This Side Of Paradise: Preface
by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Princeton version:

Preface

Two years ago when I was a very young man indeed, I had an unmistakable urge to write a book. It was to be a picturesque novel, original in form and alternating a melancholy, naturalistic egotism with a picture of the generation then hastening to war.

It was to be naive in places, shocking in others, painful to the conventional and not without it’s touch of ironic sublimity. The “leading character”, a loiterer on the borderland of genius, loved many woman, and gazed at himself in many mirrors—in fact, women and mirrors were preponderant on all the important pages.

I completed it during the last gasp of a last year at college, and the intricacies of a training camp. It’s epigrams were polished by the substitution of the word one for the word you; it’s chapter titles were phrased to sound somewhat like lines from Pre-Raphaelite poems, somewhat like the electric signs over musical comedies; the book itself was a tedius casserole of a dozen by McKenzie, Wells and Robert Hugh Benson, largely flavored by the great undigested butter-ball of Dorian Gray.

The conservative publisher to whom I sent it kept it for several months and finally returned it with the complaint that the hero failed in the end to find himself, and that this defection would so certainly disappoint the reader as to predestine the book to failure.

He suggested that I remedy this and I pondered the difficulty for several weeks—how I could intrigue the hero into a “philosophy of life” when my own ideas were in much the state of Alice’s after the hatter’s tea-party.

At length I took a tip from Schoepenhaur, Hugh Walpole and even the early Wells—begged the question by plunging boldly into obscurity; astounded myself with an impenetrable chapter where I left the hero alone with rhapsodic winds and hyper-significant stars—; gemmed the paragraphs with neo-symbolic bits culled from my own dismantled poems—such awe-inspiring half-lines as

* * * * the dark celibacy of greatness * * * Youth, the Queen Anne clavichord from which age wrings the symphony of art * * * the tired pitying beauty of monotony that hung like summer air over the gate to his soul * * *

And finding that I had merely dragged the hero from a logical muddle into an illogical one, I dispatched him to the war and callously slew him several thousand feet in the air, whence he fell “not like a dead bird, but as a splendid life-bound swallow * * * * down * * * * down * * * * ”

The book finished with four dots—there was a fifth dot but I erased it.

After two months it was again refused. The conservative publisher was, however, optimistic enough to send it to a more radical competitor, who specialized in leading out the new Slavic novelists and giving free air to experiments in Celtic phrasing. This publisher did not even faintly consider it.

The war over, I slumped into a mental lethargy in the misty depths of which I searched for the causes of my book’s failure and eventually discovered the root of the trouble. All I had written of things I was interested in: THE INFLUENCE OF NIGHT, RATHER BAD WOMEN, PERSONALITY, FANATICISM, THE SUPERNATURAL, and VERY GOOD WOMEN, was quite above the average.

All I had written of subjects with which I was thoroughly cognizant: THE “PREP” SCHOOL, COLLEGE, THE MIDDLE WEST, NATURE, QUAINT STUPID PEOPLE, and MYSELF, was, because I was quite bored with all of them, well below the average.

My course was obvious, my inspiration was immediate. Virtuously resisting the modern writer’s tendency to dramatize himself, I began another novel; whether it’s hero really “gets anywhere” is for the reader to decide.

For bait to the hesitant I hold out the promise that the words passion, moonlight, era and God occur many times; the words shimee, debutante and mystic with less frequency.

Resisting a temptation to dedicate it either to a certain prelate—who would quite possibly be exhumed and excommunicated—or, throwing quite aside, to “myself, with love and affection”, I offer it to all those argumentative, discoursive souls who once frequented a certain inn whose doors are now dark, whose tabled walls ring no more to the melody of Chaucer’s lesser known poems.

F. Scott Fitzgerald,
St. Paul, Minnesota,
Mid-August, 1919.


Ober version:

PREFACE TO “THIS SIDE OF PARADISE”
never used

Two years ago, when I was a very young man indeed, I had an unmistakable urge to write a book. It was to be a picaresque novel, original in form and alternating a melancholy, naturalistic egotism with a picture of the generation then hastening to war.

It was to be naive in places, shocking in others, painful to the conventional and not without its touch of ironic sublimity. The “leading character”, a loiterer on the borderland of genius, loved many women and gazed at himself in many mirrors—in fact, women and mirrors were preponderant in all the important scenes.

I completed it during the last gasp of a last year at college, and the intricacies of a training camp. Its epigrams were polished by the substitution of the word one for the word you; its chapter titles were phrased to sound somewhat like lines from pre-Raphaelite poems, somewhat like electric signs over musical comedies; the book itself was a tedius casserole of a dozen by McKenzie, Wells, and Robert Hugh Benson, largely flavored by the great undigested Butterball of Dorian Gray.

The conservative publisher to whom I sent it kept it for several months and finally returned it with the complaint that the hero failed in the end to find himself, and that this defection would so certainly disappoint the reader as to predestine the book to failure.

He suggested that I remedy this and I pondered the difficulty for several weeks—how I could intrigue the hero into a “philosophy of life” when my own ideas were in much the state of Alice’s after the hatter’s tea-party.

At length I took a tip from Schopenhauer, Hugh Walpole, and even the early Wells—begged the question by plunging boldly into obscurity; astounded myself with an impenetrable chapter where I left the hero alone with rhapsodic winds and hyper-significant stars: gemmed the paragraphs with neo-symbolistic bits culled from my own dismantled poems—such awe-inspiring half lines as ***the dark celibacy of greatness *** Youth, the Queen Anne Clavichord from which age wrings the symphony of art *** the tired pitying beauty of monotony that hung like summer air over the gate of his soul ***

And finding that I had merely dragged the hero from a logical muddle into an illogical one, I dispatched him to the war and callously slew him several thousand feet in the air, whence he fall “not like a dead but a splendid life-found swallow****down****down*****”

The book finished with four dots—there was a fifth but I erased it.

After two months it was again refused. The conservative publisher was, however, optimistic enough to send it to a more radical competitor, who specialized in leading out the new Slavic novelists and giving free air to expatrients in Celtic phrasing. This publisher did not even faintly consider it.

The war over, I slumped into a mental lethargy in the misty depths of which I searched for the causes of my book’s failure, and eventually discovered the root of the trouble. All I had written of things I was interested in: THE INFLUENCE OF NIGHT, RATHER BAD WOMEN, PERSONALITY, FANATICISM, THE SUPERNATURAL, and VERY GOOD WOMEN was quite above the average.

All I had written of subjects with which I was thoroughly cognizant: THE “PREP” SCHOOL, COLLEGE, THE MIDLLE WEST, NATURE, QUAINT STUPID PEOPLE, ana MYSELF was, because I was quite bored with all of them, well below average.

My course was obvious, my inspiration was immediate. Virtuously resisting the modern writer’s tendency to dramatize himself, I began another novel; whether its hero really “gets anywhere” is for the reader to decide.

For bait to the hesitant I hold out the promise that the words passion, moonlight, era and God occur many times; the words shimee, debutante and mystic with less frequency.

Resisting a temptation to dedicate it either to a certain prelate—who would quite possible be exhumed and excommunicated—or, throwing guile aside, to “myself, with love and affection”, I offer it to all those argumentative and discoursive souls who once frequented a certain inn whose doors are now dark, whose fabled walls ring no more to the melody of Chaucer’s lesser known poems.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
St. Paul, Minn.
Mid-August, 1919


Both textes taken from the manuscripts


Перевод: Предисловие (А.Б. Руднев)

Яндекс.Метрика