“At Your Age,” a relatively unknown 1929 short story published in the Saturday Evening Post, contains all the trademark elements that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s readers had come to expect by the end of the Jazz Age: there is a handsome, sympathetic hero embarrassed by his conventional, middle-class background; an irrepressible flapper whose flamboyant petulance symbolizes the frivolity of youth; a contemptuous, vain rival who steals the girl away with a flashy car; a doting, dull mother flummoxed by her daughter’s anti-traditionalism; and even talk of petting parties, those scandalous teenage necking extravaganzas that This Side of Paradise first brought to public attention nearly a decade earlier. And yet “At Your Age” departs from the familiar Fitzgerald formula in at least one significant way. Unlike Amory Blaine, Dexter Green, or Jay Gatsby, Tom Squires loses the girl not because he is too poor, but because he is too old. At fifty, Tom is attracted as much to Annie Lorry’s age as to her beauty or social status. She is for him a veritable fountain of youth, revivifying memories of “the warm sureties” of his own adolescence and reintroducing him to “the very terminology of young romance” (Price, 288). The pathos of the story arises from Tom’s belief that age is a mind set, not a chronological measure. “I am not old,” he assures himself. “At fifty I’m younger than most men of forty” (Price, 278). But when Annie betrays him with a swain thirty years his junior, he is stunned by the foolishness of his Ponce-de-Leon pretensions. Chastising her in a parental tone, he realizes “with a shock that he and her mother were people of the same age looking at a person of another.” By story’s end, Tom resolves to act his age: “He had lost the battle against youth and spring, and with his grief paid the penalty for age’s unforgivable sin—refusing to die” (Price, 291).
One exclamatory passage in particular captures Tom’s obsession with juvenescence: “Youth, by heaven—youth! I want it near me, all around me, just once more before I’m too old to care” (Price, 279). The statement aptly glosses Fitzgerald’s entire corpus, for throughout his writing his fixation with youth is a central concern. At its most basic, age provided Fitzgerald a measure of self-worth. As long as he believed himself young, he embodied the promise of early achievement. “I was always interested in prodigies because I almost became one,” he recollected at the ripe old age of 23. “I think [I] was one of the ten youngest in my class at Princeton” (Correspondence, 59-60). Seventeen years later, he described why he valued precocity over maturity: “The man who arrives young believes that he exercises his will because his star is shining,” he writes in “Early Success” (1937). “The man who only asserts himself at thirty has a balanced idea of what will power and fate have each contributed, the one who gets there at forty is liable to put the emphasis on will alone” (Crack-Up, 89). Youth was an ambrosial gift from the gods, a divine favor that marked the triumph of destiny over hard work. Even before Fitzgerald’s premature death in 1940, John Peale Bishop remembered how his former Princeton pal believed “he must produce from an early age,” lest he deem himself a failure: “I complained to him that I thought he took seventeen as his norm, making everything later a falling off. For a moment he demurred, then said, ‘If you make it fifteen, I will agree with you’ ” (Bishop, “The Missing All,” 108).
Unfortunately, most critics ignore the cultural background of Fitzgerald’s age consciousness, describing his obsession with youth as a personality flaw that distracts from the maturity of his craft. Yet his attitude toward growing old reflects a broader fetishization of youth that proved endemic to twentieth-century popular culture. “Time was when age meant dignity, authority, and power, while youth meant helpless slavery,” sixty-two-year-old Charlotte Perkins Gilman lamented in 1922. “Age as age claimed respect, the elders assuming that wisdom accrued with the passage of time with no effort on their part. But now the scene changes—changes beyond recognition. Age [now] stands as the rear-guard of an advancing society.” Appreciating the significance of youth in Fitzgerald’s writing necessitates looking beyond personal pathology to a broader conflux of modern attitudes toward the life cycle. It requires understanding why, in Gilman’s phrase, “the hour of the aged has passed, and the hour of youth has come” (Gilman, “Vanguard,” 349).
The forces responsible for this century-long “youthquake” are broad and diverse. As many historians have noted, the definition of adolescence as a distinct transitional period in the life cycle did not exist outside of the upper classes until the 1890s, when a range of institutions charged with overseeing the moral development of maturing youth arose in response to increasing patterns of industrialization and urbanization that eroded familial oversight over children. Compulsory public schooling, child-labor laws, and even extracurricular outlets like the Boy Scouts and the YMCA segregated teens from adult culture, granting them their own social space by stratifying them into age-specific cohort groups that encouraged intra-generational identification.1 As social scientists began distinguishing the psychosocial peculiarities of this new category of experience from pre-pubescence and adulthood, the idea of adolescence as a liminal stage of life took shape. Whereas children were once trained to emulate adults from an early age, the new ideal insisted that the teen years were a unique developmental period fraught with turbulence. And while Victorian moralists insisted on a strict regime of moral policing to ensure proper entry into adulthood, modern thinkers promoted an indulgent attitude that encouraged teens to formulate their identities through peer affiliations. By the 1920s, the first youth to grow up under this conception of adolescence entered the public eye as a distinct subculture, replete with its own slang, styles, and rites of passage. The sudden prominence of the younger generation excited public concern and launched a decade-long debate over the morality of its fads and fashions. The scrupulous attention fixed on youth also created a demand for spokesmen to mediate the widening generation gap—a role that no one in this period played better than Fitzgerald.
Teenagers themselves constituted only a segment of this emerging youth culture, however. The signs and symbols by which adolescents flaunted their youth entered the public domain where they risked appropriation by those who may not have been young but nevertheless wished to appear young. As Fitzgerald remembered in “Echoes of the Jazz Age” (1931), the “children’s party” of the early 1920s was eventually “taken over by the elders, leaving the children puzzled and rather neglected and rather taken aback” (Crack-Up, 15). A legion of self-help gurus insisted that youth did not belong exclusively to the young; it was an attitude, a life style available to those who knew the secret of not succumbing to senescence. As Hollywood films, music, and novels popularized the orgiastic credo of “ain’t we got fun,” the fashion, health, and cosmetic industries seized upon the youth appeal to claim their wares could imbue consumers with the vitality of young people. This enculturated pursuit of youth quickly transformed attitudes toward aging. Whereas the journey of life once symbolized a pilgrim’s progress from innocence to experience, growing old during the Jazz Age came to resemble planned obsolescence—an unsolicited invitation to irrelevance. Reading Fitzgerald’s work against this backdrop allows better recognition not only of the influences that shaped his own anxieties toward aging but also why the 1920s—and nearly every decade since—has seemed such an exclusive “affair of youth” (Crack-Up, 15).
When This Side of Paradise was published in 1920, readers were shocked by the realism of Fitzgerald’s portrait of teenage life. Here was a hero, Amory Blaine, who drank, flunked out of Princeton, and was even caught in an Atlantic City hotel room with a scantily clad underage girl. Most strikingly, the novel failed the major prerogative of young-adult fiction, for instead of illustrating the civic responsibilities of adulthood, it ended ambivalently, its protagonist no longer a boy but not quite a man, uprooted from the past but uncertain of the future. “I know myself, but that is all,” Amory confesses in a closing monologue (TSOP, 260). As Fitzgerald declared in an unpublished foreword, “whether [the] hero really ‘gets anywhere’ is for the reader to decide.”2 According to the Chicago Daily Tribune’s Burton Rascoe (April 3, 1920), Paradise offered “the only adequate study that we have had of the contemporary American in adolescence and young manhood” (Bryer, Critical Reception, 3-4). Popular books about growing up like Owen Johnson’s Stover at Yale (1912) or Booth Tarkington’s Seventeen (1916) suddenly seemed superficial by comparison. Amory might be “a prig, a snob, [and] an ass,” but “youth is all these things rather than the amiable baby Mr. Tarkington pictures him as being. Moreover, at 17 a youth has, despite the evidence of Mr. Tarkington, begun to think… to have ideas, worries, ambitions—unless he is fated for a life of utter stupidity and automatic action” (Bryer, Critical Reception, 3-4). While Johnson and Tarkington portrayed youth as adults wanted to see them, Fitzgerald showed teens as they saw themselves—as restless, hungry for experience, prone to temptation and excess. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch warned, Paradise promised a rude awakening for parents who believed their children lived in a Louisa May Alcott world. This was “no book for a daughter to put in the hands of her mother!” (Bryer, Critical Reception, 2).
Of course, the outre aspects of Paradise today seem more precious than shocking, but before 1920 revelations of deviant behavior among middle-class youth were few and far between. Rarer still was the novel’s unapologetic attitude, which not only took these indulgences for granted but boasted of them. Traditionally, Fitzgerald’s provocateur stance has been credited to influences such as naturalism, Freudian psychology, and the modernist Bildungsroman like James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, all of which encouraged darker, more complex portraits of maturation. Yet aesthetic innovations alone do not account for Paradise’s realism. Rather, the idea of adolescence itself was undergoing a redefinition that effectively antiquated roseate novels like Stover and Seventeen. Victorians had defined youth as a moral apprenticeship in which children learned the prevailing ideals of politesse essential to bourgeois respectability. Fictional teens like Horatio Alger’s genteel heroes were expected to model for young readers the appropriate responses to various ethical quandaries. Such youth perforce lacked psychological conflict, for had their authors dwelt too intently on the emotional complexities of adolescence, they would have contradicted their own insistence that rigorous self-discipline alone could shepherd young people through the maturation process.
By the early twentieth century, the Victorian image of pious, obedient youth competed against a new conception of adolescence as an awkward, troubled age, one inherently prone to deviance and rebellion. According to G. Stanley Hall, whose massive 1904 study Adolescence lent scientific legitimacy to the burgeoning notion of the “terrible teens,” youth was a time of “storm and stress” in which young people were overwhelmed by conflicting emotions and impulses. “Youthful dements wrestle with great problems and ideas,” Hall wrote. “But their powers are inadequate and they grow mentally dizzy, confused and incoherent” (Adolescence, i, 31011). While Victorians condemned this confusion as a sign of moral frailty, Hall expressed unprecedented empathy (if not envy) for his subjects. Essentially a Romantic, he defined adolescent development as a Rousseauian struggle between natural youth striving to retain primitive instincts and a civilized adult world excessively reticent in its passions and creativity. The teenager was the father of the man for Hall, for while maturity made one “prematurely old and too often senile in heart,” youth bristled with “the hot life of feeling” that adults failed to appreciate (ii, 59). The imperative of growing up was not to police impulses but to resist their repression, for if forced to mature too quickly, adolescents would find the salutary energy of youth enervated. The main legacy of Hall’s theory was a new “magnanimity and a large indulgent parental and pedagogical attitude” toward adolescents, “especially toward juvenile offenders” (i, 339), whose tendency toward transgression was ameliorated from a moral threat into a search for self-expression. As this new leniency redrew the norms of acceptable behavior, the “amiable baby” was succeeded by the rebel without a cause whose alienation and disquietude marked an intuitive quest for ethical certitude amid adult hypocrisies.
Fitzgerald owed his early success to the fact that adolescent and postadolescent readers were ripe for fiction that substantiated the newfound confusion and complexity associated with teenage life. As The Bookman recognized, Paradise was “a convincing chronicle of youth by youth” because Fitzgerald was not “looking back to [youth’s] problems with a wistful patronage” but was “still in the thick of the fight, and [writing with] the fierceness of combat” (Bryer, Critical Reception, 26). By tracing Amory’s emotions through triumph and tragedy, the novel documented the “instability and fluctuation” of youth’s temperament, illustrating how, as Hall argued, teens are torn between a “genius for extracting pleasure and gratification from everything” and an antithetical tendency toward “pain and disphoria” (Adolescence, ii, 75, 77). Moreover, by ending his story with his hero “grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken” (TSOP, 260), Fitzgerald defined adolescence as a process of emotional and historical accommodation. Ultimately, Amory does not know how to grow up because the lessons imbibed from role models prove ineffectual in the modern age. By suggesting that young people bear the brunt of cultural change, Paradise vividly endorsed Hall’s thesis that “modern life is hard, in many respects increasingly so, on youth” (Adolescence, i, xiv). In fact, Amory’s descent into disillusionment and ennui seemed such a confirmation of the Hallsian notion of the “dangerous teens” that the San Francisco Chronicle suggested Paradise could pass for “an additional chapter [of] G. Stanley Hall’s Adolescence or a psychopathological case record” (Bryer, Critical Reception, 28-9).
Although Fitzgerald’s novels after Paradise center on characters at the cusp of their thirties, much of his short fiction also features adolescents like Amory who must weather the storm and stress of growing up. Among the best of these “juveniles” are the Basil and Josephine stories, a series of fourteen tales written between 1928 and 1931 that treat teen courtship and popularity rituals with empathetic depth and dignity. Although its plots were based on incidents from the author’s own boyhood, the series was actually modeled on Tarkington’s Penrod and Seventeen, which Fitzgerald had enjoyed in his youth. Indeed, feeling the stories were too “full of Tarkington,” he declined to collect them in book form in the mid-193os, fearing, as he wrote his editor Maxwell Perkins, that the “inevitable comparisons” would undermine his reputation (Dear Scott/Dear Max, 199). Because he wrote these pieces for the highly remunerative Saturday Evening Post, Fitzgerald disparaged them as hack work and was perhaps incapable of appreciating just how they transcended their inspiration. Tarkington had popularized a facile image of youth called the “mooncalf,” usually a boy caught in the throes of a romantic delirium that renders him a comic figure. While the humor was more sentimental than satirical, the adolescent’s weepy, dreamy disposition was exaggerated to cartoonish proportions to emphasize his immaturity and demonstrate how “seventeen cannot always manage the little boy alive under all the coverings” (Seventeen, 243). Although Fitzgerald appreciated Tarkington’s skills as a humorist, he condemned the mooncalf as a dishonest representation of youth: “It is a pity,” he wrote in 1922, “that the man who writes better prose than any other living American was brought up in a generation that considered it a crime to tell the truth” (“Three Soldiers,” in Bruccoli, F. Scott Fitzgerald on Authorship, 72).3
Abandoning the demeaning mooncalf stereotype in his short stories allowed Fitzgerald to focus on the liminality of the adolescent experience and examine, like Hall, the conflict between impulse and discipline. Basil Duke Lee and Josephine Perry are simultaneously naive and knowing, part child and part adult. Both are aware of burgeoning carnal desires that, even if they culminate only in kisses, are nevertheless foreign to Seventeen’s Willie Baxter and his belle, Miss Pratt. (As if to reassure readers of her pre-pubescent asexuality, Tarkington inflicts Willie's paramour with a cloying penchant for baby talk.) Fitzgerald’s teens must also confront serious character flaws that threaten the evolution of their personalities. For Tarkington, Basil's vanity or Josephine’s selfishness would occasion slapstick humor, for whenever Willie preens for Miss Pratt, he inadvertently trips into dessert trays or sits on wet paint. Yet Fitzgerald refrains from reducing adolescence to a risible foible, treating it instead as a series of formative developmental challenges. In the final Basil story, “Basil and Cleopatra,” the hero longs “to be older, less impressionable, less impressed”; to do so, however, he must outgrow his attraction to the frivolous, popular girls who, over the course of eight tales, repeatedly prove unworthy of his affection (B&J, 207). The five-story Josephine series ends on a sadder note. In “Emotional Bankruptcy,” the heroine must admit that her “vast, tragic apathy” and narcissism render her unfit for mature love. Her flippant attitude toward romance leads her to the realization that, although not yet eighteen, she “has nothing to give” and can’t “feel anything at all” (B&J, 326-7). In both cases, Fitzgerald insists on the adolescent's capacity for epiphany. Basil and Josephine not only gain valuable insight into themselves, but the stories hint that they will never look upon the world as innocently as they once did.
Fitzgerald's most intriguing departure from the mooncalf tradition involves his revision of Tarkington’s patronizing narrative stance toward young readers. In Seventeen's final pages, Willie is forever separated from his love when Miss Pratt's family relocates. As the boy rebukes a neighbor girl for mocking his anguish, the narrator intrudes to report that, a decade later, she and Willie will marry, and their matrimonial bliss will prove to the mooncalf what he can't now bear to believe—that at seventeen he is too immature to recognize true love. Such interjections convey the benevolent condescension with which Tarkington dismisses adolescent emotions. Significantly, when Fitzgerald indulges in editorial asides, he directs his comments to adults unsympathetic to the teenage point of view. In “First Blood,” the introductory Josephine story, he describes his heroine's urge to kiss a suitor she barely knows: “Josephine was never either ashamed or plaintive… She did not plan;… she merely let herself go, and the overwhelming life in her did the rest.” Rather than condemn her abandon, Fitzgerald criticizes those who would judge her: “It is only when youth is gone and experience has given us a sort of cheap courage that most of us realize how simple such things are” (B&J, 235). Instead of encouraging adolescents to think like adults, Fitzgerald insists that older readers recognize that youth are instinctual, impulsive creatures for whom restraint seems an unfair impediment to mapping their own moral boundaries. By addressing a different implied audience than Tarkington, Fitzgerald made it clear that his sympathy lay with youth who, he implies, need latitude, not lecturing from elders.
In soliciting this adult understanding, Fitzgerald was not simply creating a more nuanced portrait of teen psychology than Seventeen allowed. He was also reversing the values traditionally attached to youth and maturity by idealizing the former as a standard that adults invariably fail. Youth for Fitzgerald marked the apogee of one’s romantic promise; once that peak was reached, aging exiled one into the cold, mundane world. In portraying age this way, Fitzgerald drew from a common pool of imagery that equated growing up with the Biblical story of the fortunate fall. Hall’s Adolescence also alluded to the fall to describe adulthood: “Perhaps the myth of Adam of Eden describes this epoch. The consciousness of childhood is molted, and a new… consciousness needs to be developed” (ii, 72).
For Fitzgerald, postlapsarian imagery accentuated the plot of the “initiation” or “coming-of-age” story to which he repeatedly returned. In tale after tale, a young man dispossessed of his dreams through a sudden twist of fate gains archetypal insight into the vanity of human desire. For several of his protagonists, including Amory, George O’Kelly in “The Sensible Thing” (1924), and Andy in “The Last of the Belles” (1929), a failed first love brings about this unwanted initiation. Others, whether Dick Diver, Anthony Patch, or Charlie Wales in “Babylon Revisited” (1931), fall prey to dissipation and find themselves nostalgic for the carefree fun they once took for granted. Whatever the catalyst, the effect of these experiences is always the same: Fitzgerald’s heroes feel suddenly, irrevocably old. The conclusion of “Winter Dreams” (1922) dramatizes this realization through explicit felix culpa imagery as Dexter Green is shocked to learn that his former love’s beauty has faded: “The dream was gone. Something had been taken from him… The gates were closed, the sun was gone down, and there was no beauty but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished” (Stories, 145). Few passages better convey the revelatory power of this analogy between the fall and aging. For Fitzgerald, there was simply no climax to a story more cathartic than a sudden yearning for the lost paradise of youth.
Fitzgerald and Hall were not alone in employing postlapsarian images to describe modern youth. By the 1920s, the first generation raised under Hall’s definition of adolescence was subjected to numerous editorials assessing its fallen state. (As late as 1919, the New York Times Index did not even include youth as a category heading. The 1922 Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, meanwhile, lists roughly twenty times more entries on the topic than its 1918-19 edition.) As titles like “Elder Not Better” and “Youngsters vs. Oldsters” suggest, commentators were divided along generational lines, with adult “grundies” condemning wild young people while self-proclaimed spokesmen for the latter bragged of their frankness. The older generation’s anxiety arose from a simple question: could indulged, cynical youth grow up into productive, moral adults? As Paula S. Fass argues, Fitzgerald served a mediating role in this debate. While his fiction “threw the behavior of America’s youth in the public’s face,” it also lamented their alienation from “an older order [of] values and standards” that “had been rendered conspicuously inoperative.” While providing an insider’s perspective on his generation’s mind set, he also assured older readers that youth “were less a threat to [America’s] former stability than an ongoing reminder that it had passed” (Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful, 28). We know we have fallen, Fitzgerald was insisting, but we do not know if we can get up.
No rite of passage depicted in Fitzgerald’s fiction excited as much comment as petting, a term that in polite circles referred to the relatively innocent art of “making out” but among young people themselves intoned a broader range of non-coital intimacies. This Side of Paradise owed its initial notoriety to its claim that “Victorian mothers” had no “idea how casually their daughters were accustomed to be[ing] kissed” and that a “popular girl… met before eight” at a dance might “possibly kiss before twelve” (TSOP, 61-2). Several early stories almost taunt adults with the threat of promiscuous necking. “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” (1920) begins at a country-club dance where “a great babel of middle-aged ladies with sharp eyes and icy hearts” police the “barbaric” dancing of the younger set, blissfully unaware that the “more popular, more dangerous, girls” are being “kissed in the parked limousines” of these same “unsuspecting dowagers” (Stories, 25-6). At such moments, Fass argues, Fitzgerald was telling “readers what they most feared but wanted to hear again and again in different and ever more alarming ways” (The Damned and the Beautiful, 28).
Yet petting scenes were not meant just to shock. They also conveyed youth’s unabashed interest in sex and its belief that Victorian repression was unhealthy. By insisting that recreational kissing did not lead to “cocktails, opium… and sheer perversity,” Fitzgerald illustrated how, as he wrote in a 1924 article, petting offered “an introduction to life” that was “intended by nature to ameliorate the change between the married and unmarried state.” Rather than weaken morality, premarital foreplay would “lessen a roving tendency after marriage,” for “a girl who knows before she marries that there is more than one man in the world but that all men know very much the same names for love is perhaps less liable after marriage to cruise here and there seeking a lover more romantic than her husband.”4 Within a decade, this argument became commonplace in advice guides and parenting manuals that encouraged adults “to accept the healthy conditions of our unsegregated modern adolescence” and recognize that “petting-parties” were “a natural and wholesome part of growing up emotionally.”5 The key word here is natural: although Fitzgerald’s work sensationalized petting and provoked scandal, it opened a cultural dialogue through which erotic intimacy became an accepted rite of passage in an adolescent’s growth.
Fitzgerald also examined the related issue of early marriage, a phenomenon that concerned the media almost as much as petting. In the 1920s, couples began to enter matrimony at a younger age than their parents. Fitzgerald and his own bride, Zelda Sayre, fell only slightly short of the decade’s median marriage age when they wed at twenty-three and nineteen respectively in April 1920.6 As the chronological boundaries of the new adolescence were extended to the mid-and late-twenties, trepidation arose over youth’s ability to reconcile expectations of marital bliss with the realities faced by most unions. These expectations were fueled by romanticized images of young love prevalent in films and sentimental fiction, including Fitzgerald’s more sugary Post stories. Such images not only established a new ideal of domestic passion but often intimated that premarital sex and birth control were appropriate means of searching out the perfect partner. As a 1930 study noted, tales of true romance depicted a “new attitude toward [a couple’s] preliminary trial union” that arose not from a “desire for promiscuity, but rather [from] the wish to make certain… that [a man and woman] are really suited to each other” (Blanchard and Manasses, New Girls for Old, 220). Traditionalists, upset to learn that youth believed sexual experimentation was healthy, found themselves in an awkward position. While praising youth’s commitment to the institution of marriage, they discouraged early entry into that responsibility. As a favorite phrase of the era insisted, it was better to “wait” than to “mate.”
Fitzgerald’s treatments of youthful marriage court both points of view. His commercial fiction generally promotes a carpe diem attitude toward young love. Gloria Patch in The Beautiful and Damned describes the marital ideal of many girls her age: “Marriage was created not to be a background but to need one. Mine is going to be outstanding. It can’t, shan’t be the setting—it’s going to be the performance, the live, lovely, glamorous performance, and the world shall be the scenery” (B&D, 147). Stories like “The Offshore Pirate” (1920), “The Unspeakable Egg” (1924), and “Rags Martin-Jones and the Pr-nce of W-les” (1924) insist that this theatrical dimension is essential to young romance. In each case, conventional and boring suitors prove themselves heirs to Valentino by concocting elaborate seduction ruses; the more outlandish their schemes, the more the young women are assured of an intriguing, adventurous marriage. Meanwhile, sentimental confections like “Love in the Night” (1925) and “The Adolescent Marriage” (1926) rewrite Tarkington’s Seventeen by valuing the intuitiveness of puppy love over mature, reasoned affection. Whereas Willie Baxter’s crush on Miss Pratt proves transitory, the infatuations of Fitzgerald’s adolescent couples weather separation and economic misfortune without enervating their intensity. Both stories insist that a first love is one’s true love, for the “unreal, undesirous medley of ecstasy and peace” of adolescent passion is “unrecapturable” in middle age (Stories, 310).
Equally often, however, Fitzgerald cautions against the disappointments of early marriage. Barely six months after their wedding, Anthony and Gloria Patch discover the “breathless idyl” of first love is an “extortion of youth” that quickly flees “on to other lovers” (B&D, 156). Similarly, “Babylon Revisited,” “One Trip Abroad” (1930), and “What a Handsome Pair!” (1932) all suggest that the self-absorption of adolescence is incompatible with marital felicity. “The Adjuster” (1925) offers his most didactic take on the subject. After barely three years, Luella Hemple has grown bored with her spouse and complains she deserves better. Her husband hires a mysterious specialist whose therapy consists mainly of telling Luella to grow up. Not surprisingly, she rebels against his prescriptions. “I want the light and glitter,” she insists. “There can’t be anything wrong in wanting to have things warm.” But Dr. Moon speaks of duty, not desire: “Happy things may come to you in life, but you must never go seeking them any more. It is your turn to make the fire.” When Luella demands to know his true identity, he offers a cryptic response: “I am five years” (TJA, 158-9). A brief coda confirms the doctor’s wisdom, for within a half decade, Luella learns to sacrifice her youth for the “mature kindness” and selflessness a successful marriage requires. While the story hardly subscribes to the Fitzgerald stereotype of wild youth, it does voice the sentiments of many columnists who questioned the viability of the new romantic conception of matrimony.
In assessing these new attitudes toward sex and marriage, Fitzgerald fixated in particular on the liberties afforded to the female sex. He was certainly not alone in discoursing on the subject. Throughout the decade, observers were startled by the plethora of self-described flappers, “It” girls, and baby vamps claiming to modernize femininity. Fitzgerald recognized that a girl’s access to new freedoms rested on her ability to blur the distinction between the child and adult. The “hard-boiled baby,” he told an interviewer in 1927, combined the “carefree, lovable child who rules bewildered but adoring parents with an iron hand” with the “pretty, impudent, superbly assured” femme fatale who is “as worldly wise, briefly clad and ‘hard-berled’ as possible.”7 Tender is the Night describes the ideal body type that resulted from this age blending: “Her resemblance,” Fitzgerald writes of a minor acquaintance of the Divers, “was rather to one of John Held’s flat-chested flappers than to the hierarchy of tall languid blondes who had posed for painters and novelists since before the war” (TITN, 291). The passage suggests how the new woman eschewed the feminine icon of her mother’s generation, the Gibson Girl, because her Rubenesque proportions conveyed matronly stolidness. By contrast, the sleek, boyish figure limned by Held (whose work illustrated three Fitzgerald book jackets) projected joyous, unrestrained movement. As a psychologist of the era observed, the flapper’s “long slender limbs and undeveloped torso” also suggested “immaturity”: “If modesty has departed from [her] legs, it has moved upwards to the body, where any display of the (formerly so much admired) characteristics of the fuller figure is discountenanced. The bosom must be small and virginal and maturity… is concealed as long as possible” (Flugel, The Psychology of Clothes, 161-2).
The idea that physical and emotional immaturity advanced women’s liberation offended older feminists like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who condemned flappers for abandoning their major duty: “By a strong, well informed, rigidly selective motherhood the young women of today could cleanse the human race of its worst inheritance by a discriminating refusal of unfit fathers… [But] as women [these girls] dress, their facial decoration, their behavior, show no hope of better motherhood, which is what they are women for” (Gilman, “Vanguard,” 353). But what Gilman failed to recognize—and what Fitzgerald’s fiction documents—is that young women felt their freedom inexorably tied to their youth. As Gloria Patch understands, the world is hers as long as she is young, which is why she prefers to act eighteen instead of twenty-two (B&D, 64). Zelda Fitzgerald made the same point more explicitly in a 1925 McCall’s article: “I believe in the flapper as an artist in her particular field, the art of being—being young, being lovely, being an object… [Her] sole functions are to amuse and to make growing old a more enjoyable process for some men and staying young an easier one for others” (Collected Works, 393).
Fitzgerald’s early work is a virtual hymn to these functions. His prototypical heroine, whether Rosalind Connage in Paradise, Sally Carrol Happer in “The Ice Palace,” or Nancy Lamar in “The Jelly-Bean,” is self-consciously immature, petulant, and selfish. “She wants what she wants when she wants it and she is prone to make every one around her pretty miserable when she doesn’t get it,” Fitzgerald writes in Paradise. “But in the true sense she is not spoiled. Her fresh enthusiasm, her will to grow and learn, her endless faith in the inexhaustibility of romance, her courage and fundamental honesty—these things are not spoiled” (TSOP, 170-1). G. Stanley Hall voiced a similar judgment in 1922 when he wrote that the flapper’s “sublime selfishness,” carelessness, and “the fact that she never seems to realize what it means to clean up after herself” were “affectations” by which she was “simply trying out all the assortments of temperamental types, dispositions, and traits of character, as she often tries out styles of handwriting before she settles upon one” (“Flapper Americana Novissima,” 780). For both writers, the flapper’s appreciation for the romance of life sanctioned her outlandish behavior. By modeling her exuberance, she taught peers how to maximize their pleasure.
Yet Fitzgerald also recognized that the fantasy of endless youth must inevitably confront the reality of aging. In his novels in particular, flappers typically enjoy an extended adolescence only to discover suddenly that their decadent, indulgent fun has irreparably weathered them. Although Gloria Patch aspires “to be young and beautiful for a long time” (B&D, 270), dissipation and marital discord exhaust these precious qualities. After a decade’s worth of living out the role of baby vamp, she is despondent to learn on her twenty-ninth birthday that she looks too old to convincingly play that part in the movies. Because she can pass for “a woman of thirty,” the film studio suggests she is better suited for “a small character… supposed to be a very haughty rich widow” (B&D, 403). In Tender is the Night, Rosemary at first fulfills the flapper’s function by resuscitating Dick Diver’s youth. “You’re not middle-aged,” she assures him when he complains of their age difference. “You’re the youngest person in the world” (TITN, 106). But while Rosemary invigorates his adolescent passions, Dick’s “father complex,” his quasi-incestuous attraction to young girls, allows him to see her only as a child. During their initial infatuation, he is haunted by gossip that the teenage Rosemary was caught in flagrante delicto on a train; four years later, upon consummating their affair, he demands full knowledge of her sexual history. At both moments, Dick cannot reconcile her sexuality with the ingenue she portrays in films like Daddy’s Girl, in which she appears “so young and innocent… embodying all the immaturity of the race” (80). While he tries to explain the abrupt ending of their friendship by claiming that “Rosemary didn’t grow up” (321), his affection for her is doomed the minute he realizes that she is indeed an adult. Once he understands that her apparently naive innocence is a cinematic illusion, Dick simply has no use for Rosemary.
Of course, Fitzgerald’s most affecting portrait of the aging flapper is Daisy Buchanan in Gatsby. Although worn cynical by her husband’s constant infidelity, Daisy strives at twenty-three to remain the same frivolous teenager who fell in love with Jay Gatsby five years earlier. To maintain her self-image, she affects contrived, exaggerated gestures that accentuate her childishness, occasionally even speaking in the same baby talk as Miss Pratt in Seventeen. But whereas Tarkington employed this affectation to convey his heroine’s innocence, in Gatsby it underscores Daisy’s desperate denial of her role in her lover’s demise. As long as she believes herself young and carefree, she can be careless without consequence. Thus when Tom and Gatsby square off at the Plaza Hotel to demand Daisy choose between them, she pines to escape into youth: “We’re getting old,” she announces as music seeps into their suite from a nearby ballroom. “If we were young we’d rise and dance” (GG, 135). In the novel’s closing indictment of Tom and Daisy’s “vast carelessness,” Nick implicitly ties the couple’s ability to retreat and “let other people clean up the mess they had made” to their unwillingness to acknowledge their lost youth. When Jordan Baker accuses him of mistreating her, Nick acknowledges the connection between age and complicity that the Buchanans cannot admit: “I’m thirty. I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor” (186). Equating maturity with guilt, Nick suggests that Daisy’s desire to remain young is not born the hope of preserving youth’s ephemerality but her immature need to evade adult responsibilities.
Fitzgerald’s work also reveals awareness of a third aspect of youth culture prevalent in the 1920s: the emergence of youth as a marketplace commodity. With a fervor equal to their editorial counterparts, era advertisers began courting the under-thirty market with campaigns that appealed to youth’s sense of distinction from elders. In 1925 a professor of advertising psychology explained this targeting of adolescent consumers: “Young people not only rule the market as far as their own purchases are concerned, but they have a powerful influence upon all family purchases… The resistance to new ideas to be met in the young is less than in the old, hence the widespread appeal to the young in current advertising” (Poffenberger, Psychology in Advertising, 583). These appeals involved the creation of trademark logos like the Arrow Collar Man and the Jantzen Girl (the nation’s first swimsuit model) that glowed with athletic vitality and aristocratic sophistication. The flapper also provided an all-purpose spokeswoman for everything from tourism to deodorant. The Fisher Body Girl is perhaps the most extreme example of her appropriation by advertisers; celebrating automobile designs by equating car and female frames might seem an absurd (and sexist) stretch, but, as Roland Marchand notes, the flapper exuded a sleek mobility that made the “woman on the move” motif, the “image of women in actual or impending motion,” a coveted symbol among motor companies (Advertising the American Dream, 182). By claiming to embody a similar aura of youthful energy, consumer goods across an array of product lines formed a network of identification that allowed youth from disparate backgrounds to define themselves as part of a homogeneous generational constituency. A boy lacking the financial resources to attend college could nevertheless look collegiate with the right polo shirt, baggy tweeds, and knickers. In this way, youth culture confirmed the power of mass culture to promulgate life styles across a national expanse previously segregated by region, class, and ethnicity.
Fiction proved a popular medium in this expanding youth market. Only five years before This Side of Paradise was published, Saturday Review of Literature founder Henry Seidel Canby had complained that publishers were indifferent toward the campus novel.8 But after Paradise sold fifty thousand copies, the world of the co-ed became a common literary setting. While many of the resulting books merely relocated the typical sentimental romance plot to an academic locale, other college novels like Percy Marks’s The Plastic Age (1924) or Kathleen Millay’s Against the Wall (1929) were serious critiques of the pedagogical imperatives of higher education, often portraying the university as a “prison,” with “administrators [as] smooth, cold wardens … faculty [as] tired and uninspired” and “thinking [as] dangerous” (Marchalonis, College Girls, 129). But while critics protested its condemnation of elitism and pedantry, campus fiction inspired intense reader loyalty. Students at the University of Illinois were so devoted to a Midwestern variation on Fitzgerald’s debut novel, Lynn and Lois Montross’s Town and Gown (1923), that when a lukewarm review appeared in the student newspaper, the editor found himself on the receiving end of a month-long barrage of angry letters. Another novel that rivaled Paradise in sales and influence, Warner Fabian’s Flaming Youth (1923), proved such a phenomenon that even Fitzgerald was compelled to write the author. “Who in the devil are you?” he playfully demanded during a brief correspondence with Fabian. “Do you know at least a dozen people have asked me if I wrote Flaming Youth? I wish I had but I’m sure I didn’t” (Correspondence, 131).
Readers could be forgiven for assuming Fitzgerald had authored the novel, for the press so persistently identified him with flappers and slickers that he was often credited with creating youth as a market niche. Much-circulated declarations like his 1920 claim that “an author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward” (“Author’s Apology,” in Bruccoli, F. Scott Fitzgerald on Authorship, 35) not only implied that an artist’s primary loyalty was to his peers; they also suggested that his peers constituted an ideal target market. In at least one light comedy, “Dice, Brassknuckles & Guitar” (1923), he poked fun at the commodification of youth with a tale of a selfprofessed “jazz master” who opens an institute to train debutantes in flapper etiquette. “Parents innocently assumed that it was a sort of musical and dancing academy,” Fitzgerald writes. “But its real curriculum was transmitted from Santa Barbara to Biddeford Pool by that underground associated press which links up the so-called younger generation” (Stories, 248). More often, Fitzgerald was on the receiving end of parody for bringing this “underground associated press” into the mainstream. In a Saturday Evening Post piece, Dorothy Parker satirized what many saw as his entrepreneurial savvy in writing about his generation. Fitzgerald may not have “invented youth… but he was well up in the van when it came to cashing in on the idea.” He and his fellow litterateurs “don’t regard being young as one of those things that are likely to happen to anybody. They make a business of it.” Parker even offered some attention-grabbing titles sure to propel future exposes on debauched youth into bestsellerdom: Annabelle Takes to Heroin, Gloria’s Neckings, and Suzanne Sobers Up, she insisted, all “broadcast the grim warning that conditions are getting no better rapidly and that decadence, as those outside the younger generation know of it, is still in its infancy” (Parker, “Professional Youth,” 14, 156-7).
The fascination with youth’s life style also engendered fads and fashions aimed at adults anxious to avoid feeling old. By the mid-1920s, much popular discourse was insisting that age was a matter of psychology, not chronology. As Forum Magazine assured its audience, “A youthful spirit can dominate gray hair or wrinkled hands, if it is not cramped and cumbered by the mental limitations of ‘years’. Remember always, don’t act your age” (Lutes, “The Art of Not Growing Old,” 246). Teenagers scoffed at the sight of mothers in knee-high skirts and rolled stockings. “The old girls are doing it because youth is,” one flapper told the New Republic. “Everybody wants to be young, now—though they want all us young people to be something else. Funny, isn’t it?” (quoted in Bliven, “Flapper Jane,” 66). Yet the coveting of youth nevertheless created demand for an array of wrinkle creams, vitamins, and bizarre surgical remedies. An extreme example of the latter, known as the “Steinach operation” and practiced even by eminent sages like William Butler Yeats, required severing a man’s vas deferens so testosterone was not ejaculated in the sperm but remained in the bloodstream to rejuvenate the spirit.9 Such curatives dramatize just how desperately consumers wanted to believe that the biological clock could be turned back. Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (1922) dramatizes the productivity many presumed possible if only youth’s energy and maturity’s wisdom could be synchronized. A man who emerges from the womb at seventy and grows progressively younger throughout his life hits his peak just when middle age should slow him down. Yet Button at forty possesses the vigor of twenty; he even beats out boys younger than his own son for a spot on the Harvard football squad. For many commentators, capitalizing on youthfulness in this fashion wasn’t a supernatural fantasy but the end result of a positive, vitalist outlook on life.
This pursuit of youth inspired a reciprocal anxiety about the age at which one officially became “out of date.” The significance of certain milestones (thirty and forty most often) became a subject of endless conjecture. The groundwork for this trend was laid as early as the 1880s, when scientists like George Miller Beard began formulating laws on “the relation of age to work.” Beard calculated that most statesmen, military leaders, and artists peaked before forty, a time when “their brains have begun to degenerate, and the fires of youth have spent half their force” (American Nervousness, 22). (His life subsequently validated his assertion; after concocting it in his mid-thirties, Beard was dead by forty-four.) By 1905, age sensitivity was so acute that an address by Johns Hopkins University professor William Osler (a former instructor of Gertrude Stein’s) ignited outrage for satirically endorsing euthanasia for sexagenarians. When tabloids claimed that his comments prompted some two dozen elderly suicides, a shaken Osler was forced to explain in the New York Times that he was merely promoting compulsory retirement for aged workers incapable of competing with youth’s productivity.10 The age discrimination that Beard and Osler advocated was de facto employment policy by the 1920s; in the advertising and public relations industry, it was a common belief that men over thirty-five were unfit for the hectic pace and pressure of agency life. When a leading ad agency executive voiced this opinion in a 1931 Printer’s Ink interview, his comments incited an angry response from one reader: “The man of forty-five has a hard enough time as it is now. Stop telling the world that as a copywriter he lacks potency. What is to become of the upper-middle-aged if this stuff is kept up?” (quoted in Marchand, Advertising the American Dream, 242). Despite such rebuttals, the belief that the end of one’s twenties marked the ebbing of promise and potential persisted. According to Howard Chudacoff, as chronological milestones “became a rite of passage… provoking introspection about one’s individual history and schedule,” growing older occasioned the pervasive assumption that life’s “greater rewards… were to be had at previous ages” (How Old Are You?, 132).
Far from an aberration then, Fitzgerald’s age consciousness was the product of a culture in which aging became synonymous with deterioration and degeneration. More than any author of the era, he was obsessed with the symbolism of age milestones, often making their passage the dramatic crux of his plots. The Beautiful and Damned might well be subtitled “Countdown to Thirty,” for Anthony and Gloria so dread the onslaught of middle age that their descent into decadence seems an effort to squander their youth before time can claim it. The story is often interrupted by editorial asides that echo popular assessments of the stages of life: “It is in the twenties that the actual momentum of life begins to slacken, and it is a simple soul indeed to whom as many things are significant and meaningful at thirty as at ten years before. At thirty an organ-grinder is more or less a moth-eaten man who grinds an organ—and once he was an organ-grinder!” (B&D, 169). In a similar fashion, Anson Hunter in “The Rich Boy” (1926) fears that turning thirty will imbue him with “the fussy pessimism of a man of forty,” so to maintain his sense of vitality and possibility, he dedicates himself to acting twenty by immersing himself in a frivolous, pseudo-collegiate world of drinking parties and debutante balls (Stories, 348-9). Tender is the Night also attributes characters’ behavior to their age. As Nicole Diver dresses for an adulterous rendezvous with Tommy Barban, Fitzgerald compares her desire for romance to a teenage girl’s: “Attractive women of nineteen and of twenty-nine are alike in their breezy confidence … The former are ages of insolence, comparable the one to a young cadet, the other to a fighter strutting after combat.” Because she is not yet thirty, Nicole is excused from accounting for “the subsequent years when her insight will often be blurred by panic, by the fear of stopping or the fear of going on. But on the landings of nineteen or twenty-nine she is pretty sure that there are no bears in the hall” (TITN, 313). (Nicole in this way recalls Gloria in Beautiful, who staves off her fear of growing old by acting like a teenager, until at twenty-nine she realizes she looks older than her age.) In defining the significance of age milestones, Fitzgerald inverts (if not mocks) the advice of youth gurus like the Forum Magazine author who extolled her audience to act as youthful as possible. However we might fancy ourselves young, he insists, the moment at which we are unmasked as old and decrepit is always imminent.
Fitzgerald’s deterministic belief in the stages of life turns even grimmer in his notebooks, where he often ascribes his professional failures to senescence. A prescient couplet suggests how deeply aging shaped his sense of his own capability: “Drunk at 20, wrecked at 30, dead at 40 / Drunk at 21, human at 31, mellow at 41, dead at 51” (Notebooks, 189). Age consciousness is even a recurring motif in the reminiscences of his contemporaries. In her autobiography What is Remembered, Alice B. Toklas recalls Fitzgerald visiting Gertrude Stein’s famous atelier at 27, rue de Fleurus on his thirtieth birthday: “One afternoon he said, You know I am thirty years old today and it is tragic. What is to become of me, what am I to do? And Gertrude told him that he should not worry, that he had been writing like a man of thirty for many years” (What is Remembered, 117). Even if the story were true—and its veracity seems doubtful since Fitzgerald was in southern France, not Paris in September 1926 when he passed this particular milestone—it is unlikely that Stein’s response would have comforted him much. The idea of premature aging was simply too central to his tragic sensibility.
The glorification of youth prevalent in Fitzgerald’s writing suggests the extreme to which American popular culture denigrates adulthood. The fixation with adolescence apparent in This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, the short stories, and essays not only reflects this denigration but also has helped sustain it in the American imagination since the 1920s. In 1953, Van Wyck Brooks cautioned against resurgent interest in Fitzgerald by warning that “the cult of youth” he celebrates might “fill [readers] with a fear of growing old that… precludes at the outset any regard for the uses of growing up” (The Writer in America, 69). Other Eisenhower-era critics—one thinks of Leslie Fiedler and Ihab Hassan in particular—also cited Fitzgerald as an example of the American intellect’s arrested development. To minimize his importance, they depicted him as a harbinger of the beats, “J.D.s” (juvenile delinquents), and Elvis Presleys of their time—which may not be as frivolous a legacy as they intended the comparison to seem. The rise of culturalist approaches to literature has helped us better appreciate the multifarious uses that the category “youth” serves in the popular arena. Adolescence as a tempestuous stage of ethical accommodation and adjustment dramatizes the unsettling celerity of change that characterized the twentieth century; the adolescent, meanwhile, marks the space within which we debate these transforming social attitudes toward sex, marriage, and work, among other issues. Rather than rebuke Fitzgerald for failing to mature, we ought to recognize how deeply his corpus registers the struggle to grow up in a culture that demonizes growing old.
Quotations in this chapter are from the 1934 edition of Tender is the Night, the 1991 edition of The Great Gatsby, and the 1995 edition of This Side of Paradise. For details, see Bibliography.
1 For the emergence of youth as a distinct subculture in America, see Joseph F. Kett, Rites of Passage 245-72.
2 This piece is printed under the title “Preface” in the 1995 Cambridge University Press edition of This Side of Paradise. See 393-5.
3 In Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald also parodies the mooncalf’s self-debasing romanticism while describing Dick Diver’s attraction to Rosemary Hoyt. In pursuing this nineteen-year-old actress, Dick succumbs to “the fatuousness of one of Tarkington’s adolescents” (103) and, by compromising the aristocratic superiority of his character, initiates his long fall into mediocrity.
4 See “Why Blame It on the Poor Kiss if the Girl Veteran of Many Petting Parties Is Prone to Affairs After Marriage?” originally published in New York American 52 (February 24, 1924): 3. The piece is reprinted in Bruccoli and Bryer, F. Scott Fitzgerald in His Own Time, 179-84. For this particular passage, see 183.
5 See Floyd Dell, “Why They Pet,” Parent’s Magazine 6 (October 1931): 63. It is worth noting that Fitzgerald routinely dismissed Dell’s 1920 novel Mooncalf as a pale imitation of his own Paradise.
6 See John Modell, Into One’s Own: From Youth to Adulthood in the United States, 1920-75. Modell notes that “the 1920s were a decade in which rather regularly, younger cohorts could look forward to somewhat younger marriages than their immediate predecessors [those of the 1910s] and to distinctly younger marriages than in the generation of their parents” (110).
7 Quoted in Margaret Reid, “Has the Flapper Changed? F. Scott Fitzgerald Discusses the Cinema Descendants of the Type He Has Made So Well Known,” Motion Picture Magazine (July 1927). Reprinted as “Flappers Are Just Girls With a Splendid Talent for Life,” in Bruccoli and Bryer, F. Scott Fitzgerald in His Own Time, 277-81. For this quote, see 280.
8 See Canby’s College Sons and College Fathers, 97.
9 For an overview of this and other strange remedies, see Thomas Cole, The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging, 181ff.
10 See Carol Haber and Brian Gratton, Old Age and the Search for Security: An American Social History, 163-5.
AA Afternoon of An Author
ATSYM All the Sad Young Men
B&D The Beautiful and Damned
B&J The Basil and Josephine Stories
F&P Flappers and Philosophers
GG The Great Gatsby
LT The Last Tycoon
LOTLT Love of the Last Tycoon
PH The Pat Hobby Stories
TJA Tales of the Jazz Age
TITN Tender is the Night
TSOP This Side of Paradise
Apprentice Fiction The Apprentice Fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald (ed. Kuehl)
As Ever, Scott Fitz As Ever, Scott Fitz: Letters Between F. Scott Fitzgerald and His Literary Agent, Harold Ober 1919-1940 (ed. Bruccoli and McCabe Atkinson)
Bits Bits of Paradise
Correspondence The Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald (ed. Bruccoli and Duggan)
Crack-Up The Crack-Up (ed. Wilson)
Dear Scott/Dear Max Dear Scott/Dear Max: The Fitzgerald-Perkins Correspondence (ed. Kuehl and Bryer)
Ledger F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Ledger (ed. Bruccoli)
Letters The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald (ed. Turnbull)
Life in Letters F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters (ed. Bruccoli)
Notebooks The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald (ed. Bruccoli)
Price The Price Was High: The Last Uncollected Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (ed. Bruccoli)
Short Stories The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection (ed. Bruccoli)
Stories The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Kirk Curnutt is Associate Professor of English at Troy State University, Montgomery, Alabama. He is the author of Wise Economies: Brevity and Storytelling in American Short Stories (1997) and The Critical Response to Gertrude Stein (2000).
Published in The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald edited by Ruth Prigozy (Cambridge University Press 2002).