Who was F. Scott Fitzgerald? Virtually unknown in Europe twenty years ago, long neglected in favor of his contemporaries Hemingway, Dos Passos and Faulkner, on the edge of that world of sound and fury in which critics thought they had found the essence of America, he seemed isolated, an anomaly. What was remembered of him were the extravagant gestures, the dandyish silhouette, his tumultuous love affair with Zelda, his debts, his alcoholism, his meteoric passage through American letters. In short, a notoriety as romantic as it was ephemeral, a legend: the Fitzgerald Story, in which the artist counted for less than the novelist and the novelist mattered less than the public figure.
A question already asked about Henry James could also be applied to Fitzgerald: just how specifically American were his subjects and manner? He was one of the very rare Americans able to speak convincingly of women and love. One of the few, as well, to accord primary importance, in the Flaubertian tradition, to problems of structure and the artfulness of writing. Small wonder that many French writers recognized him as one of them and discussed his work and life with brotherly compassion. This was no one-way empathy; we will note later his enthusiasm for Raymond Radiguet and how shaken he was on reading Marcel Proust. Nor is it surprising that he was the only American novelist of his generation to form a close friendship with a Frenchman his own age, Andre Chamson. Fitzgerald's sensitivity was infinitely closer to that of Europeans than, for example, to that of Hemingway, his fellow traveler through the period between the two world wars.
Fitzgerald lived his period intensely, was deeply marked by it, broken by it. He had been a coddled child deprived of a father's authority, dominated by women. In his Catholic schools he was a poor boy in a rich world, lost in admiration for schoolmates who shone in rugged sports, while his social inferiority and physical ineptitude made him an outsider. He tried to compensate for these handicaps by reading and studying, and he succeeded when he took the trouble; but, like certain European writers, he failed the university examinations that were supposed to point him toward a career. This is why he rushed into World War I as into a kind of initiation; in a manner more European than American, his imagination would be lastingly impressed by that war and especially by the years that followed it and exposed its futility.
In his teens Fitzgerald was drawn toward the world of the rich; he wasfascinated in a very European way by young women who belonged to a social class above his own. He affected a kind of dandyism and posed as a gentleman, but in a postwar period when dances and automobiles were the favorite arenas of feminine conquest, he was a poor dancer and a bad driver. His charm made up for these failures; he was a seducer sure of his power and conscious of his effects. Women and their pursuit were at the core of his work.
Yet Fitzgerald was prey to a sexual uneasiness that curbed his philandering and confirmed his monogamistic impulse. He was drawn toward men with more assertive personalities, such men as Hemingway and Gerald Murphy, around whom may hover an air of unconfessed homosexuality. He assessed the personal weaknesses revealed in this search for strong men, this nostalgia for a missing paternal image, and remodeled himself accordingly; he was not, after all, the superman proclaimed by the American myth. Erratic, suicidal, haunted by the decline of the West, he succumbed as many Europeans were then doing to a morbid fascination with defeat and renunciation. Like them, Fitzgerald had a visceral contempt for the forces of reaction. But while despair at the period's inequities and political corruption was polarizing Europeans toward the political extremes, Fitzgerald found no alternative but a watered-down American-style socialism. So when he took a stand in the depths of the world crisis in the 1930s, it was to urge—along with most of his friends—a Marxism in which he didn't really believe.
The French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, whose career closely paralleled Fitzgerald's, clearly perceived the situation of American authors taken over and used by the forces of money. But, as a man who did not have to live by his pen, who was not subject to the same temptations and pressures as they, he merely saw that situation as a fruitful constraint: “Their pockets are stuffed with dollars. But they are nevertheless unappreciated and they have to struggle with their public, which is in fact healthy and exciting.” While Fitzgerald's critique of American capitalism was trenchant, as his story “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” testifies, while the way in which the rich used their privileges revolted him, he remained a man of his country and of his time, integrated into its ideology, guided in his literary output by the laws of the market. He would have achieved grandeur by writing his major works against the stream, by keeping his distance, being pitiless toward himself and the society that produced him. One way of being American—it was Hemingway's, for example—is to turn one's back on society, to roam free and exalt the virile virtues of man facing danger and death. Another—the one Fitzgerald adopted—is to be a chronicler and interpreter of the pitfalls of one's time, to observe the emergence of new types of people and behavior—in short, to situate reality not only in myth but also in history.
These two attitudes, which Hemingway and Fitzgerald embodied in almost ideal fashion between the wars, were the products of two great currents in American literature, defined by one critic as the confrontation of two kinds of sensitivities: of the “redskin” writers and the “palefaces.” One can no more imagine Fitzgerald in a bullring than one can picture a Hemingway character in a ballroom. Each is defined by the circumstances of his ritual initiation and by the nature of his adversary, by his strategy in love and his struggle with natural forces. They maintained the two options exploited half a century earlier by Mark Twain and Henry James: nature or culture, primitivism or society, organic rejection of urban complexity and corruption or passionate adhesion to a cultural model of grace and elegance.
From Moby-Dick to Huckleberry Finn, from James Fenimore Cooper to Jack London, the American imagination rejected women and the subtleties of amorous intrigue. Rootlessness and violence were the only legitimate ways for its solitary heroes to know and affirm themselves. Henry James had smuggled in a new character, a romantic and cultivated young woman. But his heroine, doomed to renunciation and failure, was too clearly inscribed in the European tradition, from La Princesse de Cleves to Madame Bovary, to find a congenial climate in a resolutely masculine, action-oriented fiction in which male friendship took the place of apprenticeship in love. It fell to Fitzgerald, fifty years later, to reinvent the American girl, to put her across as a model for his contemporaries, to show her no longer as a victim, but victorious, as bold as the Daisy Millers of the past, but successful, independent, invulnerable. With The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, the romance of chivalry for a while dethroned the epic. The woman-idol took the place of the traditional bestiary in American literature's coat of arms.
The cult of the noble savage rode high until World War I, but then a chance was offered to blueblood-loving palefaces: contact with Europe brought home to America the magnitude of its intellectual and artistic provincialism. Everything, beginning with his talent, destined Fitzgerald to become the spokesman for a new attitude that rejected the old alternatives of brutal action in the Stephen Crane style or Henry James's old-fashioned aestheticism. For postwar prosperity brought forward a generation of which he felt a part, one that was impatient for change and that had rejected its predecessors' ways of feeling and living. Chiefly urban, the children of an opulent Midwestern middle class, this generation's mercantile wing identified itself only through what it rejected: boredom, puritanical hypocrisy, hierarchies based on material success.
The tension of the war effort, which had summarized and crowned half a century of economic growth, was followed by an intense period of decompression. To borrow one of Fitzgerald's favorite expressions, it was a carnival, a festival of derision of what once was sacred, of wild extravagance instead of the old spirit of prudence and thrift. The young rebelled against their elders' Babbitts and the American Way of Life; they seceded from it, first at home, then, for the more adventurous among them, across the Atlantic at the Dome and the Select [Montparnasse cafes that were haunts of intellectuals between the wars. (Translator's note.)]. Fitzgerald put his stamp on this new age; henceforth it would be known as the Jazz Age. He gave it its watchwords, its morale; he offered it a whole panoply of attitudes, behavior patterns, judgments. A new romanticism was born, free and easy, with a taste for invective and a love of panache and flamboyance.
Fitzgerald wrote the confessions of a child of his time, and in them the sources of power were passionate love and the new woman, whose face was Zelda's. With the help of prosperity the dream became reality, the imaginary models became social facts. For ten years Fitzgerald's name on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post would be a pledge of modernity for three million young readers. The new Midas of letters, he metamorphosed everything that touched him into fiction, and the recoil converted fiction into reality. This sleight of hand left him a little confused about which side of the mirror he was standing on; there were times, he later mused, when he was not sure Zelda wasn't a character of his own creation.
Sometimes, at a turning in a labyrinth of reflections, he would come up against the sinister image of the person he feared he would become—Dorian Gray's encounter with his debased portrait. After the hoped-for surge, the dreaded fall. His imagination, his life obeyed the laws of a ponderal economy that played tricks with gravity, that tried to outrun a premonition of his fate. A whole system of counterweights and substitutions maintained a balance that was forever jeopardized and always regained. Progress was a series of falls transformed into forward movement. Thus advanced the Roaring Twenties, bobbing like a Cartesian diver as they scaled the clouds: a new era, unballasted, unburdened, soaring. There was no magic, no flying carpet; a more subtle alchemy sent Scott and Zelda aloft in their multicolored balloon. The initial thrust? Love, success, all unknowing of what was cause and what effect, and the simple observation that all that was needed when the basket lost altitude was to write a few pages. Their flame sent the balloon up again, heightened the fliers' intoxication; the corks popped, the bubbles sparkled. Everything was intoxicating in this dizzying flight: the crowd's acclaim, champagne, the joy of loving and the delight of writing.
Here again, he mimed his epoch, preceded it and followed it. Things speeded up prodigiously in the twenties: people freed themselves from age-old constraints, production doubled in ten years, speculation made new millionaires every day on Wall Street. The year of Fitzgerald's birth, 1896, marked the start of a profound change. By then all the virgin lands were occupied; the conquest of the West was over. The last of the desperadoes described by Jack London were forced into exile in the snows of Alaska. Now the great adventure was set in the Midwestern and Easternindustrial and commercial cities; 1896 consecrated the cities' victory over the old agrarian America; social conflicts shook the country; Hearst and Pulitzer launched their newspaper empires that year, and it was in 1896, too, that movies and ragtime appeared in New York. Daimler and Benz had just perfected their internal-combustion engine, and in the following year the first airplane got itself off the ground. Twenty-five years later, propelled by World War I, all America took off, finally rising out of the nineteenth century and, it seemed, out of history. Day after day all the dreams of transcendentalism, all the Utopias on which the American myth was based, became real. Humanity had made a fresh start. Now everything was possible. Money no longer stank; it was a new organ born of man's conformity to his final destiny, a wing that carried him close to divinity, that freed him from the pull of gravity and annulled original sin.
Only a Fitzgerald could find this dizzying metaphor on the point of his pen as a way of exorcising the Puritan voices roaring within him. For he knew we pay for everything; this was what he was paid to know, even as he triumphantly took his part in the great transfiguration. His first novel made him famous overnight, and the price of his magazine stories rose in ten years from $400 to $4,000. Still, like the nation as a whole, he lived on credit, speculating on his future output. His fabulous earnings served only to pay his debts.
It was a precarious balance, a race against time. In the enchanted circle of weightlessness, all the signs were tinged with ambiguity. They never added up to a happy plenitude; there was always something missing, or success turned out to be a prison, or love hobbled him, or drink dulled him or writing became a chore, until the day when the duality ended, when it all went negative and the weakest link snapped. Here too, there is a remarkable synchrony between his fate and the nation's. America's economic system rested on confidence. When this blew like a fuse in October 1929, the whole airy edifice of prosperity collapsed like a house of cards.
In the thirties America entered the deepest depression in its history. And the immediate cause of Fitzgerald's private catastrophe was also the failure of that form of self-confidence we call illusion. Like Gatsby, he knew that experience always fell short of the dream, knew how laughable his attempts were to be the man he wanted to be. He knew, too, that only illusions can bridge the gap. For a long while Zelda, the couple's driving force and the person who set his imagination alight, helped him believe in those illusions, or pretend he believed. Her defection, her slow drift out of love and out of her mind coincided with what he thought of as the end of his youth. It was that youth, that love, those illusions that were buried when, a few months after the Wall Street crash, Zelda was confined in a mental hospital.
At twenty he liked to say he'd commit suicide at thirty—to go out in style and avoid letdowns, like Alexander dying in Babylonia after conquering the East. But fate, having made a hostage of Zelda, denied him thisgaudy gesture. Without “a splendid suicide victoriously fled,” there remained to him only a slow, Irish-style suicide by gin that was to last for ten years after his stunning, American-style success.
“I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives,” he wrote. The curtain did finally seem to have fallen on a romantic drama of which Edgar Allan Poe might as easily have been the sacrificial victim. In the hagiography of great prodigals, Fitzgerald joined the writers who loved pomp and festival and who, thoroughbreds harnessed to base chores, exhausted themselves to pay their debts: Walter Scott, Dumas, Balzac, Lamartine and many others. In Fitzgerald's case there was the added humiliation of proposing novels nobody wanted and scripts that Hollywood disdained.
This was the grimmest of exiles. “We were a sort of royalty, almost infallible, with a sort of magic around us,” he wrote in “Babylon Revisited.” Now he was a king exiled in what was, after all, a second act in which he found himself alone, face to face with himself in a survival he had neither wished for nor imagined could be so cruel and, in the final analysis, so fecund. For while the second panel of the diptych does speak of defeat, impotence, despair of lucky breaks, of facility and euphoria, it also shows the painful experience of a consciousness that had plunged into its deepest recesses, of the rebirth of a man who was crushed, ruined and despised and who yet discovered truths about himself and who reproduced his moral anguish in poignantly humble and simple writing. There are Pascalian echoes in the maturity and gravity he achieved; without them he would still—again —have identified himself with the America Gertrude Stein said had gone from barbarity to decadence without passing through civilization.
One of the most striking phenomena of American literary history after World War II is certainly the extraordinary enthusiasm that developed for F. Scott Fitzgerald both as a man and as a writer. The man who died at the age of forty-four in poverty and almost total oblivion is far more celebrated now than he was in the decade preceding the Great Depression.
Fitzgerald was famous then, but for reasons that often had nothing to do with literature. After the success of This Side of Paradise in 1920, it was the man more than the novelist who made the headlines. He was a celebrity, true, but not even his first book made the best-seller list. Compared with the performance of the really popular books of the period, the sales of This Side of Paradise (44,000 copies the first year) seem low. Five years later The Great Gatsby was considerably less successful (under 20,000), and Tender Is the Night, the last of Fitzgerald's novels published in his lifetime, was a relative failure (fewer than 13,000 copies sold). In 1939 he collected thirty-three dollars in royalties and his books were almost impossible to find.
Despite the glowing newspaper reviews his books received, most of the major American critics maintained a certain reserve toward them because they were unwilling to take seriously a novelist who cashed in on his talent by writing sentimental stories for The Saturday Evening Post. Only his peers, such illustrious forerunners as Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein and T. S. Eliot, and respected contemporaries, such as Edmund Wilson, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, seemed to see in him a writer following a new vein that was to be reckoned with in American letters. And in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Miss Stein did, after all, predict that Fitzgerald would be read when many of his well-known contemporaries were forgotten.
In testimony to this esteem was a “memorial” raised to him in the pages of The New Republic (February 17, March 3 and 17, 1941) shortly after his death, partly to protest the hostile and unfair obituaries that had appeared in the newspapers, but also to pay tribute to his talent and intellectual probity. Like most of Fitzgerald's contemporaries, newspapermen had forgotten the novelist and remembered only the stereotype of Fitzgerald as spokesman for the Roaring Twenties and as a youthful dandy dazzled by the rich and sapped by alcohol. For the first time, then, authoritative voices asserted the primacy of the writer over the public figure. Some months later, Stephen Vincent Benet added his condemnation of the Fitzgerald myth. “This is not a legend,” he said, “this is a reputation—and, seen in perspective, it may well be one of the most secure reputations of our time.”
It was thanks to the loyalty and devotion of a small group of friends and admirers that his work was rescued from oblivion. In the forefront of these are the Princetonians, Fitzgerald's biographers and critics: Henry Dan Piper, Arthur Mizener and Andrew Turnbull, and his fellow student Edmund Wilson. It was through Wilson that the unfinished manuscript of, and the notes for, The Last Tycoon were published in 1941; in 1945, under the title The Crack-Up, he edited a collection of previously unpublished letters, notes and essays. In the same year Dorothy Parker pulled together a body of Fitzgerald's out-of-circulation works—The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night and some of his short stories—and had them issued in The Portable F. Scott Fitzgerald, with a preface by John O'Hara.
The second phase of this renascence opened a few years later. In 1951 four other publications helped draw popular and critical attention to Fitzgerald's works and personality, which had figured the previous year in Budd Schulberg's roman a clef The Disenchanted. These were Arthur Mizener's widely read biography of Fitzgerald; a collection of critical articles edited by Alfred Kazin; a volume of twenty-eight stories (ten of them previously unpublished) put out by Malcolm Cowley; and a new edition, also arranged by Cowley, of Tender Is the Night, which used the author's notes and plans to tighten the book.
Not until 1960, however, were all of Fitzgerald's novels made available in a new hard-cover series issued by Scribner's beginning in 1958, five novels and three volumes of short stories, to which The Pat Hobby Stories, most of them never before published, were added in 1962. Scribner's also published other works, Afternoon of an Author (essays and stories) in 1958 and The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1963. In 1965 the Rutgers University Press brought out The Apprentice Fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald, fifteen stories Fitzgerald wrote in his teens.
The many critical studies that have appeared since 1951 were stimulated by these issues: in the ten years from 1961 to 1971, no fewer than seventeen books and seven collections of articles were devoted to Fitzgerald. In 1967 The Critical Reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a monumental 400-page bibliography compiled with precision and skill by Jackson R. Bryer, appeared at the right moment to inventory this flood of studies and show the breadth and diversity of the reactions aroused by Fitzgerald. Bryer prepared an exhaustive catalog of everything written about Fitzgerald over a period of forty-five years, a total of 2,261 titles, including 1,033 reviews, 644 critical articles, 192 books wholly or partly devoted to his work, 73 theses and unpublished memoirs, to cite only the items written in English up to 1965. The corpus has grown considerably in the past fifteen years; in addition, previously written but unpublished works have appeared since 1965. Fitzgerald's novels have sold in the hundreds of thousands, and a number of motion pictures have been made of his works (three different versions of Gatsby alone). In short, the Fitzgerald industry is thriving.
It is not limited to the United States, either: the same process has developed in France, in similar stages. Gatsby, translated (atrociously)' into French in 1926 and virtually unnoticed at the time, has since then been reissued—in the same translation—by five different publishers. Tender Is the Night appeared in 1951 and The Last Tycoon in 1952, in equally dismal translations. New translations began appearing in 1963, only three of them tolerable; between then and 1967,for example, Gallimard and Laffont issued This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned and four volumes of Fitzgerald's stories. In 1977 Julliard published Eclats du Paradis (Fragments of Paradise), which combined material by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Flappers and Philosophers. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920.
This Side of Paradise. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920.
The Beautiful and Damned. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922.
Six Tales of the Jazz Age. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922.
The Vegetable, or, From President to Postman. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1923.
The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925.
All the Sad Young Men. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926.
Tender Is the Night. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934.
Taps at Reveille. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935.
The Last Tycoon. An Unfinished Novel. Together with The Great Gatsby and Selected Stories. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1941.
The Crack-Up. With other Uncollected Pieces, Note-Books and Unpublished Letters. Edited by Edmund Wilson. New York: New Directions, 1945.
The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. With an introduction by Malcolm Cowley. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951.
Tender Is the Night. With the Author's Final Revisions. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951.
Afternoon of an Author. A Selection of Uncollected Stories and Essays. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Library, 1957.
The Pat Hobby Stories. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962.
The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Edited by Andrew Turnbull. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963.
The Apprentice Fiction of Francis Scott Fitzgerald. 1909-17. Edited by John Kuehl. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1965.
Thoughtbook of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Library, 1965.
Dear Scott/Dear Max: The Fitzgerald-Perkins Correspondence. Edited by John Kuehl and Jackson R. Bryer. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.
F. Scott Fitzgerald in His Own Time: A Miscellany. Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Jackson R. Bryer. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1971.
As Ever, Scott Fitz—. Letters between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary agent, Harold Ober, 1919-40. Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1972.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's Ledger. A facsimile. Introduction by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Washington, D.G: NCR/Microcard Editions, 1972. B
its of Paradise. 21 uncollected stories by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Editedby Matthew J. Bruccoli. Foreword by Scottie Fitzgerald Smith and preface by Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.
The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
The Price Was High. The last uncollected stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979.
Bruccoli, Matthew J. Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.
Koblas, John J. F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota: His Homes and Haunts. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1978.
Mayfield, Sara. Exiles from Paradise. New York: Delacorte Press, 1971.
Milford, Nancy. Zelda. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970.
Mizener, Arthur. The Far Side of Paradise. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1951.
Smith, Scottie Fitzgerald, Matthew J. Bruccoli and Joan P. Kerr, eds. The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974.
Turnbull, Andrew. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962.
Allen, Joan. Candles and Carnival Lights. New York: New York University Press, 1978.
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969.
Bruccoli, Matthew J. Scott and Ernest: The Authority of Failure and the Authority of Success. New York: Random House, 1978.
Callaghan, Morley. That Summer in Paris. New York: Coward-McCann, 1963.
Chamson, Andre. La Petite Odyssee. Paris: Gallimard, 1965.
Cowley, Malcolm and Robert, eds. Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966.
Dos Passos, John. The Best Times. New York: New American Library, 1966.
Goldhurst, William. F. Scott Fitzgerald and His Contemporaries. Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Co., 1963.
Graham, Sheilah. College of One. New York: Viking Press, 1967.
Graham, Sheilah. The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty-five Years Later. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1976.
Graham, Sheilah and Gerold Frank. Beloved Infidel: The Education of a Woman. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1958.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1964. New York: Penguin Books, 1966.
Latham, John Aaron. Crazy Sundays: F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Sklar, Robert. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.
Stein, Gertrude. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. New York: Random House, 1933.
Tomkins, Calvin. Living Well Is the Best Revenge. New York: Viking Press, 1971.
Wilson, Edmund. The Shores of Light. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1952.
Wilson, Edmund. The Twenties, ed. by Leon Edel. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1975.
I am limiting mention here to a few of the most significant and useful works available. Even a selected bibliography of recollections published concerning Fitzgerald would far exceed the possibilities of this list. I would nevertheless like to mention five especially revealing articles:
Thurber, James. “Scott in Thorns,” The Reporter, April 17, 1951.
King, Frances Kroll. “Footnotes on Fitzgerald,” Esquire, December 1959 (by Fitzgerald's secretary in Hollywood).
Schulberg, Budd. “Old Scott: The Mask, the Myth and the Man,” Esquire, January 1961 (on Hollywood and the Dartmouth carnival).
Cowley, Malcolm. “A Ghost Story of the Jazz Age,” The Saturday Review, January 25, 1964 (Fitzgerald at La Paix).
Hearne, Laura Guthrie. “A Summer with F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Esquire, December 1964 (on Fitzgerald's love affair in Asheville in 1935).
Among the works on Fitzgerald's life, I am first of all indebted to the biographies by Mizener (1951) and Turnbull (1962); they have been extremely useful despite certain errors and gaps. Many publications have appeared since then to cast light on hitherto obscure aspects of Fitzgerald's life, especially Nancy Mil-ford's richly documented Zelda, which gave me valuable details on the writer's relationship with his wife. Calvin Tomkins's study of Gerald Murphy enabled me to highlight the important role the Murphys played in the Fitzgeralds' lives in France.
In the twenty years I worked on Fitzgerald, I visited most of the places he lived and interviewed a number of people. Some of the places have changed, some of the houses he lived in have vanished. I was fortunate enough to see Rockville, the Fitzgerald family cradle, before it fell victim to urban development. My first visit in Maryland, in 1960, was to the Fitzgeralds' grave. But when I went to see the Garden of Allah in Hollywood a few months later, I found that it had just been torn down. I narrowly missed seeing La Paix before it disappeared; thanks to a tip from Andrew Turnbull, who had been warned by Baltimore Evening Sun reporter John Sherwood, I managed to visit the house in September 1961, on the eve of its demolition. Two small panels from the study in which Fitzgerald wrote Tender Is the Night thus escaped the wreckers; I can see them in a corner of my office as I write these lines.
From St. Paul to Hollywood via Buffalo, New York, Montgomery, Great Neck, Ellerslie, Baltimore and Asheville, I have seldom failed to find witnesses willing to recount their memories of the Fitzgeralds, even though those memories were often blurred by time or adulterated by recollections of things read. Fitzgerald's personality incites to sensationalism, inflation, extrapolation when the facts seem too routine. So great is the power of the Fitzgerald legend that it is sometimes difficult to separate truth about him from apocrypha.
Luckily, recent works—biographies of, and letters by, his contemporaries—allow for more accurate cross-checking and chronology than was once possible. To cite only one example, Carlos Baker's minutely documented biography of Hemingway makes hash of a fanciful story by Aaron Latham in which Fitzgerald supposedly sheltered Hemingway in his Malibu Beach retreat and supported him while he completed For Whom the Bell Tolls.
I therefore used uncorroborated recollections with the greatest caution, preferring to rely on confirmed sources that are generally considered impartial. Among the people who knew Fitzgerald well and whom I had the privilege of interviewing, I shall list only those whose names appear in this book: Sylvia Beach, Lucie and Andre Chamson, John Dos Passos, Lubow Egorova, Sheilah Graham, Edouard Jozan, Sara Mayfield, Esther Murphy Arthur, Gerald Murphy, Dwight Taylor, Alice Toklas, Andrew Turnbull, Edmund Wilson. I take this opportunity to repeat my gratitude for the help they so generously gave me. I would also like to thank Scottie Fitzgerald Smith for the details she was kind enough to supply about her childhood in Paris. Matthew J. Bruccoli, through his publication of so many of Fitzgerald's unpublished writings, considerably lightened the last stages of my work, when I was constantly having to verify the notes I had taken at Princeton.
In this connection I want particularly to express my gratitude to Alexander Clark and Wanda Randall of the Princeton University Library's Rare Book Department. From my first visit there in 1959, they unfailingly helped me in my research with exemplary kindness and efficiency. Thanks to their unflagging patience, I was able to examine all of the immense Fitzgerald collection, including manuscripts, notebooks, files, press clippings, letters, bills, prescriptions, contracts, even passports whose immigration stamps clarified a number of previously obscure points.
Published in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography by Andre LeVot (French: Paris: Julliard, 1979; English: Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983 - translated by William Byron).