The Composition and Revision of Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned
by Amy J. Elias

Scholars have been quick to label F. Scott Fitzgerald's second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, a hasty endeavor, and the mixed critical reception upon its publication has influenced studies of the novel ever since. Compared to Fitzgerald's other novels, it has received little critical attention; the composition of This Side of Paradise, Tender is the Night, and even The Last Tycoon, a posthumously published novel fragment, have been examined in book-length studies, but very little work has been done on the composition of The Beautiful and Damned. This article, while not a full-length study, is a beginning. It examines the surviving holograph manuscript, among the Fitzgerald Papers at Princeton University Library, and discusses its relation to the serialized version, published in Metropolitan Magazine, and to the Scribner first edition of the novel.


If early drafts of Fitzgerald's The Side of Paradise (1920) show us an author in his adolescence as a craftsman, the holograph manuscript of The Beautiful and Damned (19w2) shows us the same author in his young adulthood. The manuscript is a relatively straightforward document: with the exception of 18 typed sheets, which have been substituted for handwritten sheets, all leaves are holograph drafts in pencil. By examining the holograph manuscript and comparing it to the serial text and first edition, one sees Fitzgerald carefully revising narrative point-of-view and characterization before the novel saw print. He was also learning to create the subtly ironic endings that would characterize later novels such as Tender Is the Night (1934).

Fitzgerald seems to have written large manuscript sections of from 10 to 35 pages in single sittings; some of these sections are first drafts, others are fair copies of earlier versions. The manuscript indudes conventional prose narrative, dramatic monologue, theatre script, and epistolary writing. Yet Fitzgerald's attention to structure is evident throughout. He has divided his text into three hooks, each containing three chapters, with the chapters in turn divided into titled sections. Each book has its own title page in manuscript: Book I is called “The Pleasant Absurdity of Things”; Book II is “The Romantic Bitterness of Things”; Book III is “The Ironic Tragedy of Things.” These titles were not retained for the published edition[1], an unfortunate decision in some ways, for they suggest that Fitzgerald perceived the sections as equal in significance, each reflecting a crucial stage in the development of Anthony and Gloria Patch[2].

The manuscript is a “busy” document. There are numerous notes to the typist, many corrections of spelling, and much alteration of words and deletion of both paragraphs and full pages. Often text on holograph leaves is cut immediately before and after a typed insert. The narrative thus continues without interruption from manuscript, to typescript, back to manuscript. These typed inserts are significant, for they indicate that the novel was subject to more editing and revision than previously has been suspected.

These revisions also raise a question that has been almost completely ignored in analyses of The Beautiful and Damned: when did Fitzgerald begin writing his second novel? The answer is difficult to determine. In June 1920 Fitzgerald notes in his Ledger, “I plan novel, story & play before Oct. 16th,” and in July 1920, “Beginning novel.” These ledger entries are deceptive, however, for Fitzgerald may have planned and perhaps written some form of the novel as many as ten months earlier.

On 18 September 1919, Fitzgerald wrote to Maxwell Perkins at Charles Scribner's Sons that he was beginning “(last month) a very ambitious novel called The Demon Lover which will probably take a year.”[3] The Demon Lover might have been the working title for “May Day” (1920), a novella similar in tone and theme to The Beautiful and Damned, or it might have been The Beautiful and Damned itself. Whatever the case, Fitzgerald's correspondence shows that, before June 1920, he was collecting material for the novel. He wrote to H. L. Mencken on 2 February that the novel on which he was currently at work “is to be called 'The Beautiful and Damned.'[4] And on 21 February, four months before he began writing his second book in earnest, Fitzgerald sent Perkins the typescript of approximately half of his wife's diary — a significant fact, for some of this material eventually became part of the text of The Beautiful and Damned.

The borrowing did not go unnoticed. In her own review of The Beautiful and Damned for the New York Tribune, Zelda Fitzgerald wrote, “It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and also scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald … seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.”[5] A note by Fitzgerald in the manuscript shows that he did in fact appropriate parts of Zelda's diary for Gloria's diary entries. On the verso of leaf 67, of Book III, chapter 1, in black pencil, scratched out but still legible, is Fitzgerald's note:

Zelda's diary here

Till all the water is used up

Tries to break her of chewing


This note, which has nothing to do with the action of the chapter in which it appears, indicates what portions of Zelda’s diary Fitzgerald would use for Gloria's diary entry in Book II, chapter 1. Gloria's entry reads as follows:

“June 8th. —And to-day I've promised not to chew my mouth. Well, I won't, I suppose — but if he'd only asked me not to eat!

Blowing bubbles — that's what we're doing, Anthony and me. And we blew such beautiful ones to-day, and they'll explode and then we'll blow more and more, I guess — bubbles just as big and as beautiful, until all the soap and water is used up.”[6]

Zelda Fitzgerald evidently chewed gum incessantly; Fitzgerald disguised this characteristic by changing “gum” to “mouth.” Later, he has Gloria munch gum-drops — but in the serialized version of the novel “gum” replaces “gum-drops” at odd intervals. Apparently, Zelda was so clearly in Fitzgerald's mind as he wrote that her real habits overshadowed those of his fictional heroine[7].

In 1940, Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter: “Gloria was a much more trivial and vulgar person than your mother. I can't really say there was any resemblance except in the beauty and certain terms of expression she used, and also I naturally used many circumstantial events of our married life.”[8] In at least one instance, the “terms of expression” were Zelda’s own written words. Interestingly, Fitzgerald cut one diary entry. It appears on leaves 27 and 28 of Book I, chapter 1, of the holograph manuscript, but does not appear in the published novel. After Gloria writes that, for Anthony, she “shall wear pink and look very fresh and excited,”[9] the holograph version continues with an impassioned outburst by Gloria. First, Gloria declares to an absent Anthony that she loves him; then Gloria's vulnerability is revealed when she wonders if Anthony will continue to love her after wrinkles and age mar her beauty. Most significantly, Gloria declares that she values her own beauty only because Anthony finds it of worth: “I know I love him forever and I value my face only because he thinks me beautiful —

This emotional entry reveals a side of Gloria that Fitzgerald suppresses in the published edition. Gloria in print is colder, more in control of both herself and her relationship with Anthony. This deleted entry shows her as more vulnerable and insecure, for she understands the transitory nature of beauty, yet still equates it with love. The passage also foreshadows the end of the novel, when Gloria's beauty is fading as she and Anthony grow apart. One wonders if this entry too was part of Zelda's diary, and, if so, what motivated its deletion.

Fitzgerald assuredly was writing his novel in July 1920 and by mid- August had decided upon the basic outlines for his major character and his plot. On 12 August he wrote to Perkins:

My new novel, called The Flight of the Rocket, concerns the life of one Anthony Patch between his 25th and 33rd years (1913 - 1921). He is one of those many with the tastes and weaknesses of an artist but with no actual creative inspiration. How he and his beautiful young wife are wrecked on the shoals of dissipation is told in the story. This sounds sordid but it's really a most sensational book… I hope it'll be in your hands by November 1st.”[10]

He was writing on to November to Perkins, “The novel goes beautifully. Done 15,000 words in last three days which is very fast writing even for me.”[11] By Christmas Fitzgerald had decided on a new title, The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy, and had contracted with Metropolitan Magazine to serialize the novel.[12]

On 13 January 1921, Fitzgerald notified Harold Ober that the novel was finished and that he was doing a final revision.[13] On 2 February he wrote Ober. “I shall go on with the novel which is all at the typists except one chapter. I will surely have it to you within two weeks.”[14] Fitzgerald was exaggerating, for Ober did not receive the typescript until mid-April. The comment does imply, however, that Fitzgerald was sending off chapters to the typist as he was revising. A number of pages in the holograph manuscript support this conclusion, for they contain instructions to Fitzgerald's typist, a Miss Oehler. The foliation of the holograph draft also suggests that Fitzgerald was sending off packets of 30 or more pages to his typist, then using a fresh sequence of foliation until she returned the typed pages, at which point Fitzgerald would switch to her numbering.

The holograph leaves also indicate that someone — not Fitzgerald— read the manuscript to identify grammatical errors and misspellings. Hundreds of notations to this purpose, always in black pencil, appear in the margins of the holograph leaves. Questionable spellings usually are circled in the text, and the problem is signaled with a question-mark or an “X” in the margin. Most of these errors have been corrected in the text in pencil. Clearly this person was reading the manuscript for mechanical errors before it went to the typist and before Fitzgerald made his own more substantial revisions (which included insertions and deletions of text) in the holograph manuscript. Some paragraphs have been read and marked for spelling errors and subsequently deleted.

Once Fitzgerald received the first typescript, another reader entered the picture: Edmund Wilson. Writing to him in February 1921, Fitzgerald outlined (humorously) the kind of editing he wanted Wilson to do:

The kind of criticism [sic] I'd like more than anything else — if you find you have the time, would be; par example

P. 10x find this page rotten

P. 10y Dull! Cut!

P. 10z Good! Enlarge!

P. 10a Invert sentence I have marked (in pencil!)

P. 10b unconvincing!

P. 1oc Confused![15]

By early February, Wilson had the typescript of the novel in hand. On the 10th of that month he wrote to Stanley Dell:

I am editing the MS of Fitz's new novel and though I thought it was rather silly at first, I find it developing a genuine emotional power which he has scarcely displayed before. I haven't finished it yet, though, so can't tell definitely.[16]

By 1 March, Wilson's opinion of the novel had risen, and he could write to Christian Gauss that “Fitz's new novel, which I have been editing, is admirable, much the best thing he has done.”[17] Fitzgerald was revising the typescript pages, ribbon and carbon, in black ink and then sending the ribbon copy to Wilson in sections for further editing. Writing to Perkins on 13 February, Fitzgerald indicated he was revising the typescript before sending it on to Wilson. “Bunny Wilson is reading Part II. Part III is still being worked over.”[18]

Editorial comments in Wilson's hand appear on consecutive typed inserts in Book II, chapter 3 (leaves 338 and 339 of the holograph manuscript). At this point in the narrative, Adam Patch is paying his ill-timed visit to Anthony and Gloria's home; the old man has observed the drunken party there and has left with Shuttleworth to return to his own house. Fitzgerald then begins, within this chapter, a new section entitled “Panic” in which an omniscient voice moralizes as follows:

So the bottom dropped out of the world and the two people fell into the center of the earth where, presently, they were licked by purgatorial flames. The manna of one century is the hail of the next, and these two had hailstones for food.

In the left margin near this paragraph, Wilson has written two sentences in pencil. The first is personal and emphatic: “I don't understand about the manna and the hailstones and in my opinion the whole passage is b[…].”[19] The second sentence is an objection to the paragraph on logical grounds: “Purgatory wasn't supposed to be in the center of the earth and it [contained] no flames.” Both comments have been scratched out with pencil, but they evidently were taken into account: the paragraph is deleted line by line in pencil on the typescript insert and does not appear in the Scribner edition.

Wilson followed the spirit of Fitzgerald's instructions more closely on leaf 339, the typescript page that follows in the draft. Here, the narrator continues to ruminate about the fate of Anthony and Gloria:

This Anthony, waster, idler, drunkard, scoffer at the holy things in man — pity him? Most assuredly not. And Gloria, the wild one, who despised the ancient arts of womankind and with an insolent, seemingly invulnerable beauty sought stimulation in all things and lived proudly in the worship of herself and her own.

The passage goes on:

Mammon the moralist can laugh at the consternation of the young couple, caught in their drunken revelry. Gloria and Anthony are like stranded goldfish in a dry bowl, and yet to sympathize with them was to forget that they had all the advantages of youth, intelligence, money, and a promising future.

Wilson's marginal comment this time was blunt: “Terrible! it sounds something like David [Graham] Philips, something like Virginia Terherne Van de [Vestor].” The paragraph is indeed stilted and artificial, and the narrative voice is clumsy and sentimental. Playing Pound to Fitzgerald's Eliot, Wilson deleted from this paragraph all but the fifth and sixth sentences. These begin the section, retitled “Retrospect,” on page 276 of the Scribner first edition. To judge from these examples, Wilson was a good editor for Fitzgerald, one who kept him from confusing allusions, writing illogical sentences, penning purple prose, or employing a pompous narrative voice.

Apparently Fitzgerald was sending the ribbon typescript to Wilson and continuing to revise the carbon. He wrote to Perkins on 30 March, “I brought the completed novel south with me but when I got the last chapter from the typists I sat down & began to do that chapter over. I’ve changed the ending. Its too obvious to have him go crazy.”[20] (The ending of the novel proved particularly problematical for Fitzgerald.) Fitzgerald worked diligently; by 22 April he was sending a final typescript in three parts to Harold Ober to forward to Metropolitan Magazine for serialization.[21] On some of the typescript sheets inserted in the holograph manuscript, Fitzgerald has written instructions to a typist, so it is likely that the second and final typescript was made from the first.

The copy Fitzgerald sent to Ober would have been a ribbon or carbon copy, incorporating all revisions made on the first typescript. The situation is complicated by the fact that the second typescript, which Scribner’s presumably used as setting copy, does not survive, and only 18 leaves of the first typescript (inserted in the holograph manuscript) are now extant.


In September 1921 the first of seven installments of The Beautiful and Damned ran in Metropolitan Magazine, but in truncated form. Carl Hovey, the editor of Metropolitan, abbreviated the novel severely, cutting out nearly a third of the 130,000 word typescript. Nowhere in his collected letters does Fitzgerald protest about these cuts.[22] His concern is largely with the text of the Scribner edition. Had this not been the case, perhaps Fitzgerald might have been better prepared for the mixed critical and public reception of the novel, for Hovey’s cuts to some extent indicate the public taste of the time.

Some of Hovey’s cuts and changes were probably made so that the text would conform to the magazine’s editorial policies and space limitations . In Book I the cuts do not markedly change characterization or plot; most of the deletions consist of short, dispersed paragraph cuts or word changes. However, in the Metropolitan version, Anthony seems less popular among his peers than he does in the manuscript version, because in the former all references to his acquisition of status at Harvard are deleted. The short early scene is cut in which Anthony sees a woman in a red negligee,”[23] and hence important plot foreshadowing is eliminated. And much of the description of people and the city that adds color and life to the book is deleted, apparently to save space.”[24] More important, descriptions of Anthony’s “dissolute” lifestyle are cut[25], as is an entire section in which Anthony and Gloria go to a cabaret show[26]. This last scene is interesting, and its deletion makes one wonder whether Hovey was here more concerned with the reactions of his conservative readers than merely with saving space. The people Fitzgerald satirizes in this section, after all, could be the middle-class readership of a popular magazine. In like manner, while Gloria remains beautiful and daring, all implications about her sexual nature are deleted[27].

In Book II, Hovey’s cuts are much more extensive[28]. They are expertly made; Hovey primes most incidentals.[29] Other excisions, however, seem arbitrary. For instance, even veiled references to sex are cut: “Breath of the Cave,”[30] in which Anthony hears a “ghastly reiterated female sound;” Gloria's casual comment that if as a married woman she’d want another man, “there’d be nothing casual about it;”[31] “A Nietzschean Incident”[32] in which Gloria, suspecting she is pregnant, talks in veiled terms to Anthony about abortion; “The Triumph of Lethargy”[33] in which Gloria finds out she is not pregnant; and Gloria's distinction between “clean” and “unclean” persons.[34] Any questioning of traditional norms for men’s and women’s roles often is removed as well: the scene revealing Anthony as a coward[35]; Gloria’s philosophy of “not giving a damn;”[36] comments concerning Gloria’s “female” education[37]. Scenes of the couple's debauches are cut considerably, as are ironic narrative comments about the war effort[38].

Hovey’s cuts in Book III are also extensive, but here his motivation seems to have been to remove psychological insights in favor of action, and to speed up narrative pace. Most of Anthony’s journey to Camp Hooker and his routine there is excised;[39] the result is a perceptible loss of irony in the narrative voice. Hovey still manifests some sensitivity to sexual innuendo; he deletes the fact that Anthony maintains Dot in a downtown boardinghouse and eliminates all intimations of an attraction between Rachel Barnes and Anthony[40]. Deleted also is an entire section in chapter two[41]—a block of Dreiserian text concerning Muriel Kane’s visit to the Patch’s Claremont Avenue apartment. But while Maury Noble’s snubbing of Anthony is deleted, Anthony’s beating at the hands of Bloekman is not. No attempt ultimately is made to tidy up the fate of the ruined young couple.


About the time The Beautiful and Damned began its serial run, Fitzgerald received galley proofs from Scribner’s; he proceeded to revise these extensively. The galleys do not survive, but correspondence indicates the extent of his revisions. Fitzgerald wrote to Ober on 16 October, “I made so many changes in the galley proof that I would rather send you a page proof to offer to the movies.”[42] To Perkins on 28 October he joked, “I think the stenographer probably took the proof out to lunch because she couldn’t decipher the corrections on an empty stomach.”[43] And in November he wrote to Ober and noted, “It’s a changed book from the serialized version as I’ve almost rewritten parts of it since I came home [from Europe] this summer.”[44] During the first week of October, the page proofs of the book were being readied. Perkins, daunted by the extensive galley revisions, told Fitzgerald that he would send along the page proofs “but you will not need to read them very carefully unless you wish to. Just look them over.”[45]

The major rewriting Fitzgerald did in galley proof was in “Symposium” (Book II, chapter 2), particularly on Maury Noble’s soliloquy there.[46] Maury Noble plays a large role in the first two sections of The Beautiful and Damned, and Fitzgerald’s revisions of Maury's big scene in “Symposium” are consistent with revisions he was making elsewhere. These changes reveal Fitzgerald pruning academic and literary discussions between his characters and replacing these with commentary of broad, almost metaphysical significance. Fitzgerald’s vision grows more bitter with each revision. Ironic in the manuscript version, Maury’s viewpoint becomes almost nihilistic in the Scribner edition.

In the manuscript and book versions, the setting is the same: as the glow from his friends’ cigarettes punctuates the dark night, Maury begins the story of his “education.” The beginning of his speech, up to Maury’s note, “I gave ear to Browning chatting, Byron declaiming, and Wordsworth droning,” is the same in manuscript and in print,[47] though in the published version some paragraphs have been reordered. For the rest of the speech, however, Fitzgerald made large cuts in the manuscript version and spliced together the material that remained with entirely new bridge passages.

In the Scribner edition, Maury comments that learning about the great literary figures “at least, did me no harm” because

I learned a little of beauty — enough to know that it had nothing to do with truth — and I found, moreover, that there was no great literary tradition; there was only the tradition of the eventful death of every literary tradition.[48]

Maury then speaks of the “first phase” of his education: his increasing boredom with life, the failure of philosophy to provide him a means to truth, and his skepticism, which failed to protect him from tragic identification with mortal humanity. In the “second phase” he rebelled against Christian determinism, and saw mankind as a race which, instead of producing a Superman, was providing sustenance to weaker and weaker human types. Maury then tells a kind of parable[49], the “moral” of which is that the Bible has been misconstrued, that it was meant as a satire “forever to mock the credulity of man.” Maury is attacking the “truth” as espoused by religious authority. In the Scribner edition, Maury’s speech concerns the meaninglessness of existence, the failure of any literary or philosophical system (and especially religion) to supplant the only truth, which Gloria voices: that “there’s no lesson to be learned from life.”

With the exception of a few single lines and one or two descriptions of settings, almost none of the printed text on pages 253 through 255 of the Scribner edition appears in the holograph manuscript, nor is Maury Noble’s “parable” included. In the manuscript, Maury’s subject is less a commentary on religion and the inadequacy of philosophical systems than it is a comment upon how the past can become a literary or social icon. He specifically attacks the literary academician who “could no more admit that Chaucer was dull reading than a butcher could come out as a militant vegetarian.”[50] In a deleted section of leaf 312, Maury notes that artistic authority traditionally has been given too much credit for enduring reputations. What really allows men’s reputations to survive is the realization of an earlier thesis they had formulated. Maury muses that the human species treasures that which it has historically maintained; likewise, artists’ works are prized when they are the culmination of an aesthetic idea, or are perceived to be so. That portion of an artist’s oeuvre that has no legacy or development will be ignored by later commentators.

This is a different Maury from the Maury in the Scribner edition. His tone in manuscript is much more dispassionate, his thesis less a social commentary. In the Scribner edition, anger underlies Maury’s words — anger born of frustrated effort to find meaning and of the inability to wash himself clean of hope. In the manuscript, however, Maury perceives a moral world — and, unlike the later Maury, he implies that his self-interest is aligned with evil. He notes, for instance, that upon his self-examination, evil seemed more appealing to him than good. This was manifested in his love of immediate selfgratification, but also in his preferences for the men, deeds, and attitudes in history that actively contradicted mainstream or “moral” ideals. Maury asserts that after being seduced in his youth by the Nietzschean ideal of man, he decides to behave counter to social mores or norms — even though he didn’t particularly want to do so or to become a martyred prophet/example to others as a result.[51]

By placing himself in a moral universe, Maury in manuscript can “decide” to go astray. His pose implies choice; he is, to some extent, in control of his actions. In the published book, by contrast, Maury does not have this choice; first duped by illusion, then hardened by boredom, and finally deceived by a belief in the ordering capacity of human intelligence, the later Maury describes an amoral, even alogical, universe. Thus, when in both texts Gloria observes that “there’s no lesson to be learned from life,” Maury’s agreement in the published version is much more appropriate.

The original manuscript and the Scribner edition show us the first and final versions of this scene. However, Fitzgerald did write an intervening version. Near the end of November 1921, after he had received galley proofs, Fitzgerald wrote as follows to Edmund Wilson:

I have almost completely rewritten my book. Do you remember you told me that in my midnight symposium scene I had sort of set the stage for a play that never came off— in other words when they all began to talk none of them had anything important to say. I’ve interpolated some recent ideas of my own and (possibly) of others. See enclosure at end of letter.[52]

Andrew Turnbull notes that “these enclosures included the greater part of Maury Noble’s monologue in the chapter called “Symposium.” Fitzgerald had rewritten the Maury Noble scene and evidently had turned Maury’s dispassionate observations into a highly charged, ironic commentary on the nature of religion and the Old Testament— especially the Song of Solomon and the Book of Ruth. Perkins, alert to public sensitivity to such material, advised that the section be cut in proof. Later he sent Fitzgerald a letter in which he noted,

I think almost every change you have made in “The Beautiful and Damned” has been a good one except that passage about the Bible… I don’t think it will go. Even when people are altogether wrong, you cannot but respect those who speak with passionate sincerity… What Maurey [sic] says is quite consistent with his character but this will seem to have been your point of view.[53]

Fitzgerald was incensed and shot back a reply, insinuating that Perkins was sacrificing art to appease public opinion. “If you object to my phrasing,” he wrote, “I could substitute ‘deity’ for ‘godalmighty’ & get a better word than bawdy — in fact make it more dignified — but I would hate to cut it out as its very clever in its way & Mencken — who saw it — and Zelda were very entheusiastic [sic] about it.”[54] In an oft-quoted reply, Perkins answered, “Don’t ever defer to my judgment.” Yet in a convincing way he argued that the tone, not the substance, of the scene was wrong: “You impair the effectiveness of the passage … by giving that quality of contempt.”[55] Later Fitzgerald became contrite and wrote a letter of apology to Perkins. He also made the changes Perkins requested, and the result was the scene as it appeared in the Scribner 1922 edition.

Only one more major revision occurred while The Beautiful and Damned was in page proof: the ending was changed. Matthew J. Bruccoli, in Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, presents the three endings of the novel — one for the manuscript, a second for the serial, and a third for the published book. In the manuscript version. Beauty returns to Paradise. The scene in the manuscript follows Anthony’s pronouncement, aboard the Berengoria, that concludes the published edition: “‘I showed them,’ he was saying. ‘It was a hard fight, but I didn’t give up and I came through!’”[56] In manuscript, the narrative continues:

That exquisite heavenly irony which has tabulated the demise of many generations of sparrows doubtless recorded the subtlest verbal inflection made upon such as the Omperator [Berengoria]. And unquestioningly the all-seeing Eyes must have been present at a certain place in Paradise something over a year before — where Beauty, who was born anew every hundred years, came back from earth into a sort of outdoor waiting room through which blew gusts of white wind and occasionally a breathless hurried star. The stars greeted her intimately as they went by and the winds made a soft welcoming flurry in her hair. Sighing, she began a conversation with a voice that was in the white wind.

“Back again,” the voice whispered.


“After fifteen years.”


The voice hesitated.

“How remote you are,” it said. “Unstirred … you seem to have no heart. How about the little girl? The glory of her eyes is gone —”

But Beauty had forgotten long ago.

In an effort to strengthen the structural unity of the novel, Fitzgerald completes the “Beauty in Paradise” scene he had introduced earlier. The scene also unifies the characters of the novel. Beauty’s abstraction and isolation become correlatives to the same qualities in Maury Noble, who sits alone on the train platform and who “was sorry for no one now;” in Gloria, who “to create souls in men, to create fine happiness and fine despair … must remain proud;” in Anthony, at the end of the novel, “concerned with a series of reminiscences.” Self-absorption binds and paradoxically isolates all characters in The Beautiful and Damned. But while the manuscript ending tries to bring this paradox to the fore, it actually undermines the irony of the story. It shifts the focus from Anthony and the “real” world, where irony and paradox reign, to the “abstract” ethereal world, where irony, when time is infinite, becomes irrelevant. In its way, the manuscript ending is reminiscent of the open ending to Fitzgerald’s first novel. The manuscript ending of The Beautiful and Damned also recalls the sentimental narrative voice that had earlier spoken through Maury Noble and which had commented on Anthony and Gloria’s dilemma in “Panic” — a voice Fitzgerald was consistently revising out of the novel.

Unfortunately, when he rewrote the ending for the Metropolitan serialization, Fitzgerald moved from dramatic melodrama to romantic sentimentality:

In the search for happiness, which search is the greatest and possibly the only crime of which we in our petty misery are capable, these two people were marked as guilty chiefly by the freshness and fulness [sic] of their desire… Their fault was not that they had doubted but that they had believed.

Zelda Fitzgerald told her husband that the magazine ending was a “piece of morality,”[57] and her comment had an effect. After wiring Perkins for his opinion, Fitzgerald changed the ending once again. He kept the first sentence of the original (as he had in the Metropolitan ending), changed the name of the ship on which Gloria and Anthony sailed, and let Anthony’s words resonate in the final lines of the book. A good stroke of revision, the change allows the readers, on their own, to perceive the heavy irony of Anthony’s “triumph” without the distraction of a mediating narrative voice.


By examining the holograph manuscript of The Beautiful and Damned and comparing it to the first edition, one can see Fitzgerald carefully revising both narrative point of view and characterization throughout the text. As he wrote the holograph draft he became increasingly concerned with structure and form; he showed the earliest versions of the novel to at least two readers before he sent the typescript setting copy to Perkins; and, unsatisfied with the ending of the novel, he rewrote it at least twice. While The Beautiful and Damned is not Fitzgerald’s best novel, it was not a hasty endeavor. In his Notebooks, Fitzgerald wrote, “I can never remember the times when I wrote anything — This Side of Paradise time or Beautiful and Damned and Gatsby time for instance. Lived in story.”[58] Even more might be done to see how Fitzgerald “lived” in The Beautiful and Damned. Such study would help us not only to understand Fitzgerald’s intentions in his second novel, but also to learn more about his development as an artist.


[1] F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922). The autograph and typewritten manuscript, with the author's corrections, is in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers. Princeton University Library, Box 3.

[2] In September 1920, Fitzgerald wrote to Shane Leslie. “I am now working on my second novel — much more objective this time and hence much harder sledding. But the bourgeoisie are going to stare! … I'm taking your advice and writing very slowly and paying much attention to form. Sometimes I think that this new novel has nothing much else but form.” The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Andrew Turnbull (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1963). p. 377. Hereafter cited as Letters.

[3] Letters, p. 141. Perkins associated this title with Samuel Butler, and wrote back on the 23rd that the novel “sounds good” and that “everybody ought to read Samuel Butler's Note Books”; Editor to Author, the Letters of Maxwell Perkins, ed. John Hall Wheelock (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1950), p. 22. Fitzgerald would use “The Demon Lover” as the tide of Dick Caramel's first book in Eke Beautiful and Damned, and the original epigraph in the holograph manuscript is taken front Butler: “Life is one long process of getting tired.” This epigraph was not used in the Scribner edition.

[4] Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli and Margaret M. Duggan (New York: Random House, 198o), p. 78. Hereafter cited as Correspondence. The title page of the holograph manuscript indicates other titles Fitzgerald was considering for his novel. These titles are, in order as listed, “'The House of Pain.” “Misfortune Street,” “The Beautiful and Damned,” “O, Beautiful,” “The Broken Lute.” “The Corruption of Anthony,” “A Love Affair,” and “Corruption.”

[5] Reprinted in F. Scott Fitzgerald:  The Critical Reception, ed. Jackson R. Bryer (New York: Burt Franklin & Co., 1978), pp. 110-111.

[6] Page 147 of the Scribner edition. Hereafter all citations from The Beautiful and Damned will refer to this edition.

[7] Fitzgerald was writing with an image of his new bride always in his mind. For instance, in 1920 he writes to Phyllis Duganne Parker that “ 'Rosalind' [in This Side of Paradise] is really flesh and blood — I married her eventually and am now writing a very much better + more 'honest' book about her;” Correspondence, p. 71. Edmund Wilson recognized this when he noted that Fitzgerald's second novel was “all about hint and Zelda;” Letters on Literature and Politics, ed. Elena Wilson (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1977), p. 56.

[8] As quoted by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Some Sort of Epic  Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981). p. 155.

[9] Scribner edition, p. 146.

[10] Letters, p. 145.

[11] Dear Scott / Dear Max; The Fitzgerald-Perkins Correspondence, ed. John Kuehl and Jackson R. Bryer (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 32. Hereafter cited as Dear Scott / Dear Max.

[12] If Fitzgerald had retained this title, the focus of the book would have been Gloria, the beautiful lady. By changing the title to The Beautiful and Damned,  Fitzgerald widened the scope of the novel. The beautiful and damned include not only Gloria and Anthony, but all the characters who appear in the novel.

[13] As Ever, Scott Fitz —; Letters Between F. Scott Fitzgerald and His Literary Agent, Harold Ober, 1919-1940, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli (Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1972). p. 21.

[14] Bruccoli, ed., As Ever, Scott Fitz. p. 22.

[15] Correspondence, p. 81.

[16] Wilson, ed., Letters on Literature and Politics, p. 56.

[17] Wilson, ed., Letters on Literature and Politics, p. 57.

[18] Dear Scott / Dear Max, p. 35.

[19] The brackets here and below indicate that the word, scratched out heavily in pencil, is either unreadable or not entirely clear.

[20] Dear Scott / Dear Max, p. 35.

[21] As Ever, Scott Fitz —, p. 23.

[22] In “Literary Libels— Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald,” Daily News (St. Paul, Minnesota), 5 March 1922, 12 March 1922, 19 March 1922), Thomas A. Boyd records a conversation with Fitzgerald concerning the Metropolitan serial of The Beautiful and Damned. Fitzgerald showed the manuscript of the novel to Boyd: after reading the first chapter, Boyd protested that the manuscript version was better than the Metropolitan version he had read. Fitzgerald's only comment was, “Well … they bought the rights to do anything they like with it when they paid for it.” Reprinted in F. Scott Fitzgerald in His Own Time: A Miscellany, cd. Matthew J. Bruccoli and Jackson R. Bryer (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1971), p. 250.

[23] Scribner edition, pp. 17-19.

[24] Hovey cut much of the description that appears in the Scribner edition, pages 7 and 8, 8 through 9, 25 through 26, and 31 through 32. When citing, below and in text, further cuts made by Hovey, I will refer to pages in the Scribner edition on which deleted material appears.

[25] For instance, material on pages 53 through 55, and on page 56.

[26] “Admiration,” pp. 67-73.

[27] There are numerous cuts made, for instance, in the section concerning Gloria's behavior with her “affianced” young men, page 80 in the Scribner edition.

[28] For example, material appearing on the following pages in the Scribner edition is omitted from the Metropolitan version: 131—133, 135—138, 149-151, 157-161, 173— 177, 185-191, 203-205, 209-215, 221-223, 224-228, 252-259, 276-280, 281-291, 295-306.

[29] For example, “Heyday” pp. 135—137, and “Gloria and General Lee,” pp. 165—167.

[30] Pages 148-150.

[31] Page 193.

[32] Pages 203—205.

[33] Pages 209-215.

[34] Pages 234-235.

[35] “Con Amore,” pp. 157-161.

[36] Pages 226-228.

[37] Page 108.

[38] As, for instance, details of Anthony and Gloria’s revels on pages 221—223, 224— 228, 232, and 235.

[39] Pages 313-318, 329-332, 335-339.

[40] Pages 344—345, 364—365.

[41] “No Matter!” pp. 405—414.

[42] As Ever, Scott Fitz —, p. 28.

[43] Correspondence, p. 87.

[44] As Ever, Scott Fitz —, p. 31.

[45] Dear Scott / Dear Max, p. 43.

[46] Pages 108-117 in the manuscript.

[47] Scribner edition, pp. 252- 253.

[48] Page 253.

[49] Scribner edition, pp. 257-258.

[50] Page 110 in the manuscript.

[51] Page 112 in the manuscript.

[52] Letters, pp. 327-328.

[53] Dear Scott / Dear Max, p. 45.

[54] Dear Scott / Dear Max, p. 46.

[55] Dear Scott / Dear Max, p. 48.

[56] Page 449 in the Scribner edition.

[57] Correspondence, p. 89.

[58] The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. by Mathew J. Bruccoli (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978), p. 159.

Published in Princeton University Library Chronicle magazine (Volume LI, Number 3, Spring 1990).