Scott and Zelda stopped in Paris en route to the Riviera in May 1924 and saw his old Princeton friend John Peale Bishop. He had married a wealthy but pretentious, talkative and boring Chicago socialite, and had not been stimulated by expatriate life in France. Archibald MacLeish, who had an affair with Margaret Bishop that year, called her a misplaced clubwoman whose money had emasculated her husband. And Fitzgerald, whose career had taken off while Bishop's remained stagnant, criticized in a letter to Edmund Wilson the dullness and weakness of his former mentor: "Yes, John seemed to us a beaten man-with his tiny frail mustache-but perhaps only morally. Whether or no he still echoes the opinions of others I don't know-to me he said nothing at all. In fact, I remember not a line (I was drunk and voluble myself though)." Fitzgerald continued to see his friend for nostalgic reasons and remarked two years later that Bishop "was here with his unspeakably awful wife. He seems anemic and washed out, a memory of the past so far as I'm concerned." Scott did not help matters on this occasion by getting drunk and writing on Margaret's expensive dress with a lipstick.
After about ten days in Paris, the Fitzgeralds traveled south and pitched up at Grimm's Park Hotel in Hyeres. This staid establishment featured goat meat every evening and was populated by elderly English invalids who treated the brash Americans with icy hostility. Despite his dislike of these people, Fitzgerald hired a bossy English nanny, Lillian Maddock, to live with the family and look after their small daughter. According to Hemingway, Miss Maddock taught Scottie to speak with a Cockney accent.
After searching eastward along the coast for several weeks, they finally found Villa Marie, a clean, cool house set on a hill above Saint-Raphael. "It was a red little town," Scott wrote, "built close to the sea, with gay red-roofed houses and an air of repressed carnival about it."1 The charming villa had a winding gravel driveway, a large terraced garden filled with exotic plants and tiled balconies overlooking the glistening Mediterranean. They bought a small Renault and settled down with their cook, maid and nanny to a more orderly way of life.
The Fitzgeralds seemed to live in France without having any significant contact with the country. The only French people they knew were their servants (who grew rich by constantly cheating them). They met very few French writers and ignored the avant-garde. Uninterested, as Dos Passos had noted, in museums and churches, art and music, good food and wine, and unable to understand an alien culture, the Fitzgeralds inhabited a Europe of hotels and nightclubs, bars and beaches that catered to wealthy Americans.
Despite his French courses at Princeton, Fitzgerald had no knowledge of the language. He never bothered to learn more than taxi-cab French nor made the slightest effort to pronounce it correctly. Even Scottie, who soon mastered the tongue, later remarked on "his really horrendous French" and "his atrocious accent." Fitzgerald gave an accurate and self-mocking example of his franglais when he quoted: " 'Je suis a stranger here,' I said in flawless French. 'Je veux aller to le best hotel dans le town.' "2 If pushed, his eloquent French could rise to: "Tres bien, you son-of-a-bitch!"
The Fitzgeralds' closest friends in Europe, Gerald and Sara Murphy, were, culturally speaking, their exact antithesis. They first met this Jamesian couple in Paris in May 1924 through Gerald's sister, Esther, who was a Great Neck friend. Gerald's father owned the Fifth Avenue leather goods shop, Mark Cross, which was worth two million dollars when Gerald inherited it in 1931. Eight years older than Scott, a dandy in dress and manner, he had graduated from Yale and come to Europe in 1921. But Gerald's looks were somewhat spoiled by premature baldness and rather thick lips. His beautiful wife Sara, five years older than Gerald, was a warm, motherly, solid and sensible woman. The daughter of a wealthy ink manufacturer in Cincinnati, Ohio, she owned twenty-seven substantial acres in East Hampton, Long Island, and had a fortune of two hundred thousand dollars. The Murphys were among the first to discover that the South of France could be pleasant in the summer and to make it fashionable to remain there (instead of traveling north to Deauville or west to Biarritz) during the long hot season. In the summer of 1924 the Murphys were staying in the Hotel du Cap in Antibes while their new house, the Villa America, was being renovated.
The Murphys lived in hedonistic luxury and tended to dissipate their energy in the perfection of trivialities: Gerald's Zen-like ritual of raking the beach and Sara's absorption with objects to furnish their house. As Gerald confessed, "we did nothing notable except enjoy ourselves." But he was also a kind, cultured and exquisitely civilized man, with a serious interest in the arts and a minor talent as a painter. Instead of using his wealth selfishly for himself and his family, he used it generously for his friends and provided lavish hospitality for many of the leading French and American artists of the 1920s. Gerald was a good husband and father, and a loyal friend. When struck by tragedy, he endured it with great courage. To companions like Dos Passos, the elegant couple seemed to be the essence of perfection: "The Murphys were rich. They were goodlooking. They dressed brilliantly. They were canny about the arts. They had a knack for entertaining. They had lovely children."
In contrast to the Princeton bachelors who had swarmed around Zelda in New York, most of the Fitzgeralds' friends on the Riviera were married. Scott and Zelda soon became absorbed into the Murphys' social circle, which included a core of Yale friends: Archibald MacLeish, Cole Porter, the playwrights Philip Barry and Donald Ogden Stewart (whom Fitzgerald had known in St. Paul); expatriate writers like Dos Passos and Hemingway; dancers and designers from the Russian Ballet; and abstract painters like Picasso, Miro and Juan Gris. Scottie remembered the small Braque and Picasso drawings that her parents bought, with the Murphys' encouragement, and carried with them on their travels through Europe.
The Murphys also introduced them to another lively and cultured couple, Dick and Alice Lee Myers. Dick was a large, jolly, humorous man, an amateur musician who had studied piano with Nadia Boulanger and composed songs, a bon viveur who enjoyed the good things of life. Both Dick and Alice Lee had graduated from the University of Chicago. He had been a soldier during the war, she a nurse; and after a nine-year engagement, they had finally married in 1920. Dick worked for American Express in Paris, had a country house in Normandy, lived comfortably on his American salary and stayed on in France until 1932.
Their daughter Fanny (a lifelong friend of Scottie) remembers Scott ringing their doorbell during lunchtime and staggering into their Paris flat while drunk. When Fanny finished eating and went to her bedroom, she was surprised to find Scott in her bed. Alice, sitting next to him, tactfully explained that he was "having a little lie down." When Scott recovered, he told Fanny that she was very pretty and she turned bright red upon receiving her first compliment.
Scott's easy intimacy with the Myerses, allowed free expression of his bizarre sense of humor. In 1928 he annotated a clipping of the murderer Ruth Snyder, strapped into the electric chair, with a touching inscription, ostensibly written by Snyder but actually by Scott. In a similar vein, he gave the Myerses an enlarged edition of Marie Stopes' Contraception (1928), with a witty and flirtatious inscription to Alice Lee: "I felt you should have this. So that Dick should never have an awful surprise-he is too nice a fellow. Yours in Sin, but, I hope, sincere sin. F. Scott Fitzgerald."3
The Fitzgeralds and Murphys had little in common apart from the men's Irish background and love of literature, but they had an abiding affection for each other. In contrast to the spontaneous and chaotic Fitzgeralds, the Murphys (who appear as the Cornings in Zelda's unpublished novel Caesar's Things) carefully planned every detail of their life and turned every event into a theatrical occasion: "All of the Cornings' parties have the air of having been rehearsed… He perfects 'his garden, his gadgets, his graces, his retainers, his dependents, his children.' "
Scott was genuinely interested in the Murphys' three children and named the child in "Babylon Revisited" after their daughter Honoria, who was three years older than Scottie. Noticing Honoria's favorite red dress and favorite red flowers in her mother's garden, and curious about her tastes, Scott sweetly asked her: "Why do you like red?" He was full of imagination at Scottie's birthday party, for which Zelda made elaborate papier-mache costumes and Scott-down on the floor and playing with the children-conducted a complicated war with armies of toy soldiers and used a large real beetle to play the part of an evil dragon.4
Both Murphys were attracted to Zelda, who shared their passion for swimming and sunbathing, and who would pronounce "Say-reh" to make it sound like her own maiden name. Impressed by Zelda's intensity and gracefulness, Gerald said "she had a rather powerful, hawk-like expression, very beautiful features, not classic, and extremely penetrating eyes, and a very beautiful figure, and she moved beautifully." Like most other friends, he was struck by Zelda's defiant behavior. At the Casino in Juan-les-Pins the exhibitionistic Zelda, who had exposed her bottom during the Hawaiian pageant in Montgomery, suddenly got up from their table, lifted her skirt above her waist and danced like Salome before a startled audience.
Sara noticed that Zelda, who became upset if Scott was criticized, loyally came to his defense and backed him up in everything. She still quarreled with Scott. But, in contrast to their violent early rows (which were recorded in Alex McKaig's diary), they now closed ranks and no longer fought in public. Philip Barry's wife, Ellen, thought they managed to conceal their marriage problems, but competed openly to attract their friends' attention. Scott would slip into the pantry to throw down a secret gin, then reappear to exclaim, "you all like Zelda better than me" and express self-pity by rolling in the dust of the garden. Ellen found Scott rather pathetic and desperately in need of reassurance.
Gerald, at times exasperated with Fitzgerald, frankly declared: "I don't think we could have taken Scott alone." Scott's childish insecurity and desire to be the center of interest led him, during the 1920s, to abuse the kindness and test the friendship of the Murphys just as he had done with his fellow officers in the army. But Gerald, amazingly tolerant of Scott's drunken antics and deeply concerned about him, was more worried than angry about his behavior. Once, when they were leaving the dance floor at the Casino, Scott deliberately fell down and expected Gerald to pick him up. But Gerald, adopting the role of a strict father with a naughty child, told him: "We're not at Princeton, I'm not your roommate, get up yourself." On another occasion, irritated by the formality of the Murphys' dinner party, Scott provocatively threw a soft fig at the bare back of a titled guest and became furious when she and everyone else ignored his boorish behavior.
Scott's worst offense, which stretched Gerald's tolerance to the breaking point, led to temporary banishment from the Villa America. It seemed to justify Gerald's angry statement that "he really had the most appalling sense of humor, sophomoric and-well, trashy." Feeling that his fellow guests were not paying sufficient attention to him, Scott seemed determined to destroy the formal dinner party. He "began throwing Sara's gold-flecked Venetian wineglasses over the garden wall. He had smashed three of them this way before Gerald stopped him. As the party was breaking up, Gerald went up to Scott (among the last to leave) and told him that he would not be welcome in their house for three weeks."5 While exiled from their parties, Scott made his presence felt by throwing a can of garbage onto the patio as the Murphys were dining.
Scott had another extremely irritating habit, which led the gentle Sara to censure him. To compensate for his lack of insight and satisfy his curiosity, he would grill friends-even when sober-with tedious and often embarrassing personal questions. Both Donald Stewart and Dos Passos had objected to this habit, which Zelda described as "nagging and asking and third-degreeing his acquaintances." Sara, in a frank, exasperated yet sympathetic and well-intentioned letter, also criticized his naive interrogation, and used the same word as Gerald to describe his intolerable behavior: "You can't expect anyone to like or stand a Continual feeling of analysis & sub-analysis, & criticism-on the whole unfriendly-such as we have felt for quite a while. It is definitely in the air,-& quite unpleasant.-It certainly detracts from any gathering… We Cannot-Gerald & I-at our age-& stage in life-be bothered with Sophomoric situations-like last night."
Sara later connected the selfishness and insensitivity in Scott's character to a defect in his work, and bluntly told him: "consideration for other people's feelings, opinions or even time is Completely left out of your makeup.-I have always told you you haven't the faintest idea what anybody else but yourself is like… Why,-for instance should you trample on other people's feelings continually with things you permit yourself to say & do-owing partly to the self-indulgence of drinking too much." Confronted with this harsh truth, Scott was forced to agree that he only knew himself: "My characters are all Scott Fitzgerald."6
Scott severely tested the Murphys' patience. He had to prove to himself, again and again, that they would, no matter how badly he behaved, always forgive him and love him. As Gerald, moved by Scott's charming and good-natured apologies, generously wrote in 1928: "we are very fond of you both. The fact that we don't get on always has nothing to do with it." Scott, who valued Gerald's forgiveness and treasured his friendship, later praised his social charm and paid tribute to him along with his intellectual, moral and artistic mentors, Edmund Wilson, Sap Donahoe and Ernest Hemingway: "a fourth man had come to dictate my relations with other people when these relations were successful: how to do, what to say. How to make people at least momentarily happy." In a simple, honest and moving statement, Scott told Gerald, "as a friend you have never failed me."7
In the 1920s, however, offended by the heavy drinking and bad manners that spoiled many of their fetes, the Murphys did not recognize either Scott's genius or his problems with Zelda. "The one we took seriously was Ernest, not Scott," Gerald said. "I suppose it was because Ernest's work seemed contemporary and new, and Scott's didn't." Yet Scott's work, not Ernest's, influenced Gerald. Gerald loved giant eyes and in the late 1920s absorbed a central symbol of The Great Gatsby, the gigantic eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, into his own life and art. Gerald "designed a flag for his custom-made schooner, Weatherbird, with a schematic eye that appeared to blink as it flapped in the wind, and in 1928 he included a large human eye in his painting, Portrait."8
Minimizing the marriage problems he had portrayed in The Beautiful and Damned and ignoring the exemplary harmony of the Murphys, Fitzgerald told Bishop, with an odd mixture of candor and concealment: "Zelda and I sometimes indulge in terrible four-day rows that always start with a drinking party but we're still enormously in love and about the only truly happily married people I know." In the summer of 1924, when Scott was absorbed in The Great Gatsby and Zelda was bored and restless, they experienced the severest crisis of their crisis-filled marriage and forced the Murphys to witness the agonizing aftermath of Zelda's infidelity.
In June 1924, on the beach at Saint-Raphael, Zelda met a handsome French naval aviator, Edouard Jozan. The son of a middle-class family in Nimes with a long military tradition, he was a year and two days older than her. The antithesis of Fitzgerald, Jozan was a dark, romantic man with curly black hair and a Latin profile. He wore a smart uniform (as Scott had done when he first courted her), was muscular and athletic, and led the small group of officers who surrounded Zelda. He regretted having missed the war, longed to smoke opium in Indochina and wrote a few things for his own pleasure.
Attracted at first to both Scott and Zelda, Jozan found them "brimming over with life. Rich and free, they brought into our little provincial circle brilliance, imagination and familiarity with a Parisian and international world to which we had no access." But he soon focused his attention on the vibrant Zelda, "a creature who overflowed with activity, [and was] radiant with desire to take from life every chance her charm, youth and intelligence provided so abundantly."
With no friends in Saint-Raphael, Scott was eager as always for a bit of social life. Behaving like a man of the world, he invited Jozan to dine with them and met him at cafes in the evenings. Scott was excited and flattered when men fell in love with his wife-as long as she did not reciprocate their feelings. Left alone, with nothing to amuse her, Zelda went to the beach with Jozan while Scott stayed at home and worked on his novel.
After five years of marriage and the experience of motherhood, Zelda feared she had passed the peak of her beauty and had to prove that she was still attractive to men. She felt her life was empty, resented Scott's successful career, wanted to make him jealous and, as Save Me the Waltz makes clear (Scott considered the novel proof of her adultery), was overwhelmed by the courageous Frenchman. Like the American pilots in wartime Montgomery, Jozan made daredevil flights over her luxurious villa.
Zelda took the chance that life-or Jozan-provided. A masochistic and sensual passage in her novel describes how "he drew her body against him till she felt the blades of his bones carving her own. He was bronze and smelled of the sand and sun; she felt him naked underneath the starched linen." In her unpublished novel, Caesar's Things, Zelda explains that the heroine is drawn to the Frenchman not only because he is attractive but also because she is afraid of love, and must confront and overcome her fear. "She told her husband she loved the French officer and her husband locked her up in the villa"9-just as the anxious Scott, during their turbulent courtship, kept repeating (to Zelda's annoyance) that he now understood why they always locked up princesses in towers.
Scott had good reason to fear Zelda's infidelity-both before and after he married her. Writing of his superior sexual rivals in "The Crack-Up," he confessed that he could not "stop thinking that at one time a sort of droit de seigneur might have been exercised to give one of them my girl." Jozan, using his French charm and aeronautic daring, exercised this right. He invited Zelda to his apartment and seduced her. "There was Jozan," she later admitted, "and you were justifiably angry." The crisis peaked on July 13 when Zelda told Scott that she loved Jozan and asked for a divorce.
But Jozan-just beginning his career and without any money-wanted a mistress, not a wife. Though he found Zelda a delightful lover, she did not touch his deepest feelings and meant no more to him than a brief fling on the beach. His transfer to Hyeres (where the Fitzgeralds had begun the summer) put an end to their relations. But Zelda, more emotionally involved than Jozan, was deeply hurt by his rejection. When Jozan abandoned her, she tried to kill herself with an overdose of sleeping pills. Honoria Murphy remembers a disturbance one night at the Hotel du Cap. Scott sought help from her parents, and Zelda had to be walked up and down in the hallway and kept awake until the effect of the pills wore off. "That September 1924," Scott wrote, "I knew something had happened that could never be repaired."10 He now realized that he would have to test himself against Zelda's lover, that she was not absolutely committed to him (as he was to her) and that he could no longer trust his wife to be faithful. The purity of their marriage had been tainted, their innocence lost.
Jozan went on to have a distinguished naval career. He became a vice admiral, commanded France's Far Eastern fleet and was decorated with the Legion of Honor. If Zelda had left him for Jozan in 1924, Scott would have had another lost love to inspire his work and been spared the horrors of her insanity in the 1930s.
Zelda's affair with Jozan had spoiled the Riviera for Scott. Their expenses, even in the off-season, were much higher than expected and they had not been able to save any money. As soon as he finished his novel, they had to find a place to heal the wounds of their marriage and attempt to restore their old intimacy. Though they had disliked Italy on their previous trip to Europe, Zelda's reading of James' Roderick Hudson inspired them to spend the winter in Rome. But the cold weather and rampant dishonesty made Italy an even greater disappointment than France, where servants had drained their resources and driven them out of the Villa Marie. "What at first seemed a secluded villa just right for us to live in quietly," Zelda said, with amused exasperation, "had a habit of developing into a sort of charity institution, owing to the mysterious complaints by which the domestic personnel was stricken down, necessitating the presence of their relations, sometimes down to the third and fourth generations."
Instead of renting a villa in Italy, they moved into an expensive but uncomfortable thin-walled hotel on the Piazza di Spagna. They ate simple meals and-as Scott revised the novel he had completed in France-gradually found their way to the romantic sights of the city:
In the Hotel des Princes at Rome [Zelda wrote] we lived on Bel Paese cheese and [Sicilian] Corvo wine and made friends with a delicate spinster who intended to stop there until she finished a three-volume history of the Borgias. The sheets were damp and the nights were perforated by the snores of the people next door, but we didn't mind because we could always come home down the stairs to the Via Sistina, and there were jonquils and beggars along that way. We were too superior at that time to use the guide books and wanted to discover the ruins for ourselves, which we did when we had exhausted the night-life and the market places and the campagna. We liked the Castel Sant'Angelo because of its round mysterious unity and the river and the debris about its base. It was exciting being lost between centuries in the Roman dusk and taking your sense of direction from the Colosseum.
Their principal distraction in Rome was watching the filming of the spectacular, expensive and accident-prone Ben-Hur, and forming a friendship with one of its stars, Carmel Myers. The bright and attractive actress, who was the same age as Scott, was the daughter of a San Francisco rabbi. She began her film career in 1916 as the protegee of D. W. Griffith; starred as a vamp with Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore and John Gilbert; and would retire, shortly after talkies began, in the early 1930s. Scott, who would meet Carmel again when he first went to Hollywood in 1927, told a friend that "she is the most exquisite thing I have met yet, and is just as nice as she is beautiful."11
Fitzgerald's humorous but bitter account of his winter in Rome during 1924-25, "The High Cost of Macaroni," is-like D. H. Lawrence's Aaron's Rod (1922), Hemingway's "Che Ti Dice La Patria?" (1927) and Thomas Mann's "Mario and the Magician" (1929)-a disillusioned and dispirited response to oppressive life in Fascist Italy. The conclusion of this essay describes a humiliating reprise to his black eye at Princeton in 1920 and his savage beating at the Jungle Club the following year. Fitzgerald's petty midnight quarrel with some extortionate taxi drivers about the fare back to their hotel ended, when he refused to be cheated, in a brutal street fight:
First there was one taxi driver, and I had a little the best of it; then there were two and I was having a little the worst of it. But I didn't think I was, and when the meddlesome stranger stepped between us I was in no mood to have it stop there, and I pushed him impatiently out of the way. He came back persistently, lurching in between us, talking in a stream of Italian, doing his best, it seemed to me, to interrupt my offensives-and to the advantage of the taximan. Once too often he caught at my arm. Blind with anger I turned on him quickly and (with more success than I had so far had with the others) caught him under the point of the chin; whereupon, rather to my surprise, he sat down.
The unfortunate interloper turned out to be a plainclothes policeman. Fitzgerald was arrested for assaulting an officer, taken to a police station and savagely beaten.
Fitzgerald called this degrading experience "just about the rottenest thing that ever happened to me in my life." It aroused his hostility, provoked his prejudices and inspired his violent fantasies about the country, the politics and the people. "I hate Italians," he told Carmel Myers. "They live in tenements and don't have bathtubs!" When Harold Ober asked him to write a piece about his travels for the Post, he rather childishly replied that he could not write anything acceptable to that audience unless they wanted an article on "Pope Syphilis the Sixth and his Morons." He imagined filling a theater with the flower of Italy, coming on stage with a machine gun and murdering the entire audience. He thought Italy was trying to live on its glorious past and saw through the histrionic absurdities of Fascism. "Italy depressed us both beyond measure," he wrote to an editor at Scribner's, "a dead land where everything that could be done or said was done long ago (for whoever is deceived by the pseudo activity under Mussolini is deceived by the spasmodic last jerk of a corpse)."12
The unexpected cold, Zelda's painful ovarian infection and Scott's brutal encounter with the police drove them out of Rome. In February 1925 they crossed the Bay of Naples and settled in the fashionable Hotel Tiberio on Capri. Fitzgerald's hero Joseph Conrad, who had visited the highly praised island in 1905, said the air was too stimulating for consumptives and complained of hot winds, violent contrasts and sexual scandals: "Too much ozone they say: too exciting and that's why no lung patients are allowed to come here… This place here, this climate, this sirocco, this transmontana, these flat roofs, these sheer rocks, this blue sea-are impossible… The scandals of Capri-atrocious, unspeakable, amusing, scandals international, cosmopolitan and biblical." In February 1920 D. H. Lawrence, more succinctly, condemned Capri as "a stewpot of semi-literary cats." Fitzgerald, repelled by the thriving colony of English homosexuals-including Norman Douglas, Somerset Maugham and E. F. Benson-agreed that "this place is full of fairies."
Fitzgerald was also disappointed by his former literary hero, Compton Mackenzie, whose Sinister Street had influenced This Side of Paradise. He sat up half the night talking to the good-looking and extremely successful Scottish novelist, who wore striking clothes and owned two luxurious villas on the island. Though Mackenzie would go on to write his finest work, he now seemed exhausted as an author. "I found him cordial, attractive and pleasantly mundane," Scott told Bishop. "You get no sense from him that he feels his work has gone to pieces. He's not pompous about his present output. I think he's just tired. The war [in which Mackenzie had had a distinguished career in the Secret Service] wrecked him as it did Wells and many of that generation."13
In late October 1924, just before he left Saint-Raphael for Rome, Fitzgerald had sent Perkins the typescript of The Great Gatsby, which he continued to revise throughout his stay in Italy. Three weeks later Perkins, recognizing its greatness, enthusiastically praised its themes, narrative technique, symbolism, characters, drama, style and art:
I think you have every kind of right to be proud of this book. It is an extraordinary book, suggestive of all sorts of thoughts and moods. You adopted exactly the right method of telling it, that of employing a narrator who is more of a spectator than an actor: that puts the reader upon a point of observation on a higher level than that on which the characters stand and at a distance that gives perspective. In no other way could your irony have been so immensely effective, nor the reader have been enabled so strongly to feel at times the strangeness of human circumstance in a vast heedless universe. In the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg various readers will see different significances; but their presence gives a superb touch to the whole thing: great unblinking eyes, expressionless, looking down upon the human scene. It's magnificent! …
The presentation of Tom, his place, Daisy and Jordan, and the unfolding of their characters is unequalled so far as I know. The description of the valley of ashes adjacent to the lovely country, the conversation and the action in Myrtle's apartment, the marvelous catalogue of those who came to Gatsby's house,-these are such things as make a man famous. And all these things, the whole pathetic episode, you have given a place in time and space, for with the help of T. J. Eckleburg and by an occasional glance at the sky, or the sea, or the city, you have imparted a sort of sense of eternity. You once told me you were not a natural writer-my God! You have plainly mastered the craft, of course; but you needed far more than craftsmanship for this.14
Ring Lardner, aware of the carelessness of both Fitzgerald and Perkins, and eager to repay Scott for his generous help with How to Write Short Stories, volunteered to read the proofs. His experienced eye caught a number of minor errors about the levels in Penn Station, the elevated train in Queens, the "tides" in Lake Superior and the railroads that ran out of the La Salle Street station in Chicago.
The Great Gatsby, as both Perkins and Lardner perceived, is Fitzgerald's most perfectly realized work of art. The novel reveals a new and confident mastery of his material, a fascinating if sensational plot, a Keatsian ability to evoke a romantic atmosphere, a set of memorable and deeply interesting characters, a witty and incisive social satire, a surprisingly effective use of allusions, an ambitious theme and a silken style that seems as fresh today as it did seventy years ago.
In 1925-the year Dreiser published An American Tragedy, Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer and Hemingway In Our Time-Fitzgerald made an impressive leap from his deeply flawed early novels to his first masterpiece. Unlike his previous novels, The Great Gatsby is imaginative rather than autobiographical, unified rather than episodic. In place of the loosely constructed story of a young man's life, influenced by Compton Mackenzie and H. G. Wells, Fitzgerald set out to capture a social scene and satirize a social class in the manner of Henry James and Edith Wharton. As John Dos Passos noted, in the three years since his early success Fitzgerald had thought seriously about his art. His careful study of the works of Joseph Conrad-who died in August 1924 while Fitzgerald was writing his novel-was mainly responsible for his astonishing technical and intellectual advance.
In June 1925 Fitzgerald told H. L. Mencken that he had "learned a lot" from Conrad and had consciously imitated him in The Great Gatsby. Conrad's influence can be seen in Fitzgerald's evocative symbolism (the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, the desolate wasteland of the Valley of Ashes, the God-like judgment of the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg), in his resonant style, revelation of the story by moving forward and backward in time, themes of romantic illusion and corrupted idealism. Fitzgerald's confidential narrator Nick Carraway, like Conrad's Charlie Marlow in Heart of Darkness (1899) and Lord Jim (1900), provides distance and credibility by retrospectively telling a story that he, a character in the novel, has personally observed. He combines disapproval of and sympathy for Gatsby just as Marlow does for Lord Jim.
Gatsby's attempt to reinvent himself, move into the upper class and win Daisy from Tom is heroic but doomed. But Gatsby's effort is also treated satirically because he is (or has been) a liar and a crook. Yet his lies are sad because they are all meant for Daisy, who is really "hollow at the core" and unworthy of his sacrificial quest. And Gatsby becomes as disillusioned with Daisy as Marlow does with the hollow Kurtz. In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald still uses fiction to tell his own story-reflecting on the superior and brutal qualities of the rich and on the impossibility of becoming one of them-but it is now truly invented fiction, not something carelessly cobbled together from diaries and letters and clever remarks.
Fitzgerald takes his themes as well as his narrator from Conrad and alludes to his master at three crucial points in the novel. In Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" (1910), the young captain wonders "how far I should turn out faithful to that ideal conception of one's own personality." Carraway also considers this important question and explains the hero's transformation from the poor, provincial James Gatz into the buoyantly successful Jay Gatsby by observing that he "sprang from his Platonic [that is, his ideal and self-created] conception of himself" and "invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception [of his personality] he was faithful to the end."15
Lord Jim, which Fitzgerald called "a great book," concerns the tragic loss of self-esteem and, Conrad writes, "those struggles of an individual trying to save from the fire his idea of what his moral identity should be." Jim's mentor Stein anticipates Gatsby's idealistic trajectory by urging Jim "To follow the dream, and again to follow the dream." And when Carraway warns Gatsby: "You can't repeat the past," Gatsby naively cries: "Can't repeat the past? … Why of course you can!" Like Jim, Jay is crippled by a past he cannot escape; and Nick gathers that, like Jim, "he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself."
Fitzgerald also learned from Conrad to use a more subtle and suggestive conclusion to his fiction. As he remarked to Bishop: "It was Ernest Hemingway who developed to me, in conversation, that the dying fall was preferable to the dramatic ending under certain conditions, and I think we both got the germ of the idea from Conrad." Fitzgerald also told Hemingway that Conrad's Preface to The Nigger of the "Narcissus" (1897), which he had reread while writing The Great Gatsby, had taught him that fiction must "appeal to the lingering after-effects in the reader's mind."16
Conrad had concluded his African novella Heart of Darkness by connecting the Thames to the primitive past of mankind, symbolized by the Congo: "The tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky-seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness." Adopting the psychological suggestiveness of the riverine metaphor and alluding to Gatsby's hopeless attempt to repeat the past, Fitzgerald imitated Conrad's "appeal to the lingering after-effects" in his own concluding sentence: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
After The Great Gatsby had been published in April 1925, Fitzgerald acknowledged two major flaws in the novel. He admitted that he himself did not know what Gatsby looked like or what criminal activities he was engaged in, and told Bishop that the composite origins of his hero made Gatsby blurred and patchy: "I never at any one time saw him clear myself-for he started as one man I knew and then changed into myself-the amalgam was never complete in my mind." Another radical fault in the book, he confided to Mencken, was "the lack of an emotional presentment of Daisy's attitude toward Gatsby after their reunion (and the consequent lack of logic or importance in her throwing him over)."17 Fitzgerald had always been aware of these faults and had disguised them with consummate skill. The elusive ambiguity of Gatsby actually enhances his mysterious character. At the beginning of the novel he vanishes as suddenly as he had appeared, leaving Nick "alone again in the unquiet darkness"-as Kurtz had left Marlow alone in the moral darkness of the Congo.
Gatsby's vague connection with Oxford, which Fitzgerald had visited twice in 1921, is an important part of his ambiguous persona. But it is based on rumor, lies, misleading evidence, dubious endorsement, intense scepticism and, finally, on his own rather unsatisfactory explanation. Daisy's friend Jordan Baker tells Nick that Gatsby once told her he was an Oxford man. Gatsby, who comes from humble origins, tells Nick, with wild exaggeration: "I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition." And he actually produces a souvenir photograph, taken in Trinity Quad with the Earl of Doncaster, to prove his assertion. The gambler Meyer Wolfsheim dubiously calls Gatsby "an Oggsford man," but Tom Buchanan, who is incredulous, contemptuously associates the man who wears pink suits with "Oxford, New Mexico." When Tom questions Gatsby directly in order to discredit him in front of Daisy, Gatsby (contradicting his earlier statement to Nick) uneasily explains: "It was in nineteen nineteen. I only stayed five months. That's why I can't really call myself an Oxford man… It was an opportunity they gave to some of the officers after the Armistice… We could go to any of the universities in England or France." Later on, we learn that Daisy's letter, announcing her marriage to Tom and inspiring Gatsby's impossible dream to win her back, reached him while he was at Oxford. Gatsby's claim to Oxford, commented on by all the major characters in the novel, emphasizes his obsessive need to change as well as to repeat the past.
Gatsby's shadowy character is placed against a realistic background and setting. The Great Gatsby captures, better than any other novel about the 1920s, not only the lavish house parties on Long Island but also what one historian has called "the bootleggers and the speakeasies, the corruption of police and judiciary, the highjackers and their machine guns, the gang wars, the multimillionaire booze barons, the murders and assassinations, the national breakdown of morals and manners."18 The corruption in the novel is exemplified by Meyer Wolfsheim, who is based on the notorious New York gambler Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein was closely involved with Edward Fuller (Fitzgerald's neighbor in Great Neck) who, with his brokerage partner William McGee, declared bankruptcy and left their firm with a debt of six million dollars. They were convicted and jailed, after four sensational trials during 1922-23, for fraudulently gambling away their clients' money. Rothstein-who was also behind the Black Sox scandal, when gamblers bribed the Chicago White Sox to lose the World Series in 1919-was killed by anonymous gunmen in 1928.
In the novel Meyer Wolfsheim is both physically and morally repulsive. He has a strong Jewish accent, and offers Carraway a dishonest and dangerous business "gonnegtion." He recounts the brutal murder of another gangster and shows off his barbaric cuff links, made of "the finest specimens of human molars." Like his name, these teeth-an allusion to the human skulls on Kurtz's fence posts in Heart of Darkness-suggest his rapacious, even cannibalistic traits. When Wolfsheim leaves, Gatsby explains that the gambler had fixed the World Series. Nick, alluding to the maiden name of Daisy Fay and evoking the pervasive theme of bitter disillusionment, thinks: "It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people-with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe." After Gatsby has been murdered by Wilson, Nick goes into New York to tell Wolfsheim that the funeral of his friend will take place that day. But Wolfsheim refuses to attend the ceremony and confirms the worst rumors about Gatsby's character and background, and the source of his wealth, by claiming that he had "made" Gatsby: "I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter."
Other real-life models also contributed to the characters in the novel. Daisy Fay has the surname of the Catholic priest, Sigourney Webster Fay. She is based partly on the Chicago debutante Ginevra King and partly on Zelda. While writing The Great Gatsby Scott learned of her affair with Jozan, just as Tom learns of Daisy's love for and affair with Gatsby. Tom reclaims Daisy from Gatsby just as Scott reclaimed Zelda from Jozan. Nick's girlfriend Jordan Baker (whose aunt, Mrs. Sigourney Howard, recalls the first name of Father Fay) was modeled on a close school friend of Ginevra, Edith Cummings, who once won the women's national golf championship. And (as we have seen) Tommy Hitchcock was the model for Tom Buchanan.
Great Neck, where Fitzgerald lived during 1922-24, inspired the setting of the novel. Andrew Turnbull notes that while he was living there Fitzgerald's "magic word was 'egg.' People he liked were 'good eggs,' or 'colossal eggs,' and people he didn't like were 'bad eggs' or 'unspeakable eggs.' "19 Edmund Wilson was "an incomparable egg." Fitzgerald's favorite slang expressions were transmuted in the novel into the more affluent East Egg (based on Manhasset) where Tom and Daisy live, and the generally more modest West Egg (based on Great Neck) where Nick lives in a cottage on Gatsby's estate. Even today, if you stand at night on King's Point on the tip of Great Neck peninsula, and look across Manhasset Bay, you can still see-as Gatsby did-the promising lights winking on the opposite shore.
Fitzgerald's Ledger and Notebooks reveal that he was a habitual maker of lists, and the catalogue of the names of people who came to Gatsby's West Egg mansion in the summer of 1922, which opens Chapter IV and is one of the wittiest sections of the novel, is the greatest list he ever made. Many of the bizarre names suggest animals, incongruously yoke the exotic and the banal, and indicate the kind of corrupt people who were attracted to Gatsby's parties. At least four of the guests have disastrous experiences: Webster Civet (yet another allusion to Father Fay) is drowned, Ripley Snell goes to the penitentiary, Henry L. Palmetto kills himself and young Brewer has had his nose shot off in the war.
The strange, suggestive names of the guests-whom Tom rightly calls "crazy fish" in Gatsby's "menagerie"-were influenced by two of the most important writers of the century. T. S. Eliot, whom Fitzgerald described as "the greatest living poet in any language," gave the characters in "Gerontion" (1920) equally peculiar names: Mr. Silvero, "Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians; / Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room / Shifting the candles; Fraulein von Kulp / Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door." And James Joyce assembled a comically named diplomatic corps to witness the execution scene in the "Cyclops" chapter of Ulysses (1922). Fitzgerald lifted the most obscene name in his own novel-Vladimir Tostoff-from Joyce's double pun on the name of a character in an imaginary play by Buck Mulligan. This unregenerate masturbator, who habitually "tossed off" and destroyed his own sexual organ, was named "Toby Tostoff (a ruined Pole)."
The scene in which Gatsby shows Daisy his house (on one of the rare occasions when it is not filled with intrusive guests), and in which his nearly but never-to-be realized dream reaches "an inconceivable pitch of intensity," is perhaps the greatest in the novel. Gatsby displays his luxurious pile of shirts, reveals his intense materialism and offers his things as well as his love. Daisy, frequently characterized (and made unreal) as a disembodied voice, "full of money," begins to sob as she realizes that his entire ostentatious life has been created solely to impress her. But even on that exalted afternoon, Nick explains, expressing one of the major themes of the novel in a resonant Conradian phrase, Daisy inevitably "tumbled short of his dreams-not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion."20 No reality can ever match Gatsby's elaborate fantasy.
But winning Daisy's love is not enough for Gatsby. He must also change and remake reality by eliminating her past love for and sexual relations with Tom, and by transforming Daisy into the innocent girl she was when he first met and took her. In an agonizing, inquisitorial scene, Gatsby arrogantly tells Tom: "Your wife doesn't love you… In her heart she has never loved anyone except me!" But Tom, with surprising tenderness, persuades Daisy to deny Gatsby's solipsistic reconstruction of their emotional history: " 'Oh, you want too much!' she cried to Gatsby. 'I love you now-isn't that enough? I can't help what's past.' She began to sob helplessly. 'I did love him once-but I loved you too.' " Daisy may even have stayed with Tom because she knew that Gatsby would demand the impossible from her. Gatsby's romantic illusions are shattered by Tom, who possesses the much-desired Daisy (better perhaps as an ideal than as a real wife) but is unfaithful to her with the vulgar Myrtle Wilson. And the self-made, worldly, criminally connected but idealistic Gatsby is easily unmasked, betrayed and destroyed by the brutal playboy, who calls him "a common swindler who'd have to steal the ring he put on her finger."
The climax of the novel is as ambiguous as Gatsby's character. Daisy-who went into New York in Tom's car but is driving Gatsby's car on the way back to Long Island-kills Tom's mistress and flees the scene of the accident. Tom tells Wilson, Myrtle's husband, what he subjectively calls the "truth": that Gatsby "ran over Myrtle like you'd run over a dog and never even stopped his car." And Wilson (whose dream is an ironic reflection of Gatsby's and who wants to buy a car like the one that killed his wife) mindlessly murders Gatsby before killing himself.
Nick sharply observes that Tom's statement "wasn't true." Fitzgerald is deliberately unclear about whether Daisy lied to Tom and told him Gatsby was driving or whether Tom knew Daisy was driving and tried to protect her by blaming Gatsby. In any case, Gatsby saves Daisy from scandal, is rejected by her and is killed for her crime. The Buchanans are both murderers. As Nick observes: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money."21
The Great Gatsby transcends Fitzgerald's personal life and brilliantly expresses some of the dominant themes in American literature: the idealism and morality of the West (where most of the characters originate and where Nick returns at the end of the novel) in contrast to the complexity and corruption of the East (where the novel takes place); the frontier myth of the independent self-made man; the attempt to escape the materialistic present and recapture the innocent past; the predatory power of rich and beautiful women; the limited possibilities of love in the modern world; the heightened sensitivity to the promises of life; the doomed attempt to sustain illusions and recapture the American dream.
Fitzgerald sent The Great Gatsby to a number of eminent literary friends, and had the benefit of both a private and public response. On April 11, 1925, the day after the novel was published, Edmund Wilson wrote Fitzgerald, who was then on Capri, with his usual qualifications: "It is undoubtedly in some ways the best thing you have done-the best planned, the best sustained, the best written." Four years later, in a crucial letter to the novelist Hamilton Basso, Wilson, with uncommon modesty, unfavorably contrasted his own recently published novel, I Thought of Daisy (their fictional heroines had the same name), to Fitzgerald's best work of fiction. For the first time, but privately, he acknowledged Fitzgerald's superiority, and placed his achievement on a national rather than on a merely personal level: "[I've been] thinking with depression how much better Scott Fitzgerald's prose and dramatic sense were than mine. If only I'd been able to give my book the vividness and excitement, the technical accuracy, of his! Have you ever read Gatsby? I think it's one of the best novels that any American of his age has done."
Five days later Mencken agreed with Perkins' judgment about the fine craftsmanship, but found the plot insubstantial: "The Great Gatsby fills me with pleasant sentiments. I think it is incomparably the best piece of work you have done. Evidences of careful workmanship are on every page. The thing is well managed, and has a fine surface. My one complaint is that the basic story is somewhat trivial-that it reduces itself, in the end, to a sort of anecdote. But God will forgive you for that."
The following month Gertrude Stein, who had by then met Fitzgerald in Paris, offered, in her characteristically precious mode, generous praise of his extraordinary sensitivity and style: "Here we are and have read your book and it is a good book. I like the melody of your dedication ['Once Again, To Zelda'] and it shows that you have a background of beauty and tenderness and that is a comfort. The next good thing is that you write naturally in sentences and that too is a comfort. You write naturally in sentences and one can read all of them and that among other things is a comfort. You are creating the contemporary world much as Thackeray did his in Pendennis and Vanity Fair and this isn't a bad compliment."22
In June, Edith Wharton, a Scribner's author whom Fitzgerald greatly admired, agreed with her colleagues that he had made a notable advance on his previous work. But, like Mencken, she had a serious reservation about the incomplete characterization of Gatsby: "My present quarrel with you is only this: that to make Gatsby really Great, you ought to have given us his early career (not from the cradle-but from his first visit to the yacht, if not before) instead of a short resume of it. That would have situated him & made his final tragedy a tragedy instead of a 'fait divers' [news item] for the morning papers."
Hemingway, who rarely praised his contemporaries, called it "an absolutely first rate book." And T. S. Eliot, whose Waste Land had influenced the desolate Valley of Ashes, provided the finest tribute in the chorus of praise: "it has interested and excited me more than any new novel I have seen, either English or American, for a number of years… It seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James."23
All the finest authors and critics of the time had admired The Great Gatsby, believed that Fitzgerald had fulfilled his artistic potential and agreed that he had finally produced a great novel. But the sale of about 25,000 copies (far less than his first two novels) did not match his expectations and barely paid off his advance. The dramatic adaptation of the novel by Owen Davis opened in New York in February 1926, ran for 112 performances and earned an unexpected $18,000. It also led to the sale of the film rights for another $17,000. But after The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald, who found it difficult to live on $36,000 a year, realized that he could no longer count on his novels to pay his considerable expenses. Two weeks after the book was published, he admitted to Perkins that he was trapped by his own extravagance. He mentioned the old conflict between art and money, and said he might have to sacrifice his career and sell out to the movies: "If [Gatsby] will support me with no more intervals of trash I'll go on as a novelist. If not, I'm going to quit, come home [from Europe], go to Hollywood and learn the movie business. I can't reduce our scale of living and I can't stand this financial insecurity."
When The Great Gatsby failed to bring in what he thought he needed, he was once again forced to return to lucrative stories until he had banked enough money to devote himself to his novels. In April 1925, the month his novel was published, he reviewed the work he had done since completing his book the previous October, regretted his wasted talent and disgustedly told Bishop, as if self-condemnation would justify his sell-out: "I now get $2,000 a story and they grow worse and worse and my ambition is to get where I need write no more but only novels… I've done about 10 pieces of horrible junk in the last year that I can never republish or bear to look at-cheap and without the spontaneity of my first work." Since his fees for stories sold to the Post seemed to rise in inverse proportion to their merit, he now became embarrassed about publishing them. Though he always needed money, he actually asked Ober not to push the price up any higher. "I've gotten self-conscious," he told his agent, "and don't think my stuff is worth half what I get now."
Most writers could not devote themselves to great art and to popular trash at the same time. If they did, they would have to improve or reject their inferior work. But Fitzgerald, knowing it was trash, published it for the money and condemned himself for doing so. Untroubled by Scott's conflict and glad to see the money rolling in from any source, Zelda naively remarked: "I don't see why Scott objected so to those Post stories when he got such wonderful prices for them."24
The novelist who had written The Great Gatsby at the age of twenty-eight and had published seven books between 1920 and 1926 would seem to have a great career before him. But Fitzgerald succumbed to the temptation of easy money. He scarcely considered trying to live on the modest royalties of a serious novelist. Though he had earned a great deal, he and Zelda spent more than he made. Trapped in an increasingly hand-to-mouth existence, he never broke loose from the short story market and brought out only two more books during the last fourteen years of his life.
1. Quoted in Mellow, Invented Lives, p. 203; Fitzgerald, Letters, p. 317; Fitzgerald, "How to Live on Practically Nothing a Year," Afternoon of an Author, p. 111.
2. Frances Fitzgerald Smith, "Ou Sont Les Soleils d'Antan? Francoise 'Fijeralde'?" F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest M. Hemingway in Paris, ed. Matthew Bruccoli and C. E. Frazer Clark (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1972), n.p.; Fitzgerald, "How to Live on Practically Nothing a Year," Afternoon of an Author, p. 105.
3. Quoted in Honoria Murphy Donnelly with Richard Billings, Sara & Gerald: Villa America and After (New York, 1982), p. 14; Dos Passos, Best Times, p. 152; Interview with Fanny Myers Brennan, Kew Gardens, New York, March 14, 1992.
4. Quoted in Milford, Zelda, pp. 430-431; Interview with Honoria Murphy Donnelly, Palm Beach, Florida, February 7, 1992.
5. Quoted in Turnbull, Scott Fitzgerald, p. 172; Interview with Ellen Barry, Hobe Sound, Florida, February 7, 1992; Calvin Tomkins, Living Well is the Best Revenge (New York, 1972), pp. 125-126.
While living in Havana in 1939, Hemingway behaved in a remarkably similar fashion: "During his high-spirited fortieth birthday party at Sanchez's house, Hemingway got completely drunk, threw Thorwald's clothes out the window and began to break the Baccarat crystal glasses while Tina Sanchez screamed for her butler to lock them up" (Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway: A Biography, New York, 1985, p. 332).
6. Quoted in Mellow, Invented Lives, p. 269; Fitzgerald, Correspondence, pp. 196-197, 398; Quoted in Laura Hearne, "A Summer with Scott Fitzgerald," p. 209.
7. Quoted in Tomkins, Living Well is the Best Revenge, p. 128; Fitzgerald, "Handle with Care," Crack-Up, p. 79; Fitzgerald, Letters, p. 447.
8. Quoted in Tomkins, Living Well is the Best Revenge, p. 120; Wanda Corn, "Identity, Modernism and the American Artist After World War I: Gerald Murphy and Americanisme," Nationalism in the Visual Arts (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1991), p. 169.
9. Fitzgerald, Letters, p. 377; Quoted in Milford, Zelda, p. 141; Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz, Collected Writings, p. 86; Quoted in Milford, Zelda, p. 433.
10. Fitzgerald, "Handle with Care," Crack-Up, p. 77; Fitzgerald, Correspondence, p. 246; Fitzgerald, Notebooks, p. 113.
11. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Romantic Egoists, p. 120; Zelda Fitzgerald, "Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number--," Crack-Up, pp. 44-45 (this work is attributed to Zelda in Scott's Ledger); Letter from Scott Fitzgerald to Charles Warren, December 6, 1934, Princeton.
12. F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The High Cost of Macaroni," Interim (Seattle), 4 (1954), 15; Fitzgerald, Correspondence, p. 349; Myers, "Scott and Zelda," p. 32; Fitzgerald, Correspondence, p. 160.
13. Joseph Conrad, Collected Letters. Vol. III, 1903-1907, ed. Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies (Cambridge, England, 1988), pp. 230, 239, 241; D. H. Lawrence, Letters. Volume III: 1916-1921, ed. James Boulton and Andrew Robertson (Cambridge, 1984), p. 469; Fitzgerald, Letters, pp. 197, 376.
14. Dear Scott/Dear Max, pp. 82-84.
15. Fitzgerald, Letters, p. 501; Joseph Conrad, "The Secret Sharer," The Shadow-Line and Two Other Tales, ed. Morton Zabel (New York, 1959), p. 123; Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby, p. 99.
16. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (New York, 1931), pp. 81, 215; Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby, p. 111; Fitzgerald, Letters, pp. 383-384, 329.
17. Fitzgerald, Letters, pp. 378, 499.
18. Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby, pp. 65, 129-130; Herbert Asbury, "The Noble Experiment of Izzy and Moe," The Aspirin Age, 1919-1941, ed. Isabel Leighton (New York, 1949), p. 34.
19. Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby, pp. 74, 172; Quoted in Turnbull, Scott Fitzgerald, p. 143.
20. Fitzgerald, Letters, p. 218; T. S. Eliot, "Gerontion" (1920), Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950 (New York, 1952), p. 22; James Joyce, Ulysses, ed. Hans Gabler (New York, 1986), p. 178 (for the names in the execution scene, see p. 252); Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby, pp. 93, 97.
The shirt display may have been partly inspired by Zelda. Speaking of Zelda in a letter of January 17, 1950, Sara Murphy told Mizener: "Cleanliness and order were a sort of fetish with her.-Bureau drawers the admiration of all" (Princeton).
21. Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby, pp. 131, 133, 134, 180.
22. Wilson, Letters on Literature and Politics, pp. 121, 173; Fitzgerald, Correspondence, p. 158; Stein, in Fitzgerald, Crack-Up, p. 308.
23. Edith Wharton, Letters, ed. R. W. B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis (New York, 1988), pp. 481-482; Hemingway, Selected Letters, p. 163; Eliot, in Fitzgerald, Crack-Up, p. 310.
24. Dear Scott/Dear Max, p. 102; Fitzgerald, Letters, pp. 375-376; As Ever, Scott Fitz, p. 175; Quoted in Henry Dan Piper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, p. 126.
Next: chapter 7.
Published as Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers (NY. Harper-Collins, 1994).