The Far-seeing Skeptics
by Scott Fitzgerald

Once upon a time all the men of mind and genius in the world became of one belief-that is to say, of no belief. But it wearied them to think that within a few years after their death many cults and systems and prognostications would be ascribed to them which they had never meditated nor intended. So they said to one another:

“Let's join together and make a great book that will last forever to mock the credulity of man. Let's persuade our most erotic poets to write about the delights of the flesh, and induce some of our robust journalists to contribute bawdy stories of famous amours. We'll include all the most preposterous old wives' tales now current. We'll choose the keenest satirist alive to compile a godalmighty from all the godalmighties worshipped by mankind, a godalmighty who will be so exaggerated, and yet so weakly human, that he'll become a simile for silly the world over-and in addition we'll ascribe to him all sorts of jokes and vanities and rages in which he'll be supposed to indulge for his own diversion, so that the people will read our book and chuckle and there'll be no more nonsense in the world.

“Finally, let us take care that the book possesses all the virtues of style, so that it may last forever as a witness to our profound skepticism and our universal irony.”

So the men did, and they died.

But the book lived always, so beautifully had it been written and so astounding the quality of imagination with which these men of mind and genius had endowed it. They had neglected to give it a name, but after they were dead it became known as the Bible.


This is Mory's passage from Chapter “Symposium” of The Beautiful and Damned novel.

Published in The Smart Set magazine (February 1922).

No illustrations.