Scott Fitzgerald's Notebooks
(from The Crack-Up)


"Books are like brothers. I am an only child. Gatsby my imaginary brother, Amory my younger, Anthony my worry. Dick my comparatively good brother but all of them far from home. When I have the courage to put the old white light on the home of my heart, then--"

"I look out at it and I think it is the most beautiful history in the world. . . . It is the history of all aspiration not just the American dream but the human dream and if I came at the end of it that too is a place in the line of the pioneers". (p. 332)

"Action is character." (note to Last Tycoon) (p. 332)

Art invariably grows out of a period when, in general, the artist admires his own nation and wants to win its approval. . . . The greatest grow out of these periods as the tall heads of the crop."

"France was a land, England was a people, but America having about it still that quality of idea, was harder to utter--it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of the heart."

I —IDEAS

Story of a man trying to live down his crazy past and encountering it everywhere.

A tree, finding water, pierces roof and solves a mystery.

Father teaches son to gamble on fixed machine; later the son unconsciously loses his girl on it.

A criminal confesses his crime methods to a reformer, who uses them that same night

Girl and giraffe.

Marionettes during dinner party meeting and kissing

Play opens with man run over.

Play about a whole lot of old people —terrible things happen to them and they don’t really care.

The man who killed the idea of tanks in England —his after life.

Play: The Office —an orgy after hours during the boom.

A bat chase. Some desperate young people apply for jobs at Camp, knowing nothing about wood lore but pretending, each one.

The Tyrant Who Had To Let His Family Have Their Way For One Day.

The Dancer Who Found She Could Fly.

There was once a moving picture magnate who was shipwrecked on a desert island with nothing but two dozen cans of film.

Angered by a hundred rejection slips, he wrote an extraordinarily good story and sold it privately to twenty different magazines. Within a single fortnight it was thrust twenty times upon the public. The headstone was contributed by the Authors’ League.

Driving over the rooftops on a bet.

Girl whose ear is so sensitive she can hear radio. Man gets her out of insane asylum to use her.

Boredom is not an end-product, is comparatively rather an early stage in life and art. You’ve got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges.

A man hates to be a prince, goes to Hollywood and has to play nothing but princes. Or a general —the same.

Girl marries a dissipated man and keeps him in healthy seclusion. She meanwhile grows restless and raises hell on the side.

J —JINGLES AND SONGS.

ONE SOUTHERN GIRL

Lolling down on the edge of time
Where the flower months fade as the days move over,
Days that are long like lazy rhyme,
Nights that are pale with the moon and the clover,
Summer there is a dream of summer
Rich with dusks for a lover’s food —
Who is the harlequin, who is the mummer,
You or time or the multitude?


Still does your hair’s gold light the ground
And dazzle the blind till their old ghosts rise?
Then, all you care to find being found,
Are you yet kind to their hungry eyes?
Part of a song, a remembered glory -
Say there’s one rose that lives and might
Whisper the fragments of our story:
Kisses, a lazy street —and night

FOR A LONG ILLNESS

Where did we store the summer of our love?
Come here and help me find it.
Search as I may there is no trove,
Only a dusty last year’s calendar.
Without your breath in my ear,
Your light in my eye to blind it,
I cannot see in the dark.
Oh, tender
Was your touch in spring, your barefoot voice —
In August we should find graver music and rejoice.


A long Provence of time we saw
For the end —to march together
Through the white dust.
The wines are raw —
Still that we will drink
In the groves by the old walls in the old weather.
Two who were hurt in the first dawn
Of battle; first to be whole again (let’s think)
If the wars grow faint, sweep over…
Come, we will rest in the shade of the Invalides, the lawn
Where there is luck only in three-leaf clover.

THOUSAND-AND-FIRST SHIP

In the fall of sixteen
In the cool of the afternoon
I saw Helena
Under a white moon —
I heard Helena
In a haunted doze
Say: “I know a gay place
Nobody knows.”


Her voice promised
She’d live with me there,
She’d bring everything -
I needn’t care:
Patches to mend my clothes
When they were torn,
Sunshine from Maryland,
Where I was born.


My kind of weather,
As wild as wild,
And a funny book
I wanted as a child;
Sugar and, you know,
Reason and Rhyme,
And water like water
I had one time.


There’d be an orchestra
Bingo! Bango!
Playing for us
To dance the tango,
And people would clap
When we arose,
At her sweet face
And my new clothes.


But more than all this
Was the promise she made
That nothing, nothing,
Ever would fade —
Nothing would fade
Winter or fall,
Nothing would fade,
Practically nothing at all.


Helena went off
And married another,
She may be dead
Or some man’s mother.
I have no grief left
But I’d like to know
If she took him
Where she promised we’d go.

CLAY FEET

Clear in the morning I can see them sometimes:
Men, gods and ghosts, slim girls and graces —
Then the light grows, noon burns, and soon there come times
When I see but the pale and ravaged places
Their glory long ago adorned. —And seeing
My whole soul falters as an invalid
Too often cheered. Did something in their being
Of worth go from them when my ideal did?


Men, gods and ghosts, cast down by that young damning,
You have no answer; I but heard you say,
“Why, we are weak. We failed a bit in shamming.”
— So I am free! Will freedom always weigh
So much around my heart? For your defection,
Break! You who had me in your keeping, break! Fall
From that great height to this great imperfection!
Yet I must weep. —Yet can I hate you all?

FIRST LOVE*

All my ways she wove of light,
Wove them all alive,
Made them warm and beauty bright…
So the trembling ambient air
Clothes the golden waters where
The pearl fishers dive.


When she wept and begged a kiss
Very close I’d hold her,
And I know so well in this
Fine fierce joy of memory
She was very young like me
Though half an aeon older.


Once she kissed me very long,
Tiptoed out the door,
Left me, took her light along,
Faded as a music fades…
Then I saw the changing shades,
Color-blind no more.

* Earlier versions of First Love, The Pope at Confession and Marching Streets appeared in A Book of Princeton Verse II, 1909, published by the Princeton University Press. First Love was there called My First Love.

THE POPE AT CONFESSION

The gorgeous Vatican was steeped in night,
The organs trembled on my heart no more,
But with a blend of colors on my sight
I loitered through a somber corridor;
When suddenly I heard behind a screen
The faintest whisper as from one in prayer;
I glanced about, then passed, for I had seen
A hushed, dim-lighted room —and two were there.
A ragged friar, half in dream’s embrace,
Leaned sideways, soul intent, as if to seize
The last grey ice of sin that ached to melt
And faltered from the lips of him who knelt,
A little bent old man upon his knees
With pain and sorrow in his holy face.

MARCHING STREETS

Death shrouds the moon and the long dark deepens,
Hastens to the city, to the great stone heaps,
Blinds all eyes and lingers on the corners,
Whispers on the corners that the last soul sleeps.


Gay grow the streets now, torched by yellow lamp-light,
March all directions with a staid, slow tread;
East West they wander through the sodden city,
Rattle on the windows like the wan-faced dead.


Ears full of throbbing, a babe awakens startled,
Lends a tiny whimper to the still, dark doom;
Arms of the mother tighten round it gently,
Deaf to the marching in the far-flung gloom.


Old streets hoary with dead men’s footsteps,
Scarred with the coach-wheels of a gold old age;
Young streets, sand-white, fresh-cemented, soulless,
Virgin with the pallor of the fresh-cut page.


Black mews and alleys, stealthy-eyed and tearless,
Shoes patched and coats torn, torn and dirty old;
Mire-stained and winding, poor streets and weary,
Trudge along with curses, harsh as icy cold.


White lanes and pink lanes, strung with purple roses,
Dancing from a meadow, weaving from a hill,
Beckoning the boy streets with stray smiles wanton,
Strung with purple roses that the dawn must chill.


Soon will they meet, tiptoe on the corners,
Kiss behind the foliage of the leaf-filled dark.
Avenues and highroads, bridlepaths and parkways,
All must trace the pattern that the street-lamps mark.


Steps stop sharp! A clamor and a running!
Light upon the corner spills the milk of dawn.
Now the lamps are fading and a blue-winged silence
Settles like a swallow on a dew-drenched lawn.

LAMP IN THE WINDOW*

Do you remember, before keys turned in the locks,
When life was a close-up, and not an occasional letter,
That I hated to swim naked from the rocks
While you liked absolutely nothing better?


Do you remember many hotel bureaus that had
Only three drawers? But the only bother
Was that each of us got holy, then got mad
Trying to give the third one to the other.


East, west, the little car turned, often wrong
Up an erroneous Alp, an unmapped Savoy river.
We blamed each other, wild were our words and strong,
And, in an hour, laughed and called it liver.


And, though the end was desolate and unkind:
To turn the calendar at June and find December
On the next leaf; still, stupid-got with grief, I find
These are the only quarrels that I can remember.
* This poem appeared in the New Yorker of March 23, 1935, from which it is reprinted here. Fitzgerald did not include it in his note-books, but indicated that he wanted to correct the third line of the second stanza to read as above.

SAD CATASTROPHE

We don’t want visitors, we said:
They come and sit for hours and hours;
They come when we have gone to bed;
They are imprisoned here by showers;
They come when they are low and bored -
Drink from the bottle of your heart.
Once it is emptied, the gay horde,
Shouting the Rubaiyat, depart.


I balked: I was at work, I cried;
Appeared unshaven or not at all;
Was out of gin; the cook had died
Of small-pox —and more tales as tall.
On boor and friend I turned the same
Dull eye, the same impatient tone —
The ones with beauty, sense and fame
Perceived we wished to be alone.


But dull folk, dreary ones and rude -
Long talker, lonely soul and quack —
Who hereto hadn’t dare intrude,
Found us alone, swarmed to attack,
Thought silence was attention; rage
An echo of their own home’s war —
Glad we had ceased to ‘be upstage.’
—But the nice people came no more.

OUR APRIL LETTER

This is April again. Roller skates rain slowly down the street.
Your voice far away on the phone.
Once I would have jumped like a clown through a hoop —but.
“Then the area of infection has increased? … Oh … What can I expect after all —I’ve had worse shocks, anyhow, I know and that’s something.” (Like hell it is, but it’s what you say to an X-ray doctor.)
Then the past whispering faint now on another phone:
“Is there any change?”
“Little or no change.“
“I see.”


The roller skates rain down the streets,
The black cars shine between the leaves,
Your voice far away:
“I am going with my daughter to the country. My husband left today… No he knows nothing.”
“Good.”
I have asked a lot of my emotions —one hundred and twenty stories. The price was high, right up with Kipling, because there was one little drop of something —not blood, not a tear, not my seed, but me more intimately than these, in every story, it was the extra I had. Now it has gone and I am just like you now.
Once the phial was full —here is the bottle it came in.
Hold on, there’s a drop left there … No, it was just the way the light fell.
But your voice on the telephone. If I hadn’t abused words so, what you said might have meant something. But one hundred and twenty stories…
April evening spreads over everything, the purple blur left by a child who has used the whole paint-box.

FRAGMENT

Every time I blow my nose I think of you
And the mellow noise it makes
Says I’ll be true —
With beers and wines
With Gertrude Steins,
With all of that
I’m through -
’Cause every time I blow my no-o-ose
I —think —of —you.

Given at his birth a spoonful of noxema just brought from Palestine.

One can do little more than deny the persistent rumors that hover about him; for instance that he was born in a mole cave near Schenectady, in a state of life-long coma- conversely, that his father was a certain well-known international munitions manufacturer of pop-guns, a notorious blatherskite who earned a precarious living in the dives of Zion City or, as others say, a line coach at a famous correspondence school.

Simile about paper they paste on glass during building.

I have never wished there was a God to call on —I have often wished there was a God to thank.

“Sure —you did a sequence for Collins with a watch face and some little cardboard silhouettes. It was very interesting.”

Better Hollywood’s bizarre variations on the normal, with **** **** on the phone ordering twelve girls for dinner, none over eighteen.

We’ll find you a pooch that’ll say ‘Arp.’

Dive back, Aphrodite, dive back and try for the fish undersea.

The blue-green unalterable dream.

A day full of imaginary telegrams.

Wit born in darkness of college movie houses.

The “Wyn” in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Explain its presence.

I think I’d better go out and stay too long —don’t you?

At two-thirty this afternoon the Countess of Frejus will be fired out of this cannon.

Antibes before the merchants came.

I may as well spend this money now. Hell, I may never get it.

TURKEY REMAINS AND HOW TO INTER THEM WITH NUMEROUS SCARCE RECIPES

At this post holiday season, the refrigerators of the nation are overstuffed with large masses of turkey, the sight of which is calculated to give an adult an attack of dizziness. It seems, therefore, an appropriate time to give the owners the benefit of my experience as an old gourmet, in using this surplus material. Some of the recipes have been in the family for generations. (This usually occurs when rigor mortis sets in.) They were collected over years, from old cook books, yellowed diaries of the Pilgrim Fathers, mail order catalogues, golf-bats and trash cans. Not one but has been tried and proven —there are headstones all over America to testify to the fact.

Very well then: here goes:

1. Turkey Cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of angostura bitters. Shake.

2. Turkey a la Francaise: Take a large ripe turkey, prepare as for basting and stuff with old watches and chains and monkey meat. Proceed as with cottage pudding.

3. Turkey and Water: Take one turkey and one pan of water. Heat the latter to the boiling point and then put in the refrigerator. When it has jelled, drown the turkey in it. Eat In preparing this recipe it is best to have a few ham sandwiches around in case things go wrong.

4. Turkey Mongole: Take three butts of salami and a large turkey skeleton, from which the feathers and natural stuffing have been removed. Lay them out on the table and call up some Mongole in the neighborhood to tell you how to proceed from there.

5. Turkey Mousse: Seed a large prone turkey, being careful to remove the bones, flesh, fins, gravy, etc. Blow up with a bicycle pump. Mount in becoming style and hang in the front hall.

6. Stolen Turkey: Walk quickly from the market, and, if accosted, remark with a laugh that it had just flown into your arms and you hadn’t noticed it Then drop the turkey with the white of one egg —well, anyhow, beat it

7. Turkey a la Creme: Prepare the creme a day in advance. Deluge the turkey with it and cook for six days over a blast furnace. Wrap in fly paper and serve.

8. Turkey Hash: This is the delight of all connoisseurs of the holiday beast, but few understand how really to prepare it like a lobster, it must be plunged alive into boiling water, until it becomes bright red or purple or something, and then before the color fades, placed quickly in a washing machine and allowed to stew in its own gore as it is whirled around. Only then is it ready for hash. To hash, take a large sharp tool like a nail-file or, if none is handy, a bayonet will serve the purpose —and then get at it! Hash it well! Bind the remains with dental floss and serve.

9. Feathered Turkey: To prepare this, a turkey is necessary and a one pounder cannon to compel anyone to eat it. Broil the feathers and stuff with sage-brush, old clothes, almost anything you can dig up. Then sit down and simmer. The feathers are to be eaten like artichokes (and this is not to be confused with the old Roman custom of tickling the throat.)

10. Turkey a la Maryland: Take a plump turkey to a barber’s and have him shaved, or if a female bird, given a facial and a water wave. Then, before killing him, stuff with old newspapers and put him to roost He can then be served hot or raw, usually with a thick gravy of mineral oil and rubbing alcohol. (Note: This recipe was given me by an old black mammy.)

11. Turkey Remnant: This is one of the most useful recipes for, though not “chic,” it tells us what to do with turkey after the holiday, and how to extract the most value from it Take the remnants, or, if they have been consumed, take the various plates on which the turkey or its parts have rested and stew them for two hours in milk of magnesia. Stuff with moth-balls.

12. Turkey with Whiskey Sauce: This recipe is for a party of four. Obtain a gallon of whiskey, and allow it to age for several hours. Then serve, allowing one quart for each guest The next day the turkey should be added, little by little, constantly stirring and basting.

13. For Weddings or Funerals: Obtain a gross of small white boxes such as are used for bride’s cake. Cut the turkey into small squares, roast, stuff, kill, boil, bake and allow to skewer. Now we are ready to begin. Fill each box with a quantity of soup stock and pile in a handy place. As the liquid elapses, the prepared turkey is added until the guests arrive. The boxes delicately tied with white ribbons are then placed in the handbags of the ladies, or in the men’s side pockets.

There I guess that’s enough turkey talk. I hope I’ll never see or hear of another until —well, until next year.

O —OBSERVATIONS

* * * * trying to carry with him the good of every age —one must discard, no matter from how unworthy a motive. Trying to see good in everyone, he saw only his own good.


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