Fitzgerald’s novel was not finished in March 1929, but the Fitzgeralds gave up “Ellerslie” and went to France. The Hemingways were in Paris, and when Hemingway heard that the Fitzgeralds were definitely coming, he instructed Perkins not to give Fitzgerald his address. Scott got him thrown out of one Paris apartment by fighting with the landlord, pissing on the porch, and trying to break down the door at 3 or 4 a.m. Ernest wants to see Scott in public places but doesn’t want him in his apartment. The news that Scott is coming to Paris gives Ernest the horrors.
Expecting to see a great deal of Hemingway in Paris, Fitzgerald was hurt to find that Ernest’s address was kept from him; he was forced to communicate with Hemingway by sending messages c/o Pauline’s sister, Virginia. A list of “Snubs” Fitzgerald made in his Notebooks includes “Ernest apartment.” Fitzgerald’s eagerness to be with Hemingway is shown by this May 1929 note inviting the Hemingways to dinner:
Dear Herr Hemophile: or “Bleeding Boy” as I sometimes call you.
Will you take salt with us Sun. or Mon. night? would make great personal whoopee on reciept of favorable response. Send me a pneu or answer in person, save between 3 + 7, Highest references, willing to [tra]vel—gens du monde, cultivee, sympathetique cherche hote pour dimanche ou lundi—answer because I shall prob. ask Bishop, if you can come—he is new man without frau.
The encounters between Fitzgerald and Hemingway during spring-summer 1929 generated new strains from which their friendship never recovered. Fitzgerald was drinking heavily and was defensive about his unfinished novel—despite the optimistic reports he had sent Hemingway. The animosity between Zelda and Ernest was compounded by Pauline’s disapproval of the Fitzgeralds. Fitzgerald had other reasons to be unhappy besides his guilt about his work. His marriage was becoming increasingly troubled. Zelda’s intense ballet efforts in Paris left her strained and fatigued, and her behavior became markedly erratic. The Fitzgeralds were having sexual problems. Fitzgerald complained of her indifference, and Zelda countercharged that he was an unsatisfactory lover. It was probably at this time that Fitzgerald sought Hemingway’s sexual counsel. As recounted in “A Matter of Measurements” in A Moveable Feast, Fitzgerald set up a lunch at Michaud’s and told Hemingway that Zelda complained that his penis was too small to satisfy her. Ernest checked Scott’s anatomy in the toilet and assured him that the organ was normal. Scott remained unconvinced, so Ernest took him to the Louvre and showed him the nude male statues. Ernest advised Scott to recover his confidence by sleeping with another woman: “ ‘Forget what Zelda said’ I told him. ‘Zelda is crazy. There’s nothing wrong with you. Just have a little confidence and do what the girl wants. Zelda just wants to destroy you.’ “ Even though he obviously trusted Hemingway’s discretion, Fitzgerald should have realized that an admission of sexual insecurity would inevitably damage him with Hemingway. It is a gauge of Fitzgerald’s anxiety and his admiration for Hemingway’s masculine prowess that he sought his advice. After Feast was published, Arnold Gingrich and Sheilah Graham testified that Fitzgerald’s penis was normal. Gingrich, the editor of Esquire, had noticed it when Fitzgerald’s bathrobe fell open. Miss Graham was Fitzgerald’s lover during the last three years of his life.
Fitzgerald leaves the Louvre to meet some people at the Ritz Bar. Then Hemingway reports a conversation with Georges, the head barman at the Ritz, some twenty-five years later. Georges was puzzled by the tourists who asked him about “this Monsieur Fitzgerald,” whom he could not remember. In some way Hemingway regarded Fitzgerald’s sexual insecurity to be as significant as his failure to impress himself on the Ritz barman. (The best writing about the Ritz Bar is in Tender Is the Night and “Babylon Revisited.”)
Fitzgerald probably kept from Hemingway Zelda’s accusations that they were involved in a homosexual affair. When Fitzgerald had muttered “No more baby” in his drunken sleep after a meeting with Hemingway, Zelda interpreted it as proof of the liaison. Instead of dismissing Zelda’s charges, Fitzgerald apparently began to worry about his possible latent homosexuality—or at least was concerned about acquiring that reputation. The young Canadian novelist Morley Callaghan was in Paris in 1929, where he saw a good deal of both Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Callaghan was also a Scribners author, having been recommended to Perkins by both Fitzgerald and Hemingway. His memoir, That Summer in Paris (1963), includes this comment by Fitzgerald: “Remember the night I was in bad shape? I took your arm. Well, I dropped it. It was like holding a dead fish. You thought I was a fairy, didn’t you?”
In 1930 after Zelda had been hospitalized in Switzerland, Fitzgerald wrote a long analysis of their marriage in the form of a letter, but it is unlikely that he ever sent it to her.
Written with Zelda gone to the Clinique
I know this then—that those days when we came up from the south, from Capri, were among my happiest— but you were sick and the happiness was not in the home.
I had been unhappy for a long time then—When my play failed a year and a half before, when I worked so hard for a year, twelve stories and novel and four articles in that time with no one believing in me and no one to see except you + before the end your heart betraying me and then I was really alone with no one I liked In Rome we were dismal and was still working proof and three more stories and in Capri you were sick and there seemed to be nothing left of happiness in the world anywhere I looked.
Then we came to Paris and suddenly I realized that it hadn’t all been in vain. I was a success—the biggest man in my profession everybody admired me and I was proud I’d done such a good thing. I met Gerald and Sara who took us for friends now and Ernest who was an equeal and my kind of an idealist. I got drunk with him on the Left Bank in careless cafes and drank with Sara and Gerald in their garden in St Cloud but you were endlessly sick and at home everything was unhappy. We went to Antibes and I was happy but you were sick still and all that fall and that winter and spring at the cure and I was alone all the time and I had to get drunk before I could leave you so sick and not care and I was only happy a little before I got too drunk. Afterwards there were all the usuall penalties for being drunk.
Finally you got well in Juan-les-Pins and a lot of money came in and I made of those mistakes literary men make—I thought I was “a man of the world—that everybody liked me and admired me for myself but I only liked a few people like Ernest and Charlie McArthur and Gerald and Sara who were my peers. Time goes bye fast in those moods and nothing is ever done. I thought then that things came easily—I forgot how I’d dragged the Great Gatsby out of the pit of my stomach in a time of misery. I woke up in Hollywood no longer my egotistic, certain self but a mixture of Ernest in fine clothes and Gerald with a career—and Charlie McArthur with a past. Anybody that could make me believe that, like Lois Moran did, was precious to me.
Ellerslie, the polo people Mrs. Chandler the party for Cecelia were all attempts to make up from without for being undernourished now from within. Anything to be liked, to be reassured not that I was a man of a little genius but that I was a great man of the world. At the same time I knew it was nonsense—the part of me that knew it was nonsense brought us to the Rue Vaugirard.
But now you had gone into yourself just as I had four years before in St. Raphael—And there were all the consequences of bad appartments through your lack of patience (“Well, if you were [indecipherable] why don’t you make some money”) bad servants through your indifference (“Well, if you don’t like her why don’t you send Scotty away to school”) Your dislike for Vidor, your indifference to Joyce I understood—share your incessant entheusisam and absorbtion in the ballet I could not. Somewhere in there I had a sense of being exploited, not by you but by something I resented terribly no happiness. Certainly less than there had ever been at home—you were a phantom washing clothes, talking French bromides with Lucien or Del Plangue I remember desolate trips to Versaille to Rhiems, to La Baule undertaken in sheer weariness of home. I remember wondering why I kept working to pay the bills of this desolate menage. I had evolved. In despair I went from the extreme of isolation, which is to say isolation with Mlle Delplangue, or the Ritz Bar where I got back my self esteem for half an hour, often with someone I had hardly ever seen before. In the evenings sometimes you and I rode to the Bois in a cab—after awhile I preferred to go to Cafe de Lilas and sit there alone remembering what a happy time I had had there with Ernest, Hadley, Dorothy Parker + Benchley two years before. During all this time, remember I didn’t blame anyone but myself. I complained when the house got unbearable but after all I was not John Peale Bishop—I was paying for it with work, that I passionately hated and found more and more difficult to do. The novel was like a dream, daily farther and farther away.
Ellerslie was better and worse. Unhappiness is less acute when one lives with a certain sober dignity but the financial strain was too much. Between Sept when we left Paris and March when we reached Nice we were living at the rate of forty thousand a year.
But somehow I felt happier. Another spring—I would see Ernest whom I had launched, Gerald + Sarah Murphy who through my agency had been able to try the movies. At least life would less drab; there would be parties with people who offered something, conversations with people with something to say. Later swimming and getting tanned and young and being near the sea.
It worked out beautifully didn’t it. Gerald and Sara didn’t see us. Ernest and I met but it was a more irritable Ernest, apprehensively telling me his whereabouts lest I come in on them tight and endanger his lease. the discovery that half a dozen people were familiars there didn’t help my self esteem. By the time we reached the beautiful Rivierra I had developed such an inferiority complex that I couldn’t fase anyone unless I was tight. I worked there too, though, and the unusual combination exploded my lungs
You were gone now—I scarcely remember you that summer. You were simply one of all the people who disliked me or were indifferent to me. I didn’t like to think of you—You didn’t need me and it was easier to talk to or rather at Madame Bellois and keep full of wine. I was grateful when you came with me to the Doctors one afternoon but after we’d been a week in Paris and I didn’t try any more about living or dieing things were always the same. The appartments that were rotten, the maids that stank—the ballet before my eyes, spoiling a story to take the Troubetskoys to dinner, poisening a trip to Africa You were going crazy and calling it genius—I was going to ruin and calling it anything that came to hand. And I think everyone far enough away to see us outside of our glib presentation of ourselves guessed at your almost meglomaniacal selfishness and my insane indulgence in drink. Toward the end nothing much mattered. The nearest I ever came to leaving you was when you told me you thot I was a fairy in the Rue Palatine but now whatever you said aroused a sort of detached pity for you. Remember this For all your superior observation and your harder intelligence I have a faculty of guessing right without evidence even with a certain wonder as to why and whence that mental short cut came.
I wish the Beautiful and Damned had been a maturely written book because it was all true. We ruined ourselves—I have never honestly thought that we ruined each other.
At about the same time Zelda reviewed the deterioration of her marriage in a 42-page letter written to Fitzgerald from Prangins sanitarium in 1930. Describing the wretched Paris summers of 1928 and 1929, she blamed Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and indicated her resentment of Hemingway’s influence:
We lived in the rue de Vaugirard . You were constantly drunk. You didn’t work and were dragged home at night by taxi-drivers when you came home at all. You said it was my fault for dancing all day. What was I to do? You got up for lunch. You made no advances toward me and complained that I was un-responsive. You were literally eternally drunk the whole summer… You were angry when I wouldn’t go with you to Mont Matre. You brought drunken under-graduates in to meals when you came home for them, and it made you angry that I didn’t care any more… We came back to rue Palantine  and you, in a drunken stupor told me a lot of things that I only half understood: but I understood the dinner we had at Ernests’. Only I didn’t understand that it mattered. You left me more and more alone, and though you complained that it was the appartment or the servants or me, you know the real reason you couldn’t work was because you were always out half the night and you were sick and you drank constantly.
In 1929, as in 1926, Fitzgerald was eager to read Hemingway’s novel in typescript—and again Hemingway was reluctant to have him see it. Fitzgerald was allowed to preview A Farewell to Arms— probably in June 1929—only after it had been sent to Scribners. (A Farewell to Arms began appearing in installments in the May issue of Scribner’s Magazine.) Fitzgerald again responded with a long document, which was stronger than the one he had prepared for The Sun Also Rises.
114-121 is slow + needs cutting—it hasn’t the incisiveness of other short portraits in this book or in yr. other books. The characters too numerous + too much nailed down by gags. Please cut! There’s absolutely no psycholical justification in introducing those singers—its not even bizarre—if he got stewed with them + in consequence thrown from hospital it would be O.K. At least reduce it to a sharp + self sufficient vignette. It’s just rather gassy as it is, I think.
For example—your Englishman on the fishing trip in T.S.A.R. contributes to the tautness of waiting for Brett. You seem to have written this to try to “round out the picture of Milan during the war” during a less inspired moment.
(Arn’t the Croats Orthodox Greeks? or some Byzantine Christian Sect—Surely they’re not predominantly Mohamedens + you can’t say their not Christians
P. 124 et sequitur
This is definately dull—it’s all right to say it was meant all the time + that a novel can’t have the finesse of a short story but this has got to. This scene as it is seems to me a shame.
Later I was astonished to find it was only about 750 wds. which only goes to show the pace you set yourself up to that point. Its dull because the war goes further + further out of sight every minute. “That’s the way it was” is no answer—this triumphant proof that races were fixed!
—I should put it as 400 word beginning to Chap XXI
Still later Read by itself it has points, but coming on it in the novel I still believe its dull + slow
Seems to me a last echo of the war very faint when Catherine is dying and he’s drinking beer in the Cafe.
Look over Switzerland stuff for cutting
This is a comedy scene that really becomes offensive for you’ve trained everyone to read every word—now you make them read the word cooked (+ fucked would be as bad) one dozen times. It has ceased to become amusing by the 5th, for they’re too packed, + yet the scene has possibilities. Reduced to five or six cooked it might have rythm like the word “wops” in one of your early sketches. You’re a little hypnotized by yourself here.
This could stand a good cutting. Sometimes these conversations with her take on a naive quality that wouldn’t please you in anyone else’s work. Have you read Noel Coward?
Some of its wonderful—about brave man 1000 deaths ect. Couldn’t you cut a little?
(ie. 2nd page numbered 129)
129 (NW) Now here’s a great scene—your comedy used as part of you + not as mere roll-up-my-sleeves = + pull-off a-tour-de-force as on pages 114-121
134 Remember the brave expectant illegitimate mother is an old situation + has been exploited by all sorts of people you won’t lower yourself to read—so be sure every line rings new + has some claim to being incarnated + inspired truth or you’ll have the boys apon you with scorn.
By the way—that buying the pistol is a wonderful scene.
Catherine is too glib, talks too much physically. In cutting their conversations cut some of her speeches rather than his. She is too glib—
I mean—you’re seeing him in a sophisticated way as now you see yourself then—but you’re still seeing her as you did in 1917 thru nineteen yr. old eyes. In consequence unless you make her a bit fatuous occasionally the contrast jars—either the writer is a simple fellow or she’s Eleanora Duse disguised as a Red Cross nurse. In one moment you expect her to prophecy the 2nd battle of the Marne— as you probably did then. Where’s that desperate, half-childish don’t-make-me think V.A.D. feeling you spoke to me about? It’s there—here—but cut to it! Don’t try to make her make sense—She probably didn’t!
In “Cat in the rain” + in the story about “That’s all we do isn’t it, go + try new drinks ect,” You were really listening to women—here you’re only listening to yourself, to your own mind beating out facily a sort of sense that isn’t really interesting, Ernest, nor really much except a sort of literary exercise—it seems to me that this ought to be thoroughly cut, even re-written.
(Our poor old friendship probably won’t survive this but there you are—better me than some nobody in the Literary Review that doesn’t care about you + your future.)
The book, by the way is between 80,000 + 100,000 wds—not 160,000 as you thought
P. 241 is one of the best pages you’ve ever written, I think
P 209- + 219 I think if you use word cocksuckers here the book will be suppressed + confiscated within two days of publication.
All this retreat is marvellous the confusion ect.
The scene from 218 on is the best in recent fiction
I think 293-294 need cutting but perhaps not to be cut altogether.
Why not end the book with that wonderful paragraph on P. 241. It is the most eloquent in the book + could end it rather gently + well.
A beautiful book it is!
Hemingway’s annotation—“Kiss my ass EH”—indicates that he was less than pleased by Fitzgerald’s critique, which came down hard on Catherine Barkley’s glibness and criticized her “brave, expectant, illegitimate mother role” as stale. Hemingway subsequently became convinced that Fitzgerald’s advice had been worthless and silly. Writing to Arthur Mizener, Fitzgerald’s first biographer, in 1951 Hemingway stated, “I have a letter in which he told me how to make A Farewell to Arms a successful book which included some fifty suggestions including eliminating the officer shooting the sergeant, and bringing in, actually and honestly to God, the U.S. Marines (Lt. Henry reads of their success at Belleau Woods while in the Cafe when Catherine is dying) at the end.” In 1953 Hemingway sent a report of Fitzgerald’s memo to Charles Poore, who was editing The Hemingway Reader, stating that Fitzgerald wanted him to incorporate the news of the Marines at Chateau-Thierry. It is possible that Fitzgerald may have made a suggestion about the Marines in conversation; but it is not in his memo. Perkins also felt that Hemingway should re-introduce the war at the end of the novel to combine the themes of love and war. He wrote on 24 May: “Still, I can’t shake off the feeling that war, which has deeply conditioned this love story—and does so still passively—should still do so actively and decisively.”
Although Hemingway later insisted that he had rejected Fitzgerald’s advice on A Farewell to Arms, he did act on the recommendation to cut Frederic Henry’s cosmic ruminations at the opening of Chapter 40 (typescript pages 293-294):
We had a fine life; all the things we did were of no importance and the things we said were foolish and seem even more idiotic to write down but we were happy and I suppose wisdom and happiness do not go together, although there is a wisdom in being a fool that we do not know much about and if happiness is an end sought by the wise it is no less an end if it comes without wisdom. It is as well to seize it as to seek it because you are liable to wear out the capacity for it in the seeking. To seek it through the kingdom of Heaven is a fine thing but you must give up this life first and if this life is all you have you might have remorse after giving it up and the kingdom of heaven might be a cold place in which to live with remorse. They say the only way you can keep a thing is to lose it and this may be true but I do not admire it. The only thing I know is that if you love anything enough they take it away from you. This may all be done in infinite wisdom but whoever does it is not my friend. I am afraid of God at night but I would have admired him more if he would have stopped the war or never let it start. Maybe he did stop it but whoever stopped it did not do it prettily. And if it is the Lord that giveth and the Lord that taketh away I do not admire him for taking Catherine away. He may have given me Catherine but who gave Rinaldi the syphillis at about the same time? The one thing I know is that I don’t know anything about it. I see the wisdom of the priest at our mess who has always loved God and so is happy and I am sure that nothing will ever take God away from him. But how much is wisdom and how much is luck to be born that way? And what if you are not built that way? What if the things you love are perishable? All you know then is that they will perish. You will perish too and perhaps that is the answer; that those who love things that are immortal and believe in them are immortal themselves and live on with them while those that love things that die and believe in them die and are as dead as the things they love. If that were true it would be a fine gift and would even things up. But it probably is not true. All that we can be sure of is that we are born and that we will die and that everything we love will die too. The more things with life that we love the more things there are to die. So if we want to buy winning tickets we can go over on the side of immortality; and finally they most of them do. But if you were born loving nothing and the warm milk of your mother’s breast was never heaven and the first thing you loved was the side of a hill and the last thing was a woman and they took her away and you did not want another but only to have her; and she was gone; then you are not so well placed and it would have been better to have loved God from the start. But you did not love God. And it doesn’t do any good to talk about it either. Nor to think about it.
This windy passage weakens the conclusion of the novel by announcing Catherine’s impending death.
Fitzgerald was unhappy with the original ending:
There are a great many more details, starting with my first meeting with an undertaker, and all the business of burial in a foreign country and going on with the rest of my life—which has gone on and seems likely to go on for a long time.
I could tell how Rinaldi was cured of the syphilis and lived to find that the technic learned in wartime surgery is not of much practial use in peace. I could tell how the priest in our mess lived to be a priest in Italy under Fascism. I could tell how Ettore became a Fascist and the part he took in that organization. I could tell how Piani got to be a taxi-driver in New York and what sort of a singer Simmons became. Many things have happened. Everything blunts and the world keeps on. It never stops. It only stops for you. Some of it stops while you are still alive. The rest goes on and you go with it.
I could tell you what I have done since March, nineteen hundred and eighteen, when I walked that night in the rain back to the hotel where Catherine and I had lived and went upstairs to our room and undressed and slept finally, because I was so tired—to wake in the morning with the sun shining in the window; then suddenly to realize what had happened. I could tell you what has happened since then, but that is the end of the story.
Hemingway tried out Fitzgerald’s advice to replace this groping material with Frederic Henry’s soliloquy from Chapter 34: “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Hemingway renumbered this page and inserted it in the typescript as the conclusion, but then changed his mind and restored it to its original position. Fitzgerald’s admiration for this passage is attested by Callaghan, who visited him while he was reading the typescript of A Farewell to Arms. Fitzgerald read the passage aloud with emotion. When Callaghan expressed the reservation that it was perhaps “too deliberate,” Fitzgerald was offended and began needling him about what it took to impress him. Finally he tried to stand on his head, asking if that would impress Callaghan.
There are thirty-five drafts for the ending of A Farewell to Arms among Hemingway’s papers. He finally wrote the published version with its controlled understatement:
Outside the room, in the hall, I spoke to the doctor, “is there anything I can do to-night?”
“No. There is nothing to do. Can I take you to your hotel?”
“No, thank you. I am going to stay here a while.”
“I know there is nothing to say. I cannot tell you----”
“No,” I said. “There’s nothing to say.”
“Good-night,” he said. “I cannot take you to your hotel?”
“No, thank you.”
“It was the only thing to do,” he said. “The operation proved——”
“I do not want to talk about it,” I said.
“I would like to take you to your hotel.”
“No, thank you.”
He went down the hall. I went to the door of the room.
“You can’t come in now,” one of the nurses said.
“Yes I can,” I said.
“You can’t come in yet.”
“You get out,” I said. “The other one too.”
But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.
June 1929 brought another strain on the vulnerable friendship between Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but the consequences were delayed. Hemingway had been boxing regularly in Paris with Morley Callaghan, whom he had known on the Toronto Star. Although Callaghan was four inches shorter than Hemingway, he had quick hands and was more than able to hold his own. Callaghan is one of the experienced boxers who have testified that Hemingway was a clumsy boxer. During one of their bouts Callaghan cut Hemingway’s mouth, and was dumfounded when Hemingway spat a mouthful of blood in his face. Hemingway explained that this was a bullfighter’s way of expressing contempt for an injury.
Fitzgerald knew about these boxing bouts and was eager to see them. Hemingway finally invited him to come along as timekeeper. Here is Callaghan’s account published thirty-four years later in That Summer in Paris:
On the way to the American Club in a taxi, it seemed to me that Scott and Ernest were at ease with each other… Then Ernest had him take out his watch and gave him his instructions. A round was to be three minutes, then a minute for rest. As he took these instructions, listening carefully, Scott had none of Miro’s air of high professionalism. He was too enchanted at being there with us. Moving off the bench, he squatted down, a little smile on his face. “Time,” he called.
Our first round was like most of the rounds we had fought that summer, with me shuffling around, and Ernest, familiar with my style, leading and chasing after me. No longer did he rush in with his old brisk confidence. Now he kept an eye on my left and he was harder to hit…
“Time,” Scott called promptly. When we sat down beside him, he was rather quiet, meditative, and I could tell by the expression on his face that he was mystified. He must have come there with some kind of a picture of Ernest, the fighter, in his head. For Ernest and me it was just like any other day. We chatted and laughed. And it didn’t seem to be important to us that Scott was there. He had made no comment that could bother us. He seemed to be content that he was there concentrating on the minute hand of his watch. “Time,” he called.
Right at the beginning of that round Ernest got careless; he came in too fast, his left down, and he got smacked on the mouth. His lip began to bleed. It had often happened. It should have meant nothing to him. Hadn’t he joked with Jimmy, the bartender, about always having me for a friend while I could make his lip bleed? Out of the corner of his eye he may have seen the shocked expression on Scott’s face. Or the taste of blood in his mouth may have made him want to fight more savagely. He came lunging in, swinging more recklessly. As I circled around him, I kept jabbing at his bleeding mouth. I had to forget all about Scott, for Ernest had become rougher, his punching a little wilder than usual. His heavy punches, if they had landed, would have stunned me. I had to punch faster and harder myself to keep away from him. It bothered me that he was taking the punches on the face like a man telling himself he only needed to land one big punch himself.
… I was wondering why I was tiring, for I hadn’t been hit solidly. Then Ernest, wiping the blood from his mouth with his glove, and probably made careless with exasperation and embarrassment from having Scott there, came leaping in at me. Stepping in, I beat him to the punch. The timing must have been just right. I caught him on the jaw; spinning around he went down, sprawled out on his back.
If Ernest and I had been there alone I would have laughed. I was sure of my boxing friendship with him; in a sense I was sure of him, too. Ridiculous things had happened in that room. Hadn’t he spat in my face? And I felt no surprise seeing him flat on his back. Shaking his head a little to clear it, he rested a moment on his back. As he rose slowly, I expected him to curse, then laugh.
“Oh, my God!” Scott cried suddenly. When I looked at him, alarmed, he was shaking his head helplessly. “I let the round go four minutes,” he said.
“Christ!” Ernest yelled. He got up. He was silent a few seconds. Scott, staring at his watch, was mute and wondering. I wished I were miles away. “All right, Scott,” Ernest said savagely, “if you want to see me getting the shit knocked out of me, just say so. Only don’t say you made a mistake,” and he stomped off to the shower room to wipe the blood from his mouth.
As I tried to grasp the meaning behind his fierce words I felt helpless with wonder, and nervous too; I seemed to be on the edge of some dark pit, and I could only stare blankly at Scott, who, as his eyes met mine, looked sick. Ernest had told me he had been avoiding Scott because Scott was a drunk and a nuisance and he didn’t want to be bothered with him. It was plain now it wasn’t the whole story. Lashing out with those bitter angry words, Ernest had practically shouted that he was aware Scott had some deep hidden animosity toward him. Shaken as I was, it flashed through my mind, Is the animosity in Scott, or is it really in Ernest? And why should it be in Ernest? Did Scott do something for him once? Is it that Scott helped him along and for months and months he’s wanted to be free of him? Or does he think he knows something—knows Scott has to resent him? What is it? Not just that Scott’s a drunk. I knew there was something else.
Then Scott came over to me, his face ashen, and he whispered, “Don’t you see I got fascinated watching? I forgot all about the watch. My God, he thinks I did it on purpose. Why would I do it on purpose?”
“You wouldn’t,” I said, deeply moved, for he looked so stricken. For weeks he had been heaping his admiration of Ernest on me, his hero worship, and I knew of his eagerness for the companionship. Anyone who could say that he was under some secret and malevolent compulsion to let the round go on would have to say, too, that all men are twisted and no man knows what is in his heart. All I knew was that for weeks he had wanted to be here with us, and now that he was here it had brought him this.
“Look, Scott,” I whispered. “If you did it on purpose you wouldn’t have suddenly cried out that you had let the round go on. You didn’t need to. You would have kept quiet. Ernest ’will see it himself.” But Scott didn’t answer… The anguish in his face was the anguish of a man who felt that everything he had stood for when he had been at his best, had been belittled.
“Come on, Scott,” I whispered. “Ernest didn’t mean it. It’s a thing I might have said myself. A guy gets sore and blurts out the first crazy thing that comes into his head.”
“No, you heard him. He believes I did it on purpose,” he whispered bitterly. “What can I do, Morley?”
“Don’t do anything,” I whispered. “Forget the whole thing. He’ll want to forget it himself. You’ll see.”
He moved away from me as Ernest returned from the shower room. With his face washed, Ernest looked much calmer. He had probably done a lot of thinking, too. Yet he offered no retraction. For my part, I tried to ignore the whole incident. Since we had had a good two or three minutes’ rest to make up for the long round, why couldn’t we go on now? I asked. It gave us something to do. Ernest and I squared off.
Scott, appearing alert and efficient, and hiding his terrible sense of insult and bitterness, called “Time.” As I look back now I wonder why it didn’t occur to me, as we began the round, that Ernest might try to kill me. But between us there was no hostility. The fact that I had been popping him, and then had clipped him and knocked him down, was part of our boxing. We went a good brisk round, both keeping out of trouble. When we clinched, my eye would wander to Scott, sitting there so white-faced. Poor Scott. Then suddenly he made it worse. The corner of a wrestling mat stuck out from under the parallel bars, and when I half tripped on it and went down on one knee, Scott, to mollify Ernest, called out foolishly, but eagerly, “One knockdown to Ernest, one to Morley,” and if I had been Ernest I think I would have snarled at him, no matter how good his intentions were.
The mood of the afternoon was changed to the ridiculous when a young fellow who had been watching the boxing offered Hemingway some advice and made himself foolish.
The student’s absurd intervention, adding to the general sense of humiliation, must have put Scott more on edge. He must have felt bewildered. Yet now my two friends began to behave splendidly. Not a word was said about the student. We were all suddenly polite, agreeable, friendly and talkative. I knew how Scott felt; he had told me. He felt bitter, insulted, disillusioned in the sense that he had been aware of an antagonism in Ernest. Only one thing could have saved him for Ernest. An apology. A restoration of respect, a lifting of the accusation. But Ernest had no intention of apologizing. He obviously saw no reason why he should. So we all behaved splendidly. We struck up graceful camaraderie. Ernest was jovial with Scott. We were all jovial. We went out and walked up to the Falstaff. And no one watching us sitting at the bar could have imagined that Scott’s pride had been shattered.
On 28 August 1929 Hemingway sent Perkins a report of the bout from Spain, which differs from Callaghan’s recollection. According to Hemingway, he, Fitzgerald, and John Peale Bishop had eaten a winey lunch of lobster thermidor at Prunier’s. Feeling sleepy, Ernest decided to box with Callaghan right away instead of later in the afternoon as arranged and had a couple of whiskeys on the way. Because of his dull condition, Ernest stipulated one-minute rounds with two-minute rests. Callaghan hit him freely but did not knock him down. Ernest “slipped and went down once and lit on my arm and put my left shoulder out in that first round and it pulled a tendon so that it was pretty sore afterwards.” If Callaghan could hit hard, he “would have killed me.” Ernest sensed that the round was going long but couldn’t ask Scott because then Callaghan would have thought he was quitting. Scott finally called time and apologized for letting the round go three minutes and 45 seconds. They boxed five more rounds. Hemingway’s letter to Perkins is controlled and does not express any anger at Fitzgerald.
In 1951 Hemingway sent Arthur Mizener a detailed account of that afternoon in June 1929. In this version the rounds were supposed to be two minutes long with one-minute rests; but Scott let the first round go thirteen minutes, during which Callaghan was hitting Ernest freely for eight minutes but could not knock him down. When Scott finally called time, Ernest said he was a son-of-a-bitch for deliberately letting the round go thirteen minutes. In the first long round Callaghan had punched himself out, so Ernest was pretty sure he could knock him out in the later rounds; but he did not want to, even though Callaghan had tried to knock him out. One detail in Hemingway’s letter to Mizener that merits comment is his claim that Fitzgerald let the first round go thirteen minutes—a very long time in the ring. Rounds in professional fights are three minutes long.
For the time being the matter of the long round was dropped. Shortly afterward, the Hemingways went to Spain for the bullfights and Fitzgerald went to the Riviera to work on his novel. In July Hemingway wrote Fitzgerald from Valencia about the seizure of the June Scribner’s Magazine in Boston because of the second installment of A Farewell to Arms, expressing concern about the possible effect on Scribners’ attitude toward publication of the book. He signed himself “E. Cantwork Hemingstein.” Fitzgerald replied reassuringly:
12 Blvd. Eugene Gazagnaire
Aug 23d 1929
I’ve been working like hell, better than for four years, + now am confident of getting old faithful off before the all-American teams are picked—hence the delay.
I wrote Max (not mentioning your letter) one of these don’t-lose-your-head notes, though I, like you, never thot there was more than an outside chance of his being forced to let you down. I felt sure that if it came to a crisis he’d threaten to resign + force their hand.
The book sticks with me, by the way; I’m sure its all I thought at first + can’t wait to read it in printing letters.
Its been gay here but we are, thank God, desperately unpopular + not invited anywhere. See the Murphys once a week or so—Gerald is older, less gay, more social, but not so changed as many people in five years. D. Parker is on the crest—tho I didn’t see her as much as I’d liked.
Now—Ruth Goldbeck Voallammbbrrossa not only had no intention of throwing you out in any case, but has even promised on her own initiative to speak to whoever it is—she knows her—has the place. She is a fine woman, I think; one of the most attractive in evidence at this moment, in every sense, + is not deserving of that nervous bitterness.
Not knowing whether you’ve left Spain I’m sending this to Paris. Hoping you’ll be here in Sept for a week or so.
Bunny Wilson’s book [I Thought of Daisy] has a facinating portrait of Dos [John Dos Passo] in it, + is full of good things, + to me interesting throughout. Oddly enough what it lacks is his old bogey, form. It is shapeless as Wells at his wildest, or almost.
Have read nothing good recently save a book on the Leopold Loeb case + Harold Nicolson’s Tennyson, neither recent.
This is a dull letter but it’s late + what’s left of the mind is tired
Always Afftly Yrs
Best to Pauline.
During the summer of 1929 Fitzgerald wrote “The Swimmers,” a Saturday Evening Post story in which he obliquely commented on the term “lost generation” that had been given currency by The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway’s novel had two epigraphs: one from Ecclesiastes describing the order of nature (“the earth abideth forever”); and one from Gertrude Stein (“You are all a lost generation”). Stein had reported to Hemingway this comment by a French garage owner about his young mechanic. The Stein statement was picked up by most readers as the key to The Sun Also Rises. It was generally assumed that the novel proclaimed the existence of a lost generation of war casualties—and that, moreover, Hemingway identified with them. Years later the author corrected this impression, explaining that the Stein epigraph was meant ironically or sarcastically. In A Moveable Feast, he wrote, “But the hell with her lost-generation talk and all the dirty, easy labels.” “The Swimmers” was an attempt to express Fitzgerald’s feelings about the values of France and America, and it became a patriotic hymn. At the end of this story an American who is returning to France broods about the promises of America: “There was a lost generation in the saddle at the moment, but it seemed to him that the men coming on, the men of the war, were better; and all his old feeling that America was a bizarre accident, a sort of historical sport, had gone forever. The best of America was the best of the world.” Here Fitzgerald categorizes as a lost generation those men who had been too old for the war, placing his hope in the idealistic younger men who had fought in the Great War.
Hemingway wrote from Madrid on 4 September urging Fitzgerald to stick with his novel, saying that the parts he had read were better than anything except the best part of The Great Gatsby. Ernest repeats his charge that Scott had been constipated by Gilbert Seldes’ review of Gatsby because it made him try for a masterpiece. Only fairies deliberately write masterpieces. Other writers just write as well as they can. If Seldes hadn’t made him self-conscious, Scott would have finished two good novels by now.
Hemingway’s letter produced a reply from Fitzgerald on 9 September which is a mixture of the self-defense and the self-abnegation that would characterize much of his subsequent correspondence with Hemingway.
Villa Fleur des Bois
Cannes. Sept 9th 1929
I’m glad you decided my letter wasn’t snooty—it was merely hurried (incidently I thought you wanted a word said to Ruth G. if it came about naturally—I merely remarked that you’d be disappointed if you lost your appartment—never a word that you’d been exasperated.) But enough of pretty dismal matters—let us proceed to the really dismal ones. First tho let me say that from Perkins last your book like Pickwick has become a classic while still in serial form. Everything looks bright as day for it and I envy you like hell but would rather have it happen to you than to anyone else.
Just taken another chapter to typists + its left me in a terrible mood of depression as to whether its any good or not. In 2 1/2 mos. I’ve been here I’ve written 20,000 words on it + one short story, which is suberb for me of late years. I’ve paid for it with the usual nervous depressions and such drinking manners as the lowest bistrop bistrot?) boy would scorn. My latest tendency is to collapse about 11.00 and, with the tears flowing from my eyes or the gin rising to their level and leaking over, + tell interested friends or acquaintances that I havn’t a friend in the world and likewise care for nobody, generally including Zelda, and often implying current company—after which the current company tend to become less current and I wake up in strange rooms in strange palaces. The rest of the time I stay alone working or trying to work or brooding or reading detective stories—and realizing that anyone in my state of mind who has in addition never been able to hold his tongue, is pretty poor company. But when drunk I make them all pay and pay and pay.
Among them has been Dotty Parker. Naturally she having been in an equivalent state lacks patience—(this isn’t snooty—no one likes to see people in moods of despair they themselves have survived.) incidently the Murphys have given their whole performance for her this summer and I think, tho she would be the last to admit it, she’s had the time of her life.
We’re coming to Paris for 2 mos the 1st of October.
Your analysis of my inability to get my serious work done is too kind in that it leaves out dissipation, but among acts of God it is possible that the 5 yrs between my leaving the army + finishing Gatsby 1919-1924 which included 3 novels, about 50 popular stories + a play + numerous articles + movies may have taken all I had to say too early, adding that all the time we were living at top speed in the gayest worlds we could find. This au fond is what really worries me—tho the trouble may be my inability to leave anything once started. I have worked for 2 months over a popular short story that was foredoomed to being torn up when completed. Perhaps the house will burn down with this ms + preferably me in it
Always Your Stinking Old Friend
I have no possible right to send you this gloomy letter. Really if I didn’t feel rather better with one thing or another I couldn’t have written it. Here’s a last flicker of the old cheap pride:—the Post now pays the old whore $4,000. a screw. But now it’s because she’s mastered the 40 positions—in her youth one was enough.
Even though Fitzgerald had been unable to complete his novel, he was a hard-working writer. In his first decade as a professional writer (1919-1928) he published three novels, three collections of stories, and a play. His short-story and article output in this period topped one hundred. That he squandered his talent on popular short stories to make the money that he squandered is undeniable. Nonetheless, the stereotypical view of Fitzgerald as a writer who did not work hard is false. He was at least as productive as Hemingway. In his first decade as a non-journalistic professional (1923-1932) Hemingway published two pamphlets, two novels, one parody, two volumes of stories, and a nonfiction study of the bullfight; his total of published stories and articles in this ten-year period was twenty-five. The crucial difference was in the public images Fitzgerald and Hemingway projected. Hemingway radiated confidence and dedication. Everything he did seemed related to his work. Fitzgerald, who had an abysmal sense of literary public relations, became a symbol for dissipation and irresponsibility. As Hemingway recognized, at some point in the late Nineteen-Twenties, Fitzgerald seemed to enjoy failure. Perhaps it was a function of what Fitzgerald called his “Puritan conscience developed in Minnesota” to humiliate him for his failure to fulfill his ambitions. He knew how good he was: geniuses always know.
Hemingway replied on 13 September with a warm and encouraging letter. He says that Scott has more ability and more concern about his own work than anyone, and pleads with him not to interrupt the novel to write stories. Ernest picks up on Scott’s reference to himself as an “old whore,” explaining that Scott is not an old whore because an old whore’s price is never raised. Scott’s stories are not whore-work, but they are bad judgment. He should be able to give them up and live on the earnings of his novels. Writers get better, Ernest insists, after they lose their first bloom because they develop metier and know how to use it. The only thing to do with a novel is to keep writing until it’s finished. Ernest repeats his wish that Scott’s income could depend on novels instead of the damned stories.
One reason why Fitzgerald could not live on his novels was that they were not best sellers. The total earnings from book sales for the three novels during 1920-1926 was $37,000—an average of $5300 a year. Exclusive of dramatic and serial rights, This Side of Paradise brought $14,200, The Beautiful and Damned $15,900, and The Great Gatsby $6700. Moreover, the interval of eight years between Gatsby and Tender Is the Night was not extraordinary, except for the circumstance that Fitzgerald was trying to finish the novel during much of this period. Eight years elapsed between A Farewell to Arms and To Have and Have Not, which was pieced together from short stories; and there was an eleven-year interval between A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
After serialization in Scribner’s Magazine, A Farewell to Arms was published on 27 September 1929 and was an immediate success with readers and reviewers. In The Nation Clifton Fadiman called it “a real occasion for patriotic rejoicing.” The first printing of 31,050 copies sold fast; two more printings were required in September, one in October, and three more in November. By February 1930 more than 79,000 copies had been sold—which earned the author at least $30,000 in book royalties. Hemingway later claimed that sales were hurt because the novel appeared on the day of the stock-market crash, but the crash occurred on 29 October—a month later. Fitzgerald’s total income for 1929 was $32,448.18—of which $27,000 came from stories and $31.71 from all of his books.
In October Fitzgerald passed on to Hemingway a letter from Harold Ober, who had left Reynolds and set up his own literary agency, explaining to Fitzgerald that Reynolds had tried to place Hemingway’s stories without consulting Ober. Fitzgerald added a marginal note:
As you’ll see from this, while Ober was simply wondering if you wanted to use him Reynolds went ahead + constituted himself your agent, though as his only approach to you was through me, he was stepping forth. Of course this letter is nothing but Ober being sore and your work is financially safe with Reynolds as long as he doesn’t go senile. I simply pass this on to show how the battle over your work increases in speed now that you don’t need any help. In any case I shall step out here, not even answering this letter except in the vaguest terms I liked Cowly’s review in Sun. Tribune. First intelligent one I’ve seen
In the fall of 1929 Fitzgerald and Hemingway were again in Paris, and Gertrude Stein asked Hemingway to bring Fitzgerald to call. Hemingway’s note relaying the invitation mentions that she says Scott is the most talented writer of his generation. Stein generated a small crisis by repeating this judgment to Ernest and Scott—adding that Scott’s “flame” was stronger than Ernest’s. It is not clear why Fitzgerald was so upset by Stein’s remark, but he seems to have felt that she didn’t mean it and was somehow slighting him or Hemingway or both. Hemingway appears in an attractive role as he sends Fitzgerald a four-page holograph letter patiently explaining that Stein’s compliment was sincere. He swears that Stein has never said anything to him about Scott that wasn’t praise. Ernest does not feel that he is competing with Scott. Stein meant that Scott has more natural talent than he does, and she believes that Scott’s talent is of a better quality. All talk about “flames” is horseshit, and comparison of Scott and Ernest is worthless because their work has nothing in common. Ernest has no feelings of superiority or inferiority to Scott. There shouldn’t be such feelings between writers who are all in the same boat headed for death. The only competition a writer should feel is the internal one to write well. Ernest understands that Scott is touchy because he hasn’t finished his novel, and it wouldn’t bother him if Scott were even touchier.
The delayed reactions to the June Hemingway-Callaghan bout occurred in November 1929 when reports appeared in American newspapers. On the 24th Isabel M. Paterson’s “Turns With a Bookworm” column in the New York Herald Tribune printed this incorrect, troublemaking item:
In “The Denver Post” Caroline Bancroft tells an amusing story of a singular encounter between Ernest Hemingway and Morley Callaghan.
“One night at the Dome Callaghan’s name was mentioned and Hemingway said: ’Oh, you can easily see he hasn’t any practical background for his fight stories—shouldn’t think he knew anything about boxing.’… Callaghan, hearing of it, challenged Hemingway… After arranging for rounds and a considerable audience, they entered the arena. Not many seconds afterward Callaghan knocked Hemingway out cold. The amateur timekeeper was so excited he forgot to count and the deflated critic had to stagger up and finish the round. When last seen Callaghan was demanding a bout with Jim Tully, saying that he wants to take on all the rough boys of literature.”
Callaghan saw the article in Toronto and, hoping to undo the mischief before Hemingway heard about it, sent a correction to Paterson on the 26th of November. His letter was published in the Trib on the 8th of December.
Last Saturday I saw the story of the singular encounter between Ernest Hemingway and me, taken from the Denver Post. It is a fine story and you can imagine how much I regret not deserving such a reputation, but this ought to be said:
Hemingway, as far as I know, never sat at the Dome last summer.
Certainly he never sat there panning my fight stories and whatever background I might have for them.
I have only written one fight story anyway. I’ll have to do some more at once.
Nor did I ever challenge Hemingway.
Eight or nine times we went boxing last summer trying to work up a sweat, and an increased eagerness for an extra glass of beer afterwards. We never had an audience.
Nor did I ever knock out Hemingway. Once we had a timekeeper. If there was any kind of a remarkable performance that afternoon the timekeeper deserved the applause.
Being of a peaceful and shy disposition I have only envy for strong men who challenge each other and then knock each other out. But I do wish you’d correct that story or I’ll never be able to go to New York again for fear of getting knocked about.
Callaghan had a clear understanding of how Hemingway would react to any public disparagement of his boxing reputation and tried to cover himself by sending a copy of his Trib letter to Perkins on 6 December, explaining that he hadn’t sent it to Perkins before because he knew Perkins would see it when the Trib printed it. But now Callaghan is angry because he has just received a cable from Fitzgerald which places the onus of the story on him. Callaghan says the story was current in New York before he left Paris and that he told only three people in Paris about boxing with Hemingway. He never spoke to anyone from the Denver Post. Callaghan asks Perkins to tell Hemingway that the story did not come from him. It is noteworthy that Callaghan did not write directly to Hemingway. Perkins replied on 9 December: “I won’t write to Ernest unless he sometime raises the point, because I think that would be a mistake;—but I shall write Scott and through him it will get to Ernest.”
Before his letter was printed in the Trib, Callaghan received a collect cable from Paris: HAVE SEEN STORY IN HERALD TRIBUNE. ERNEST AND I AWAIT YOUR CORRECTION. SCOTT FITZGERALD. Callaghan did not know that Hemingway had pressured Fitzgerald to send the cable, and he reacted with an angry letter to Fitzgerald: “I told him it had been unnecessary for him to rush in to defend Ernest. For him to hurry out and send that cable to me collect without waiting to see what I would do was the act of a son of a bitch and I could only assume that he was drunk as usual when he sent it.” Allen Tate was in Paris at the time; his recollection of the events surrounding the Callaghan-Hemingway bout demonstrates how difficult it is to establish the truth about virtually everything involving Hemingway: “In a few seconds Ernest was lying flat on his back. Callaghan had knocked him out. Callaghan rushed straight to the shower, put on his clothes, and rushed to the nearest poste et telegraphe and sent a cable to his publisher: ’Just knocked out Ernest Hemingway.’ Well, Ernest made Scott cable Max Perkins at Scribners denying the whole thing. Scott went on a drunk that lasted three weeks. He’d come around and say, “What a son of a bitch I was to tell that lie’ “ (“Interview with Allen Tate,” Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual 1974). No such cables from Callaghan or Fitzgerald to Perkins exist.
It is possible that this matter could have been de-escalated if the parties had not been communicating by transatlantic ship mail; but Hemingway was also angry with Callaghan for repeating Robert McAlmon’s gossip. The rumor about a homosexual relationship between Fitzgerald and Hemingway was spread by McAlmon, who was himself bisexual and had a malicious mouth. In October 1929 Perkins informed Fitzgerald that McAlmon was in New York slandering Hemingway “both as a man and as a writer.” Fitzgerald explained to Perkins on 15 November: “Part of his quarrel with Ernest some years ago was because he assured Ernest that I was a fairy—God knows he shows more creative imagination in his malice than in his work. Next he told Callaghan that Ernest was a fairy.” On 10 December Hemingway wrote Perkins that Fitzgerald came to dinner last night and while drunk said that Perkins had written that McAlmon had slandered Hemingway in New York. Scott reported a filthy story about himself and Ernest that Callaghan had heard from McAlmon. Ernest knows that McAlmon had said that Pauline is a Lesbian, that Ernest is a fairy, and that Ernest caused the premature birth of Bumby by beating Hadley. Now Callaghan is spreading the story of Ernest’s homosexuality—along with the story of how Callaghan knocked him out. Ernest will have to administer beatings to McAlmon and Callaghan. He tells Perkins not to blame Scott for violating a confidence because he is completely honorable when sober but irresponsible when drunk.
Fitzgerald came to feel that McAlmon’s gossip about him and Hemingway contributed to the destruction of the friendship. He commented in his Notebooks: “I really loved him, but of course it wore out like a love affair. The fairies have spoiled all that.” Hemingway is not named, but the reference is clear.
McAlmon’s gossip led to punitive action by Hemingway, as recorded in a previously unpublished letter by James Charters (Jimmy the Barman), a popular Paris figure:
As I got within a few steps of the entrance to the bar I recognized Ernest Hemingway from behind. Hemingway didn’t see or hear me behind him. He was also with another gentleman, whos face I didn’t see. Well now only about three feet away and on a line with Hemingway and his friend was Bob McAlmon. All three making for my bar. Suddenly before I could do anything, Hemingway sent accross a lightening right swing to Bob McAlmons chin saying at the same time. Now tell that to your God-damn friends! which I distinctly heard. Though Bob didn’t fall with the blow for the wall of the bar in the street protected him he began bleeding from a cut from the lower part of his mouth and chin. Then as Hemingway and his friend moved into the bar I at the same time rushed over to Bob to help him into the bar where I got the proprietors wife to wash and bathe the wound and give him a clean handkerchief to hold to his face until the cut dried. Well it was a most embarrassing situation I’d been in for some time. Bob McAlmon has he received the unexpected blow, and without saying anything, looked straight at me very appealingly. At the same time Hemingway not expecting me to have shown up and saw what happened gazed at me rather surprised and somewhat embarrassed. He didn’t speak either. Though I got both his and Bob McAlmons message from the expressions on each of their faces. Silence appeared to be the general key-note. I myself couldn’t possibly take sides as they were both very good clients, and friends of mine. I really had to be at my most tactful best right to the end of that unfortunate affaire. Inside has Bob stood by the bar holding the new handkerchief to his face, everyone there appeared on edge. First all eyes where on Bob McAlmon, then onto Hemingway, and his friend, who where sitting at a small round table by the entrance. I’d already served them a scotch each which Ernest whispered to me to bring along. However after getting Bob to drink a good shot of brandy he seemed to feel, and looked much better I then asked him if he would like to go home to his hotel for the night and should I get him a taxi. He said yes. So when the taxi arrived Bob gave me his address to give the driver. At the same time I mentioned to the driver that his passenger had just had an accident, and so would he please see him safely home. With that I bid both Bob and the driver good night, and returned to the bar. Just then Hemingway made a sign in mime for two more Scotchs. Well now I recognized Hemingway’s friend but pretended not to have done. For as we hadn’t seen each other since the early 20s at the Dingo both he and Hemingway were hoping I didn’t recognize him. It was Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald kept silent all the way through at least within my close hearing or anyone elses in the bar who might understand what was said I also was waiting for Hemingway to tell me who his friend was, but this happened never. Ernest ordered the drinks and paid for them, so I had no reason to go to Scott, except to serve him his drinks. I gathered that Hemingway by keeping down to a minimum what might become a barroom scandal involving several famous people if the news leaked out. Scott Fitzgerald was completely protected by remaining quiet, not getting involver, or taking sides. Hemingway began talking to me as I stood by his side. Never once did he bring up the trouble between him and Bob McAlmon, but switched to asking me if I liked and was satisfied with the introduction he wrote for the Paris memoires. This Must Be The Place
Jimmy’s letter—written in 1973—places this scene in a bar off the Boulevard Montparnasse “around 1932-33.” If so, then Fitzgerald could not have been present because the Fitzgeralds left Europe permanently in September 1931; moreover, Jimmy’s recognition of Fitzgerald seems rather shaky. If it happened in 1933 (Hemingway’s introduction to This Must Be the Place was sent from Africa in 1933), then Fitzgerald was not there. If Fitzgerald was there, then it happened before September 1931. The beating almost certainly occurred, but it is highly unlikely that Fitzgerald was present.
About the 11th of December 1929—before the 8 December Trib reached Europe—Hemingway wrote Fitzgerald a five-page holograph letter absolving him of all blame for his timekeeping blunder. Again this letter shows Hemingway in a highly favorable light, trying to save a friendship by admitting his own character faults. He denies having said that Scott was guilty of bad timekeeping and is sure that Scott did not do it deliberately. He knows that Scott is a man of great honor whereas he is not—at least not in boxing. When he boxed with Jean Prevost he arranged with the timekeeper to call time whenever he was in trouble but to let the round go on if he was hitting Prevost. Two of Ernest’s friends have died recently and he won’t allow his friendship with Scott to be ruined by this squabble. When they had talked about the time-keeping after the boxing, Ernest did not ask whether Scott had deliberately let the round continue until Scott admitted that he was trying to force a quarrel with him. Scott’s remark that he felt a need to smash him caused Ernest to temporarily lapse into suspicion, but Ernest apologizes for that. He was upset at the time because he had just heard about the vile gossip of McAlmon and Callaghan. He wishes Scott didn’t have such a bad reaction to alcohol, but he’ll be okay when the novel is completed. Ernest insists that he had placed no importance on the boxing bout and had enjoyed telling people how Callaghan had hit him. He had gotten angry only after reading Callaghan’s lies in the newspaper. Ernest reiterates that he holds Scott blameless. He values Scott’s sense of honor and would never wound it.
On December 15 Hemingway wrote Perkins apologizing for bothering him about additional promotion for A Farewell to Arms, saying that Scott got him worried about continuing sales and had suggested that Scribners ought to advertise it as a love story. Ernest is fond of Scott, but he has been a trying friend. Scott is hard at work on his novel and will be all right when he finally finishes it.
Perkins tried to restore peace among Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Callaghan; but his letter to Fitzgerald was not mailed until 17 December—and did not reach him until after Christmas:
I am enclosing a letter I got from Callaghan, and a note which he sent to the Herald Tribune, and which was printed there. They will show you how things stand. The girl who started the story is one Caroline Bancroft. She wanders around Europe every year and picks up what she can in the way of gossip, and prints it in the Denver paper, and it spreads from there. Callaghan told me the whole story about boxing with Ernest, and the point he put the most emphasis on was your time-keeping. That impressed him a great deal. He did say that he knew he was more adept in boxing than Ernest, and that he had been practising for several years with fighters. He was all right about the whole matter. He is much better than he looks.
On 1 January 1930 Fitzgerald—having seen Callaghan’s correction in the Trib—wrote to him in Toronto apologizing for his “stupid and hasty” cable [This account is largely based on Callaghan’s That Summer in Paris; the documents are in Mr. Callaghan’s possession.] He did not mean to imply that Callaghan had circulated the story. This letter did not reach Toronto until the 16th. Callaghan’s conclusion that Fitzgerald’s admiration for Hemingway had now been permanently destroyed is extremely dubious.
On the 4th of January Hemingway responded to the letter Callaghan had sent Fitzgerald in reply to the cable. After noting that Pierre Loving, a Paris journalist, had been responsible for the false report in the Denver Post, he admits that Fitzgerald cabled Callaghan at his insistence—and against Scott’s own judgment. Since three weeks had elapsed since the story appeared in print, Ernest had not known whether Callaghan had corrected it. But, if Callaghan would like to say about him what he wrote to Scott, Ernest will be in America soon and ready to meet him anywhere privately. Callaghan replied that he couldn’t transfer his remarks about Fitzgerald to Hemingway. Since Ernest had forced Scott to send the cable, Callaghan would need a new set of epithets for Hemingway. Perkins, still trying to make peace, wrote Callaghan that Fitzgerald had tried to persuade Hemingway that the cable was unnecessary because Callaghan would promptly deny the story. Perkins assured Callaghan that he had behaved like a gentleman.
Callaghan reported to Perkins on 17 January that he has just received a letter from Scott apologizing for the cable. Scott writes that he never thought Callaghan started the false report, but felt that Callaghan should issue the denial from America. Callaghan asks Perkins to send Caroline Bancroft’s letter to either Scott or Ernest. He is now rather sorry that he sent Scott the abusive letter, but Scott will probably understand why he wrote it.
On the 21st of January Fitzgerald replied to Perkins’ 17 December letter: “Thank you for the documents in the Callaghan case. I’d rather not discuss it except to say that I don’t like him and that I wrote him a formal letter of apology. I never thought he started the rumor + never said nor implied such a thing to Ernest.”
Hemingway wrote to Callaghan on 21 February 1930 from Key West admitting that he had overreacted and explaining that he had not intended to mail his 4 January letter—Pauline found it and mailed it. (This statement is supported by Hemingway’s 10 January letter to Perkins asking him to intercept a letter to Callaghan sent c/o Scribners.) Hemingway insists that he could knock out Callaghan with small gloves, but suggests they call a truce. Callaghan replied that he doesn’t think Hemingway could knock him out, but it is okay with him if Ernest believes it. He agrees to the armistice. Callaghan never heard from Fitzgerald or Hemingway again. When in 1947 Samuel Putnam’s Paris Was Our Mistress included an anecdote about how Hemingway beat up Callaghan for defeating him at tennis, they both ignored it. Fitzgerald had been dead for seven years.
Published as Scott And Ernest: The Authority Of Failure And The Authority Of Success (The Fitzgerald-Hemingway Friendship) by Matthew J. Bruccoli (New York: Random House, 1978); later this text was revised as Fitzgerald And Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship by Matthew J. Bruccoli (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1994).