Is the Night Fitzgerald projected a novel set in ninth-century France, an account of the attempts by young Philippe, Count of Villefranche, to reclaim his father’s territory. The characterization of Philippe was based on Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald made this Notebook entry: “Just as Stendahl’s portrait of a Byronic man made Le Rouge et Noir so couldn’t my portrait of Ernest as Phillipe make the real modern man.” It was clear that Tender was not going to solve Fitzgerald’s money problems, and his ability to write stories for The Saturday Evening Post was fading. His plan was to treat the Philippe material as a series of stories in Redbook for ready cash and then to revise the stories into a novel. The first story, “In the Darkest Hour,” published in October 1934, may have been written as early as April. Three more Philippe stories were written, which Redbook bought with increasing reluctance; and Fitzgerald abandoned the project in 1935—at least for the time being. While he was working on them, Fitzgerald had a scare when he learned that Hemingway had a new book ready. On 20 November 1934 Fitzgerald wrote to Perkins: “I hope to God it isn’t the crusading story that he once had in mind, for I would hate like hell for my 9th century novel to have to compete with that.” Hemingway’s new book was Green Hills of Africa.
The medieval stories—Fitzgerald’s only extended attempt at historical fiction—were bad and have been largely ignored. Fitzgerald later wrote Perkins: “You will remember that the plan in the beginning was tremendously ambitious—there was to have been Philippe as a young man founding his fortunes—Philippe as a middle-aged man participating in the Captian founding of France as a nation—Philippe as an old man and the consolidation of the feudal system. It was to have covered a span of about sixty years from 880 A.D. to 950.” In the first four stories twenty-year-old Philippe enters the Loire Valley, organizes the peasants, defeats a band of marauding Vikings, builds a stronghold, treats with the powers of Church and State, and enters into a compact with a witchcraft cult. He is determined, resourceful, and unbelievable. The most obvious difficulty was linguistic, as Fitzgerald tried to convey the speech of medieval French peasants by making them talk like American sharecroppers. Philippe uses a kind of hard-boiled slang that seems to derive from the pulp detective magazines. The effect is incongruous and even inadvertently funny: “‘Call me “Sire!”… And remember; There’s no bedroom talk floating around this precinct!’“ Anyone who did not know that Philippe was modeled on Hemingway would not be likely to make the identification. There is nothing to indicate that Hemingway recognized himself—if he ever read the stories. Fitzgerald never really gave up on the medieval material; and in 1939 when he was planning The Last Tycoon he was still considering whether it would be better to return to Philippe instead.
In May 1934, after his return from Africa, Hemingway acquired the Pilar, a 38-foot Wheeler cruiser, and began inviting friends to Key West for fishing trips. Arnold Gingrich, the editor of Esquire, was invited for December and proposed bringing Fitzgerald along. Hemingway agreed, but on 3 December Fitzgerald wired:
DEAR ERNEST SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET DOWN THIS WEEK AND I CERTAINLY REGRET IT AND I APPRECIATE YOUR INVITATION HAD SO MANY THINGS TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT WITH BEST WISHES ALWAYS TO YOU AND YOURS = SCOTT.
Gingrich and Fitzgerald cooked up the excuse that his mother’s illness prevented him from leaving Baltimore; but the real reason was that Fitzgerald was intimidated by the prospect of being with Hemingway in his Florida principality. He explained to Perkins, “Your suggestion to go to Key West is tempting as hell but I don’t know whether it would be advisable on either Ernest’s account or mine.” Perkins was scheduled to go to Key West in January 1935 to read the typescript of Green Hills of Africa. He, too, asked permission to bring Fitzgerald. Hemingway replied on 28 December 1934 that he would like to see Scott after the revision of Green Hills, but that it would be hard to work with Scott there because he would try to help. Scott’s advice about revising a book is worthless. Ernest will show Max Scott’s suggestion for improving A Farewell to Arms by inserting a scene in which Frederic Henry reads about the American Marines while Catherine is in labor.
On 27 February 1935 Perkins reported to Hemingway that Fitzgerald was on the wagon, and suggested that Hemingway might be able to encourage him. Through March-June Perkins sent Hemingway bulletins announcing that Fitzgerald was still on the wagon. Whether he did quit drinking altogether is questionable. Like most alcoholics, he defined being on the wagon in special ways; at this time it meant drinking only beer. In 1935 Fitzgerald became anxious about a recurrence of tuberculosis and began making trips to the mountain area around Asheville, North Carolina. After Zelda suffered her third breakdown, Fitzgerald placed her in the Highland Hospital at Asheville in April 1936 and moved to the Grove Park Inn. The 1935-1937 period has become known as “The Crack-Up,” from the essay Fitzgerald wrote about it. No longer able to produce the short stories that had brought $4000 each from The Saturday Evening Post, he sank into debt, despair, and illness. His income came from an occasional sale to the slick magazines (which had cut his price), $250 checks from Esquire (which would take virtually anything he submitted), and advances from Harold Ober (which were really loans).
Hemingway’s judgment of his work continued to matter to Scott. When Perkins relayed a message from Hemingway on 8 April 1935—“A strange thing is that in retrospect his Tender is the Night gets better and better. I wish you would tell him I said so”—Fitzgerald pasted it in his scrapbook. He responded to Perkins—not to Hemingway. “Thanks for the message from Ernest. I’d like to see him too and I always think of my friendship with him as being one of the high spots in my life. But I still believe that such things have a mortality, perhaps in reaction to their very excessive life, and that we will never again see very much of each other. I appreciate what he said about ’Tender is the Night.’ “
On 13 May 1935 Fitzgerald tried to arrange a reunion with Hemingway, promising that he would be sober:
WANT TO SEE YOU AS AM GOING TO CAROLINA FOR SUMMER COULD MAKE THREE DAY STAY KEYWEST ARRIVING THIS THURSDAY BUT WANT [sic] TO INTERFERE YOUR PLANS STOP NOT UP TO ANYTHING STRENUOUS PROBABLY RESULT OF TEA-TOTALING SINCE JANUARY WIRE THIRTEEN NAUGHT SEVEN PARK AVENUE BALTIMORE = SCOTT.
Pauline wired that Ernest was in Bimini.
Green Hills of Africa, Hemingway’s nonfiction novel about his safari, was published 25 October 1935 after serialization in Scribner’s Magazine. The first printing of 10,550 copies satisfied the demand for the book. The reviews were mixed, with several critics objecting to the irrelevance of the material to contemporary problems. Bernard De Voto in The Saturday Review of Literature called it “a pretty small book for a big man to write.” In the New Masses Granville Hicks urged Hemingway to write a novel about a strike. Hemingway anticipated the response from the Left and had eloquently answered it in the book: “A country, finally, erodes and the dust blows away, the people all die and none of them were of any importance permanently, except those who practised the arts, and these now wish to cease their work because it is too lonely, too hard to do, and is not fashionable. A thousand years makes economics silly and a work of art endures for ever, but it is very difficult to do and now it is not fashionable.” Green Hills of Africa includes an oblique reference to Fitzgerald. Discoursing on the ways American writers are destroyed, Hemingway says that at present there are “two good writers who cannot write because they have lost confidence through reading critics. If they wrote, sometimes it would be good and sometimes not so good and sometimes it would be quite bad, but the good would get out. But they have read the critics and they must write masterpieces. The masterpieces the critics said they wrote. They weren’t masterpieces, of course. They were just quite good books. So now they cannot write at all. The critics have made them impotent.” Those writers are not identified, but one is clearly Fitzgerald. Here again Hemingway advances his pet theory that Fitzgerald was blocked by Gilbert Seldes’ review of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s reaction to this passage is unknown, but he certainly read it. He read everything Hemingway wrote.
Fitzgerald’s letter to Hemingway about Green Hills of Africa is lost, but it obviously expressed reservations. Hemingway responded from Key West on 16 December saying that he is happy to see that Scott still doesn’t know what is a good book. Ernest recently found Scott’s letter of advice about A Farewell to Arms, and the letter about Green Hills is more of the same. Scott is like a brilliant mathematician who always gets the wrong answers. Despite Scott’s bad drinking behavior, his friends are still fond of him, Sara Murphy talked to Ernest for an afternoon about Scott. Ernest started for Asheville to see Scott last September, but had to change his plans. He wants to talk to Scott. “The more I think back to it the better book Tender Is The Night is.” He invites Scott to Key West and suggests that they go to Havana for the Joe Louis fight (which was canceled).
On the 21st of December 1935 Hemingway replied to a gloomy letter from Fitzgerald—which has not been found. He invites Scott to Key West and lectures him on his regret for his lost youth. “If you really feel blue enough get yourself heavily insured and I’ll see you can get killed [in Cuba] …and I’ll write you a fine obituary… and we can take your liver out and give it to the Princeton Museum, your heart to the Plaza Hotel, one lung to Max Perkins and the other to George Horace Lorimer. If we can still find your balls I will take them via the Ile de France to Paris and down to Antibes and have them cast into the sea off Eden Roc and we will get MacLeish to write a Mystic Poem to be read at that Catholic School (Newman?) you went to. Would you like me to write the mystic poem now. Let’ see.” An eighteen-line free-verse parody followed.
By August 1936 eleven Fitzgerald pieces had appeared in Esquire, most of which were retrospective essays. The contributions that attracted the most attention were a group of confessional articles—beginning with “The Crack-Up” in the February 1936 issue—in which Fitzgerald analyzed his “emotional bankruptcy.” In “Pasting It Together” (March 1936) Fitzgerald stipulated his admiration for Hemingway: “That a third contemporary had been an artistic conscience for me—I had not imitated his infectious style, because my own style, such as it is, was formed before he published anything, but there was an awful pull toward him when I was in a spot.” Hemingway was not named, but the identification was obvious.
Perkins and Ober felt that these articles were seriously damaging Fitzgerald’s reputation and urged him to stop writing them. Ernest felt more strongly about them, regarding such public confessions as shameless and contemptible. Hemingway wrote to John Dos Passos expressing shock at “The Crack-Up” when he read it in January. On 7 February Hemingway wrote to Perkins about Fitzgerald’s perverse pride in defeat as revealed in the “miserable” Esquire articles. Scott could never think straight, but he has a marvelous talent which he is wasting by publicly whining. If Scott had been in the war he would have been shot for cowardice. Ernest admits that it is rotten to attack Scott after all his troubles, but his troubles were his own fault. The only thing that would help Scott is work for its own sake—not for money. Scott has passed from youth to senility but avoided manhood. Ernest wishes he could help him.
Hemingway maintained his friendship with Gerald and Sara Murphy during the thirties. His letters to the Murphys mention Fitzgerald infrequently and contemptuously. After publication of “The Crack-Up,” Hemingway compared the troubles the Murphys have experienced to Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow—from which Scott would have deserted during the first week. Describing how amberjacks chased a fish he had hooked, Hemingway comments that they chased the fish because it ran: “Make a note of that for Mr. FitzGerald.”
It is possible that Hemingway’s reaction to “The Crack-Up” articles was intensified by seeing them in the magazine where he was the star contributor. But Esquire was Fitzgerald’s only dependable market. The August 1936 issue included Fitzgerald’s “Afternoon of an Author” and Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” “Afternoon of an Author” is a confessional sketch about a writer who is unable to write. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” a long story about a dying writer who has become corrupted by his marriage to a wealthy woman, includes the comment that “poor Scott Fitzgerald” was “wrecked” by his “romantic awe” of the rich. Fitzgerald’s 16 July 1936 response from Asheville was remarkably controlled:
Please lay off me in print. If I choose to write de profundis sometimes it doesn’t mean I want friends praying aloud over my corpse. No doubt you meant it kindly but it cost me a night’s sleep. And when you incorporate it (the story) in a book would you mind cutting my name?
It’s a fine story—one of your best—even though the “Poor Scott Fitzgerald ect” rather spoiled it for me
Ever Your Friend
Riches have never facinated me, unless combined with the greatest charm or distinction.
Perkins had been present when Mary Colum delivered the rejoinder to Hemingway: “The only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.” Perkins did not mention the “poor Scott” reference in his 21 July letter to Hemingway praising “Snows.” Perkins was satisfied to write his cousin Elizabeth Lemmon, who was Fitzgerald’s friend, on 16 August calling Hemingway’s reference to Fitzgerald “contemptible” and telling her about the Hemingway-Colum exchange.
Hemingway wrote to Perkins on the 22nd of July commenting on Fitzgerald’s letter of protest, which he found strange coming from a man who had published the “Crack-Up” articles. Hemingway reports he told Scott that for five years he has refrained from writing about people he knows—because he was sorry for them—but now Ernest is going to stop being a gentleman and return to being a novelist. Hemingway’s letter to Fitzgerald does not survive; Arnold Gingrich read it and has described it in “Scott, Ernest and Whoever” (1966) as “brutal,” with language “that you’d hesitate to use on a yellow dog.” Why did Gingrich print “the poor Scott” passage in Esquire? Although Gingrich never answered this question, the explanation seems clear enough. Gingrich was so proud to have Hemingway as a regular contributor in Esquire that he did not want to run the risk of alienating him. Gingrich’s 1966 article reports that when he was fishing with Hemingway at Bimini in June 1936 he committed the blunder of praising Fitzgerald’s style and was shushed by a member of Hemingway’s Bimini entourage: “ ’We don’t say things like that around here.’ “ Gingrich was himself obeying the don’t-upset-Ernest rule: “Thinking back on it now, it occurs to me that at that very moment the presses were turning, back in Chicago, with the August ’36 issue of Esquire containing the first printed appearance of The Snows of Kilimanjaro with its line, later changed, referring to ’poor Scott Fitzgerald,’ but I’m sure I never gave that a thought at the time.”
On the 15th of September—two months after “Snows” appeared—Fitzgerald wrote to Beatrice Dance, with whom he had engaged in a brief affair in North Carolina, providing a report of his correspondence with Hemingway:
As to Ernest, at first I resented his use of my name in the story and I wrote him a somewhat indignant letter, telling him it must not be republished in a book. He answered, agreeing, but rather resentfully and saying that he felt that since I had chosen to expose my private life so “shamelessly” in Esquire, he felt that it was sort of an open season for me, and I wrote him a hell of a letter which would have been sudden death for somebody the next time we met, and decided, hell let it go. Too often literary men allow themselves to get into inter-necine quarrels and finish about as victoriously as most of the nations at the end of the World War. I consider it an example of approaching maturity on my part and am proud of my self control. He is quite as nervously broken down as I am but it manifests itself in different ways. His inclination is toward megalomania and mine toward melancholy.
Four days later Fitzgerald wrote to Perkins:
I feel that I must tell you something which at first seemed better to leave alone: I wrote Ernest about that story of his, asking him in the most measured terms not to use my name in future pieces of fiction. He wrote me back a crazy letter, telling me about what a great Writer he was and how much he loved his children, but yielding the point—“If I should out live him—” which he doubted. To have answered it would have been like fooling with a lit firecracker. Somehow I love that man, no matter what he says or does, but just one more crack and I think I would have to throw my weight with the gang and lay him. No one could ever hurt him in his first books but he has completely lost his head and the duller he gets about it, the more he is like a punch-drunk pug fighting himself in the movies.
Carlos Baker, Hemingway’s biographer, suggests that “Snows” reveals his morbid concern that he might die without having fulfilled his talent. He had not, in fact, published a novel in seven years. Fitzgerald recognized that around 1936 Hemingway underwent a personality shift—as though he had come to believe the Hemingway legends. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald was determined to avoid a final break with the living writer he most admired.
Perkins replied to Fitzgerald: “As for what Ernest did, I resented it, and when it comes to book publication, I shall have it out with him. It is odd about it too because I was present when that reference was made to the rich, and the retort given, and you were many miles away.” Perkins did not, however, tell Fitzgerald about the actual exchange between Hemingway and Mary Colum.
On 19 March 1937 Perkins assured Fitzgerald that “poor Scott” would be deleted from “Snows.” “As for Ernest, I know he will cut that piece out of his story. He spoke to me a while ago about it, and his feelings toward you are far different from what you seem to suspect. I think he had some queer notion that he would give you a ’jolt’ and that it might be good for you, or something like that. Anyhow, he means to take it out.”
Given the hurt generated by “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” it is revealing that Fitzgerald turned to Hemingway for help in September 1936 when he was again publicly humiliated. On his fortieth birthday—24 September 1936—Fitzgerald gave an interview in Asheville to Michel Mok, which appeared in the New York Post the next day headlined: “The Other Side of Paradise / Scott Fitzgerald, 40, / Engulfed in Despair / Broken in Health He Spends Birthday Re- / gretting That He Has Lost Faith in His Star.” The article portrayed him as a broken, crying drunk. When he saw it Fitzgerald attempted suicide by swallowing morphine, which he vomited up. Fitzgerald felt that Mok had ruined him, the more so since the interview was picked up in Time. Among the Fitzgerald Papers there is a Western Union form dated 28 September for a wire to Hemingway at Cook City, Montana, written in an unidentified hand: “If you ever wanted to help me your chance is now Stop A man named Michael Moch has taken advantage of an interview to spread me all over the N.Y. Evening Post in an absurd position Stop It cuts in on me directly and indirectly—Scott.” There is no evidence that this wire was sent, but Fitzgerald sent another wire to Hemingway c/o Scribners, which was probably forwarded. Hemingway replied that he had not seen the Mok article but was ready to help. Fitzgerald wired back:
WIRED UNDER IMPRESSION YOU WERE IN NEW YORK NOTHING CAN BE DONE AT LONG RANGE AND ON COOLER CONSIDERATION SEEMS NOTHING TO BE DONE ANYHOW THANKS BEST ALWAYS SCOTT.
On the first of October 1936 Perkins sent Hemingway a situation report on Fitzgerald. “I don’t know what you could do for him, but the interview he gave the Post was frightful. It seemed as if Scott were bent on destroying himself.” Scott had trusted Mok and said things that were not for publication, but the reporter had betrayed Scott’s confidence. Scott’s mother left him $20,000, and Perkins has told him that he must write for two years with this inheritance. “I told him that this was the only way to answer what this reporter had done.” Perhaps, Perkins tells Hemingway, having hit bottom, Scott may rebound from the shock of the Post article. Perkins manages to find some comfort in the notion that “hardly anybody reads the New York Post.”
The Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936, but Hemingway did not go to report it until March 1937. He was committed to the Loyalists, who were backed by Russia, and for a time it appeared that Hemingway had entered a period of political activism. The Left hoped so and began to welcome him into the fold, interpreting his involvement with the Loyalists as evidence that he had outgrown his egotistical and irrelevant interests. The Leftists were naive, for Hemingway’s anti-Fascism never made him a pro-Communist. He was always suspicious of organizations and movements, trusting only his own instincts. Above all, Hemingway was suspicious of any attempt to organize writers, believing always that the writer must be a loner.
The hurt over “Snows” remained, but Fitzgerald maintained his interest in Hemingway’s career and wrote Perkins predicting that the Spanish War would provide Hemingway with new material:
Ernest ought to write a swell book now about Spain—real Richard Harding Davis reporting or better. (I mean not the sad jocosity of P.O.M. passages or the mere callender of slaughter.) And speaking of Ernest, did I tell you that when I wrote asking him to cut me out of his story he answered, with ill grace, that he would—in fact he answered with such unpleasantness that it is hard to think he has any friendly feeling to me any more. Anyhow please remember that he agreed to do this if the story should come in with me still in it.
In Spain Hemingway began his liaison with writer Martha Gellhorn, who became his third wife in 1940. At the time of their meeting he was thirty-seven; she was twenty-nine. In the spring of 1937 Hemingway wrote war dispatches for the North American Newspaper Alliance and worked on a propaganda movie, The Spanish Earth.
On 4 June 1937 Hemingway addressed the American Writers’ Congress at Carnegie Hall in New York. The meeting was sponsored by the League of American Writers, whose president was Donald Ogden Stewart—“Bill Gorton” in The Sun Also Rises, now a screenwriter and political activist. Earl Browder, the Secretary of the American Communist Party, was also on the program. Archibald MacLeish chaired the meeting. Hemingway’s short speech was an attack on Fascism: “There is only one form of government that cannot produce good writers, and that system is fascism. For fascism is a lie told by bullies.” Although the speech was not eloquent, it received thunderous applause from the audience, who regarded it as a symbolic event. Hemingway was with them. The most famous living American writer had joined the cause.
The Carnegie Hall meeting provided the occasion for the penultimate meeting between Fitzgerald and Hemingway. At this time Fitzgerald was coming out of his “Crack-Up” and was seeking movie employment as the only way to pay off his debts—which may have amounted to $40,000. Hemingway’s appearance in New York was well-publicized in advance, and Fitzgerald probably made a trip from North Carolina to see him. The only evidence of this reunion is Fitzgerald’s note mailed to Hemingway from the train at Washington on 5 June:
It was fine to see you so well + full of life, Ernest. I hope you’ll make your book fat—I know some of that Esquire work is too good to leave out. All best wishes to your Spanish trip—I wish we could meet more often. I don’t feel I know you at all.
Going South always seems to me rather desolate + fatal and uneasy. This is no exception. Going north is a safe dull feeling.
The meeting appears to have been sober and friendly. It is noteworthy that even at this stage Fitzgerald retained an almost proprietary interest in Hemingway’s career. Hemingway was considering including stories with To Have and Have Not, and Fitzgerald approved of the plan. (The published volume included only the novel.)
Harold Ober arranged a six-month contract for Fitzgerald at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $1000 a week, with a renewal option for a year at $1250. Fitzgerald arrived in Hollywood the first week of July 1937. A few days later Hemingway came to show The Spanish Earth and raise money for the Loyalists. This occasion was the final meeting between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Lillian Hellman has published her recollections of this evening (although she mis-dates it as occurring in 1938.) Fitzgerald was present when Hemingway showed The Spanish Earth at the home of Fredric March. Afterward some of the guests were invited to Dorothy Parker’s house for drinks. Fitzgerald offered to drive Miss Hellman, but said he didn’t want to go in. On the wagon and nervous, he was intimidated by Ernest. She coaxed Fitzgerald into the house. As they entered the living room, Hemingway—who had his back to the door—threw a glass into the fireplace. Fitzgerald wanted to leave but she took him to the kitchen, where Dashiell Hammett was talking to Dorothy Parker. Miss Hellman does not recall if Fitzgerald talked to Hemingway and did not notice when Fitzgerald left. Some time later when Hemingway challenged Hammett to a spoon-bending contest in the Stork Club, Hammett said, “Why don’t you go back to bullying Fitzgerald? Too bad he doesn’t know how good he is. The best.”
The morning after the movie showing, Fitzgerald wired Hemingway: THE PICTURE WAS BEYOND PRAISE AND SO WAS YOUR ATTITUDE = SCOTT. On 15 July Fitzgerald reported to Perkins: “I felt he was in a state of nervous tensity, that there was something almost religious about it.”
At MGM Fitzgerald was put to work revising A Yank at Oxford and then was given the choice assignment to write the screenplay for Erich Maria Remarque’s Three Comrades. He stayed on the wagon for the time being. Although he quarreled with producer Joseph Mankiewicz on Three Comrades, the movie was highly successful, and his option was picked up at the end of 1937. Fitzgerald’s chief problem in Hollywood was that he could not work well with collaborators, which was the way most screenplays were put together. Shortly after his arrival he met Sheilah Graham, the English Hollywood columnist, who became his companion and lover. They made a life together, and Fitzgerald found a measure of happiness and even peace in Hollywood. Zelda Fitzgerald remained at Highland Hospital; Fitzgerald’s visits to see her in North Carolina usually triggered his drinking bouts.
With Fitzgerald in Hollywood and Hemingway in Spain or Cuba or Sun Valley with Martha Gellhorn, Perkins continued to keep them informed about each other. In August 1937 Hemingway and critic Max Eastman engaged in a well-publicized brawl in Perkins’ office. Eastman had referred to Hemingway’s false hair-on-the-chest manner in reviewing Death in the Afternoon, which Hemingway interpreted as imputing that he was impotent. On 3 September Fitzgerald responded to Perkins’ detailed account.
I was thoroughly amused by your descriptions, but what transpires is that Ernest did exactly the asinine thing that I knew he had it in him to do when he was out here. The fact that he lost his temper only for a minute does not minimize the fact that he picked the exact wrong minute to do it. His discretion must have been at low ebb or he would not have again trusted the reporters at the boat.
He is living at the present in a world so entirely his own that it is impossible to help him, even if I felt close to him at the moment, which I don’t. I like him so much, though, that I wince when anything happens to him, and I feel rather personally ashamed that it has been possible for imbeciles to dig at him and hurt him. After all, you would think that a man who has arrived at the position of being practically his country’s most imminent writer, could be spared that yelping.
Hemingway’s third novel, To Have and Have Not, was published on 15 October 1937. It was a disappointing work for his first novel in eight years, but it sold 36,000 copies—largely on the strength of Hemingway’s reputation. To Have and Have Not did not represent eight years of work, and it wasn’t really a novel. Occupied with Spain and Martha, he assembled a book from two previously published stories (“One Trip Across,” Cosmopolitan [April 1934] and “The Tradesman’s Return,” Esquire [February 1936]), adding a long third section. It looked patched-together. The opening section was written in the first person and the other sections in the third person.
On 3 February 1938 Perkins reported to Hemingway that Fitzgerald had been in New York and was in good shape. Scott said that Ernest is “the most dynamic personality” in the world. Hemingway replied that he would have liked to see old Scott, but states that he never wanted to be dynamic; he just wanted to be a writer.
Fitzgerald continued to worry about “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and on 4 March 1938 he reminded Perkins to remove his name when the story was published in book form:
The enclosed letter… shows quite definitely how a whole lot of people interpreted Ernest’s crack at me in “Snows of K.” When I called him on it, he promised in a letter that he would not reprint it in book form. Of course, since then, it has been in O’Brien’s collection [The Best Short Stories of 1937], but I gather he can’t help that. If, however, you are publishing a collection of his this fall, do keep in mind that he has promised to make an elision of my name. It was a damned rotten thing to do, and with anybody but Ernest my tendency would be to crack back. Why did he think it would add to the strength of his story if I had become such a negligible figure? This is quite indefensible on any grounds.
Perkins reassured Fitzgerald on 9 March: “You know our position about Ernest’s story “The Snows”.—Don’t be concerned about it.” During the summer of 1938 Perkins was working with Hemingway on his collected short stories, The First Forty-Nine Stories. On the 9th of August Perkins reminded him about his promise to emend “Snows”: “And by the way, you were going to take out F.S.F. weren’t you, from ’The Snows of Kilimanjaro’?” Hemingway revised the passage but retained the name “Scott.” Perkins responded on 23 August in his best diplomatic style:
As to the Scott passage, you amended it very neatly.— But I greatly wish his name could come out altogether. If people reading the story do not identify “Scott” as F.S.F., it might as well be some other name (one realizes he is a writer in the very next sentence) and if they do identify him, it seems to me it takes them out of the story for a moment. It takes their attention to the question of what this means about Scott. You did take out the things that could hurt and I showed the amended passage to two people who had never read the story and they thought Scott might still feel badly, being very sensitive, but that they hardly thought there was much reason for it now. If his name could come out without hurting, it would be good.—But I’ll bring up the matter when you are here.
After Hemingway came to New York, Perkins wrote to Fitzgerald on 1 September saying that he wishes he could talk to him about Ernest. Perkins is uncertain about Ernest’s plan for a new work and would like to have Scott’s reaction. Scribners is going to publish Ernest’s collected stories. “One of the new stories is ’The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ and you are not in it.”
The final decision was to change “poor Scott Fitzgerald” to “poor Julian,” leaving the rest of the passage unrevised. All subsequent Scribners printings have retained “Julian.” Writing to Arthur Mizener in 1951 to acknowledge receipt of his biography of Fitzgerald, Hemingway remarked that Fitzgerald should have known that in “Snows” Harry would have mentioned Scott the same way that Fitzgerald used real things in his own writing. A. E. Hotchner has reported that in 1955 Hemingway told him it was time to put Scott back in the story.
The Fifth Column and The First Forty-Nine Stories was published 14 October 1938. The Fifth Column, Hemingway’s first and only play, was a propagandistic treatment of the Scarlet Pimpernel-in-Madrid, but its topicality—and the fact that it was by Hemingway—attracted enough attention to secure a Broadway production of eighty-seven performances.
Fitzgerald tried to supervise his daughter’s reading at Vassar by mail from Hollywood, and Hemingway was one of the authors he assigned her. On 15 November 1938 he reprimanded Scottie: “How you could possibly have missed the answer to my first question I don’t know, unless you skipped pages 160 to 170 in Farewell to Arms. Try again!”
When Thomas Wolfe’s The Web and the Rock (1939) portrayed Perkins unflatteringly as Foxhall Edwards, Fitzgerald wrote to sympathize with Perkins on 25 February 1939: “It is astonishing what people will do though. Ernest’s sharp turn against me always seemed to have pointless childish quality—so much so that I really never felt any resentment about it.”
There is a published report of a final Hollywood reunion between Fitzgerald and Hemingway; but it did not happen. Aaron Latham’s Crazy Sundays (1971) includes Charles Marquis Warren’s account of how Hemingway came to board with Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham at Malibu Beach in the summer of 1938. According to Warren—who was also living in the Malibu cottage— Hemingway was broke and Fitzgerald gave him a $25-a-week allowance. Warren reports that Hemingway worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls on the beach at night by lantern light, and he claims that Hemingway gave him one of the sleeping-bag scenes to read. One day, according to Warren, Fitzgerald took Hemingway to MGM. After calling producer Bernard Hyman a “Heeb,” Hemingway insulted Louis B. Mayer, who had him thrown off the lot. It did not happen. None of it ever happened. Warren’s account is not substantiated by anyone else, and Sheilah Graham—who was living with Fitzgerald—denies it. In the summer of 1938 Hemingway was in Key West and Wyoming; he did not start For Whom the Bell Tolls until 1939 in Cuba.
After Fitzgerald’s MGM contract elapsed in January 1939, he free-lanced at other studios while planning a Hollywood novel. On 25 March 1939 Hemingway wrote Perkins that he had just re-read Tender Is the Night and was amazed by “how excellent much of it is.” It would have been a fine novel if Scott could have integrated it better. Ernest wishes Scott could have kept writing. Is Scott all finished? Ernest asks Perkins to give Scott his great affection, admitting, “(I always had a very stupid little boy feeling of superiority about Scott—like a tough durable little boy sneering at a delicate but talented little boy.) Reading that novel much of it was so good it was frightening.” Fitzgerald was not finished. By late summer 1939 he was writing The Last Tycoon. The work went slowly, but it went. With no income and no savings, Fitzgerald was supporting himself and his family with $250 checks from Esquire for the seventeen Pat Hobby stories about a broken-down Hollywood hack.
Through 1939 and 1940 Perkins kept Hemingway informed about the progress of Fitzgerald’s novel—carefully obeying Fitzgerald’s instructions to keep the nature of the material a secret. Perkins told Hemingway that Scott expects Scribners to bankroll him with an advance, but Perkins cannot justify it. On 19 December 1939 Perkins wrote Hemingway that Fitzgerald was sick, but that it is hard to tell what the situation really is because Scott always hires trained nurses: “I would feel as if it might as well be an undertaker, and even more embarrassing.” After a couple of benders, Fitzgerald was again firmly on the wagon. An indication of Fitzgerald’s respect for Hemingway’s authority, as well at Fitzgerald’s sense of isolation from him, is provided by his 6 June 1940 letter to Perkins inquiring about Hemingway’s sense of how World War II would go—asking for “at least a clue to Ernest’s attitude.”
While Fitzgerald was struggling with illness and debt to write The Last Tycoon, Hemingway enjoyed his greatest success when For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in October 1940. His first major work of fiction since 1929, the novel sold more than 270,000 copies in its first year. Hemingway sent his novel to Fitzgerald inscribed “To Scott with affection and esteem Ernest.” The ironic reversal of their fortunes since 1925 was painfully apparent to Fitzgerald. In his weekly letter to Zelda of 26 October he commented:
Ernest sent me his book and I’m in the middle of it. It is not as good as the “Farewell to Arms”. It doesn’t seem to have the tensity or the freshness nor has it the inspired poetic moments. But I imagine it would please the average type of reader, the mind who used to enjoy Sinclair Lewis, more than anything he has written. It is full of a lot of rounded adventures on the Huckleberry Finn order and of course it is highly intelligent and literate like everything he does. I suppose life takes a good deal out of you and you never can quite repeat. But the point is he is making a fortune out of it—has sold it to the movies for over a hundred thousand dollars and as it’s The Book-of-the-Month selection he will make $5o,ooo from it in that form. Rather a long cry from his poor rooms over the saw mill in Paris.
Fitzgerald acknowledged the inscribed copy with a warm letter of congratulation, obliquely referring to his efforts to complete his own novel:
November 8, 1940
It’s a fine novel, better than anybody else writing could do. Thanks for thinking of me and for your dedication. I read it with intense interest, participating in a lot of the writing problems as they came along and often quite unable to discover how you brought off some of the effects, but you always did. The massacre was magnificent and also the fight on the mountain and the actual dynamiting scene. Of the side shows I particularly liked the vignette of Karkov and Pilar’s Sonata to death—and I had a personal interest in the Moseby guerilla stuff because of my own father. The scene in which the father says goodbye to his son is very powerful. I’m going to read the whole thing again.
I never got to tell you how I liked To Have and to Have Not either. There is observation and writing in that that the boys will be imitating with a vengeance—paragraphs and pages that are right up with Dostoiefski in their undeflected intensity.
Congratulations too on your new book’s great success. I envy you like hell and there is no irony in this. I always liked Dostoiefski with his wide appeal more than any other European—and I envy you the time it will give you to do what you want.
With Old Affection,
P.S. I came across an old article by John Bishop about how you lay four days under dead bodies at Caporetto and how I flunked out of Princeton (I left on a stretcher in November—you can’t flunk out in November) and how I am an awful suck about the rich and a social climber. What I started to say was that I do know something about you on the Italian front, from a man who was in your unit—how you crawled some hellish distance pulling a wounded man with you and how the doctors stood over you wondering why you were alive with so many perforations. Don’t worry—I won’t tell anybody. Not even Allan Campbell who called me up and gave me news of you the other day.
P.S. (2) I hear you are marrying one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Give her my best remembrance.
This was the last letter from Fitzgerald to Hemingway.
Writing to Perkins on 14 October 1940 Fitzgerald had suggested a theory about Hemingway’s marriages: “It will be odd to think of Ernest married to a really attractive woman. I think the pattern will be somewhat different than with his Pygmalion-like creations.” This prediction was sound, for Martha Gellhorn’s pursuit of her own career led to the breakup of the marriage.
Despite his praise to Hemingway, Fitzgerald had strong reservations about For Whom the Bell Tolls. One of his Notebook entries reads: “It is so to speak Ernest’s ’Tale of Two Cities’ though the comparison isn’t apt. I mean it is a thoroughly superficial book which has all the profundity of Rebecca.” And, comparing his work-in-progress on The Last Tycoon with Hemingway’s novel: “I want to write scenes that are frightening and inimitable. I don’t want to be as intelligible to my contemporaries as Ernest who as Gertrude Stein said, is bound for the Museums. I am sure I am far enough ahead to have some small immortality if I can keep well.”
All of his life Fitzgerald had a list-making compulsion. Perhaps because his personal life had been so unstructured, he felt a compensatory need to keep records. The most elaborate attempt was his Ledger, which is virtually an autobiography. He would also make lists on single sheets of paper. One of these, dating from the year of his death, is a chronology of Fitzgerald’s meetings with Hemingway from 1925 to 1937. At the end of it he noted: “Four times in eleven years (1929-1940). Not really friends since ’26.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in Hollywood on 21 December 1940, leaving The Last Tycoon unfinished. On the day of his death he told Sheilah Graham that he hoped to write about the war from Europe: “Ernest won’t have that field all to himself, then.” It is not known how or when in Cuba Hemingway learned of Fitzgerald’s death. He did not attend the funeral in Rockville, Maryland, on 27 December. Perkins sent Hemingway an account of Fitzgerald’s funeral on the 28th: “I thought of telegraphing you, but it didn’t seem as if there were any use in it, and I shrank from doing it.”
It has been incorrectly reported that F. Scott Fitzgerald died with his books out-of-print. The truth is just as bad. At the time of his death all nine of his books were in stock—including copies of the 1925 second printing of The Great Gatsby. In 1940 all of Fitzgerald’s books sold a total of seventy-two copies.
Published as Scott And Ernest: The Authority Of Failure And The Authority Of Success (The Fitzgerald-Hemingway Friendship) by Matthew J. Bruccoli (New York: Random House, 1978); later this text was revised as Fitzgerald And Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship by Matthew J. Bruccoli (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1994).