Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald
by Matthew J. Bruccoli

The Drunkard’s Holiday

29 Paris and Ernest Hemingway [Spring 1925]

Despite the parties and the drinking and the marital upset Fitzgerald accomplished an impressive amount of work during his first six years as a professional writer—three novels, a play, forty-one stories, and twenty-seven articles or reviews, as well as movie scenarios. This was the most productive period of his life. After 1925 it became increasingly difficult for him to devote consecutive months to writing.

That spring in Paris the Fitzgeralds rented a furnished apartment at 14 rue de Tilsitt on the Right Bank at the corner of the avenue Wagram near the Arc de Triomphe. The fifth-floor walk-up was a gloomy place, full of imitation eighteenth-century furniture, and as usual there were servant problems. All their Paris apartments proved to be unsatisfactory. Fitzgerald wanted to leave one immediately after moving in when he detected nasal mucus on the wallpaper, but Zelda said that hygiene did not matter in Paris because no one stayed home there.

One of Fitzgerald’s first projects in Paris was to locate Ernest Hemingway. The meeting took place at the Dingo bar on the rue Delambre in Montparnasse sometime before 1 May. The only record of their first encounter is in Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast—written some thirty-two years after the event—which portrays Fitzgerald as a fool, a nuisance, and a hopeless drunk. As reported by Hemingway, Fitzgerald embarrassed him by praising his work, asking personal questions (“Did you sleep with your wife before you were married?”), and passing out (A Moveable Feast stipulates that Fitzgerald came to the Dingo with Princetonian Duncan Chaplin, thereby providing another witness to Fitzgerald’s con duct. But Chaplin was not in Europe in 1925. Hemingway’s statements about Fitzgerald are not always reliable; and it is well to keep in mind Hemingway’s warning in A Moveable Feast: “If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.”). From the start of their friendship the famous and successful Fitzgerald was intimidated by Hemingway, the twenty-six-year-old apprentice. He was impressed by Hemingway’s talent and awed by his inflated reputation as a war hero and athlete. Fitzgerald’s regret at having missed battle was exacerbated by what he believed was Hemingway’s record as a combat veteran. His response to Hemingway was not unusual: early and late Hemingway had the ability to charm and dominate; and the Hemingway legend was already forming in 1925.

Fitzgerald was disappointed to learn that Hemingway had signed a three-book option with Boni & Liveright for publication of his short-story volume In Our Time (1925), which seemed to end the possibility of bringing him to Scribners. At that time Hemingway was living on the Left Bank with his first wife, Hadley, and their son, who was called Bumby. Their poverty has been exaggerated by Hemingway. Hadley had a modest income, and they were not dependent on his meager earnings from the little magazines after he gave up journalism.

After a subsequent meeting at the Closerie des Lilas cafe convinced him that Fitzgerald could behave properly, Hemingway accepted an invitation to go to Lyon for the Fitzgeralds’ Renault, which had been left there for repair. The Lyon excursion turned into a series of annoyances for Hemingway, who nursed Fitzgerald through hypochondria and alcoholic misconduct. A few days later Fitzgerald gave Hemingway The Great Gatsby: “When I had finished the book I knew that no matter what Scott did, nor how he behaved, I must know it was like a sickness and be of any help I could to him and try to be a good friend.”

When Hemingway met Zelda there was instant mutual antipathy. He thought she was crazy and told Fitzgerald so. Hemingway believed that Zelda was jealous of Fitzgerald’s work and that she fostered his drinking in order to interfere with his writing. Another of Hemingway’s charges against Zelda was that she sought out lesbian company in Paris as a way to impede Fitzgerald’s work: “Scott was afraid for her to pass out in the company they kept that spring and the places they went to…. Zelda did not encourage the people who were chasing her and she had nothing to do with them, she said. But it amused her and it made Scott jealous and he had to go with her to the places. It destroyed hiswork, and she was more jealous of his work than anything.” Zelda’s reaction to Hemingway was that he was a phony—“a materialistic mystic,” “a professional he-man,” “a pansy with hair on his chest.” Fitzgerald summarized June and July in his Ledger as “1000 parties and no work.”

Hemingway’s mixture of affection and condescension toward Fitzgerald is shown in a letter written on 1 July 1925 from Spain while he was en route to the Fiesta of San Fermin at Pamplona that would provide the material for The Sun Also Rises:

I wonder what your idea of heaven would be—A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists all powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death. And hell would probably be an ugly vacuum full of poor polygamists unable to obtain booze or with chronic stomach disorders that they called secret sorrows.

To me heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses. … I would write out at the Hacienda and send my son in to lock the chastity belts onto my mistresses because someone had just galloped up with the news that a notorious monogamist named Fitzgerald had been seen riding toward the town at the head of a company of strolling drinkers.

This first surviving letter between them is a checklist of the Hemingway tests that Fitzgerald had failed—indicating that Fitzgerald was a bad drinker, sexually inexperienced, and dazzled by money.

In July, Edith Wharton invited the Fitzgeralds to tea at her Pavilion Colombe, fourteen miles outside Paris. She had acknowledged receipt of an inscribed copy of The Great Gatsby in June, congratulating Fitzgerald on its great advance over his previous work but regretting that he had not filled in Gatsby’s career: “That would have situated him, + made his final tragedy a tragedy instead of a ’fait divers’ for the morning papers—” Zelda declined the invitation, saying she did not want to be patronized by a grande dame. Fitzgerald went with Theodore Chanler, a young American composer. Stephan Parrott, who had taken up residence in Paris, was also invited but did not attend. A break in the Fitzgerald-Parrott friendship had occurred, and it was never mended. Although Fitzgerald inscribed a portrait of himself to Parrott “from his brother” after 1920, the real basis of their friendship had been Father Fay’s affection for both his proteges.

The widely disseminated story of Fitzgerald’s visit to Mrs. Wharton has it that he arrived drunk and tried to shock her by announcing that he and his wife had lived for two weeks in a Paris brothel; when Mrs. Wharton squelched him, Fitzgerald is supposed to have fled back to Paris and confessed to Zelda, “They beat me! They beat me! They beat me!” This account requires correction (Esther Murphy appears to have circulated this distorted version, but she was not present. The first publication of the story in The Far Side of Paradise cites the source as Richard Knight—who also was not there. Knight was an eccentric friend of Zelda’s, a disbarred lawyer who died under mysterious circumstances) . Chanler’s eyewitness report is that Fitzgerald was not drunk, although he had stopped for wine on the way. Fitzgerald tried to make conversation with Mrs. Wharton through his usual ploy of complimenting her, but she would not play along with him. Because the gathering was so dull, Fitzgerald asked permission to tell an anecdote about an American couple who had mistakenly spent their first Paris days in a brothel. Apparently missing the point of the story, Mrs. Wharton asked what they did there. Chanler’s summary is that Edith Wharton’s “unyielding formality and stiffness might have driven him to this desperate conversational measure even without the help of alcohol.” Fitzgerald had been trying to make her dull party go better. “I cannot of course say whether or not he made the remark ’she beat me’ on his return. But it seems most likely that this is someone’s invention. On the way back to Paris he showed no sign of feeling squelched, or that the failure of the occasion was due to him rather than to Mrs. Wharton.”

By 1 May, while his disappointment with the sales of Gatsby was still fresh, Fitzgerald sent Perkins an ambitious announcement: “The happiest thought I have is of my new novel—it is something really NEW in form, idea, structure—the model for the age that Joyce and Stien are searching for, that Conrad didn’t find.” And on 4 May Fitzgerald wrote Mencken that his new novel would be about himself: “Moreover it will have the most amazing form ever invented.” These statements of purpose expressed his new concern with form and structure that developed from his work on The Great Gatsby. The title for the novel was “Our Type”; but he probably did not have a clear plan until August 1925, when the Ledger notes “Concieve novel.” The only writing Fitzgerald did in spring-summer 1925 was on the novelette “The Rich Boy,” which he had brought with him from Capri. One of Fitzgerald’s major stories—perhaps his best story—“The Rich Boy” is an extension of The Great Gatsby, enlarging the examination of theeffects of wealth on character: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very hard to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think they are better than we are. They are different.”

The model for Anson Hunter was Fitzgerald’s Princeton classmate and best man, Ludlow Fowler. Fitzgerald alerted Fowler: “I have written a fifteen thousand-word story about you called The Rich Boy (“The Rich Boy” had started as a regulation-length magazine story, but on 13 April 1925 Fitzgerald wrote Ober that he was stretching it into a “three parter.”)—it is so disguised that no one except you and me and maybe two of the girls concerned would recognize, unless you give it away, but it is in large measure the story of your life, toned down here and there and symplified. Also many gaps had to come out of my imagination. It is frank, unsparing but sympathetic and I think you will like it—it is one of the best things I have ever done.” Fitzgerald gave Fowler the opportunity to read the story before it was published, and Fowler asked for cuts that were not made until it was collected in All the Sad Young Men. Fowler’s list of alterations does not survive; but he probably asked Fitzgerald to delete two anecdotes about Anson Hunter’s drinking and womanizing that appear on page 144 of the first Redbook installment. There are more than 500 substantive changes between publication of the story in Redbook and All the Sad Young Men. In general, the effect of Fitzgerald’s revisions was to make Anson more self-centered and Paula more appealing.

“The Rich Boy” is a key document for understanding Fitzgerald’s much-discussed and much-misunderstood attitudes toward the rich. He was not an envious admirer of the rich who believed they possessed a special glamour. In 1938 he observed: “That was always my experience—a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy’s school; a poor boy in a rich man’s club at Princeton. … I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works.” But his feelings were more complex than this statement indicates. He knew that the lives of the rich had greater possibilities, but he recognized that they failed to use these possibilities fully. He also perceived that money corrupts the will to excellence. Believingthat work is the only dignity (even though he could not live up to that doctrine), he condemned the self-indulgent rich for wasting the freedom of wealth. Fitzgerald admired the rich only at their best—exemplified for him by the Murphys—when leisure was combined with charm and culture. The world of the well-to-do provided him with material he could respond to from the perspective of a privileged outsider—the man who didn’t fully belong. The narrator of “The Rich Boy”—another outsider—concludes: “I don’t think he was ever happy unless some one was in love with him, responding to him like filings to a magnet, helping him to explain himself, promising him something. What it was I do not know. Perhaps they promised him that there would always be women in the world who would spend their brightest, freshest, rarest hours to nurse and protect that superiority he cherished in his heart.”

Fitzgerald’s judgments on the rich were complicated by his attitudes toward his own money, which he could never manage. He knew what money could buy—even more than luxury, a fuller life with time to write. He would have subscribed to Somerset Maugham’s pronouncement that money is the sixth sense without which the other five senses cannot be used properly. Yet it is not entirely paradoxical that he threw his money away. His carelessness with money expressed his superiority to it. If he could waste it, then it didn’t own him. The inevitable result was that he was in bondage to it after all because he had to earn the money he was squandering. The illusions attendant upon love and money—which went together—were Fitzgerald’s material. A writer does not really choose his themes. With luck and talent he treats his material more profoundly as he develops, but the themes do not change.

At the time “The Rich Boy” appeared in the January and February 1926 issues of Red Book (which paid $3,500 after the Post declined it), Ring Lardner expressed regret that Fitzgerald had not expanded it into a novel. Fitzgerald insisted that “The Rich Boy” had come to him in the form of a story and that it would have been impossible for him to extend it. This explanation is not entirely convincing. The long story is written novelistically, employing the partially involved narrator Fitzgerald had developed in The Great Gatsby; but the writing stretched out over four or five months, during which he was drinking heavily and working with many interruptions (one of which was for “A Penny Spent,” a Post story written in July). If he had been writing under more orderly conditions, the 17,000-word novelette might haveevolved into a Gatsby-length novel of 50,000 words and reinforced the critical respect The Great Gatsby had elicited. Instead, nine years elapsed before Fitzgerald had another novel in the bookstores.

The Collins contract for This Side of Paradise granted first-refusal rights for English publication of Fitzgerald’s subsequent books; they had published Flappers and Philosophers, The Beautiful and Damned, and Tales of the Jazz Age. None of these books sold well, although the two novels did better than the story collections. Collins declined The Great Gatsby, which was published by Chatto & Windus in 1926. (T.S. Eliot, an editor at Faber, had hoped his firm could publish the novel in England). The novel was not a success, although it elicited some of the best reviews Fitzgerald received in England. The Times Literary Supplement called it “undoubtedly a work of art and of great promise,” commending the structure but complaining about the unpleasantness of the characters. In the New Criterion American poet Conrad Aiken praised the characters and “excellence of form” but expressed concern that Fitzgerald would be spoiled by commercial work: “If only he can refrain altogether in future from the sham romanticism and sham sophistication which the magazines demand of him, and give another turn of the screw to the care with which he writes, he may well become a first-rate writer.” English critics and readers did not respond to the American themes of the novel. Gatsby’s American dreams were not yet exportable.

During June 1925 Fitzgerald began selecting stories for his third collection, which had to be held up until “The Rich Boy” appeared in Red Book. All the Sad Young Men, published by Scribners on 26 February 1926, was Fitzgerald’s strongest collection, with four major stories (“The Rich Boy,” “Winter Dreams,” “Absolution,” and “ ’The Sensible Thing’ “) as well as five commercial stories (“The Baby Party,” “Rags Martin-Jones and the Pr-nce of W-les,” “The Adjuster,” “Hot and Cold Blood,” and “Gretchen’s Forty Winks”). The volume was dedicated to ring and ellis lardner. As was his custom, Fitzgerald polished the magazine texts of these stories. He was convinced that the book publication of stories affected his reputation, whereas the magazine appearances were ignored by critics. A particular concern was to remove from the stories any passages that had been incorporated into The Great Gatsby, for he believed that it was dishonest to use the same phrases in different books.

All the Sad Young Men was successful for a story volume—three printings and 16,170 copies in 1926, which brought $3,894. There was no English edition. The reviewers were for the most part friendly, with the warmest praise appearing in an unsigned Bookman review: “As F. Scott Fitzgerald continues to publish books, it becomes apparent that he is head and shoulders better than any writer of his generation.” Yet the critics did not realize just how good the best stories were, and “The Rich Boy” was not singled out for admiration.

30 Paris and Antibes [Spring-Summer 1925]

Hemingway was wellconnected in the Paris expatriate literary colony and introduced Fitzgerald to some of the American writers living on the Left Bank. Fitzgerald went with Hemingway to 27 rue de Fleurus to meet Gertrude Stein, whom he charmed. She regarded Fitzgerald as the most promising of the young American novelists and delivered her pronouncement on The Great Gatsby:

Here we are and have read your book and it is a good book. I like the melody of your dedication it shows that you have a background of beauty and tenderness and that is a comfort. The next good thing is that you write naturally in sentences and that too is a comfort. You write naturally in sentences and one can read all of them and that among other things is a comfort. You are creating the modern world much as Thackeray did his in Pendennis and Vanity Fair and this isn’t a bad compliment. You make a modern world and a modern orgy strangely enough it was never done until you did it in This Side of Paradise. My belief in This Side of Paradise was alright. This is as good a book and different and older and that is what one does, one does not get better but different and older and that is always a pleasure.

Although Fitzgerald was intrigued by Stein and flattered by her praise, he did not become a disciple of her theories or a member of her coterie. He felt that Three Lives was a solid achievement, but that her later books were “coo-coo.”

Fitzgerald probably met Robert McAlmon through Hemingway or Stein. McAlmon was an American writer and proprietor of Contact Editions, a Paris imprint that published expatriate writers—including himself. He envied the success of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and later spread gossip about them culminating in the fabrication that they werehomosexuals. Fitzgerald tried to rehabilitate Harold Stearns, the editor of Civilization in the United States, who was permanently drunk in Paris, although Hemingway warned him that nothing could be done about Stearns. He became friendly with Sylvia Beach, whose Shakespeare & Co. bookshop on the rue de l’Odeon in Montparnasse was a gathering place for American writers. Except for virtually mandatory contacts such as with Stein and Beach, Fitzgerald did not participate in the expatriate literary life. He wrote nothing for the little magazines and remained indifferent to the Paris movements and schools. By the time he arrived in Paris his own techniques and subjects were fully developed; and he was beyond writing experimental pieces for the pleasure of seeing them printed.

Scottie, now four, was left largely to the care of nannies, but Fitzgerald was a concerned father. He made sure that her nannies were good to her and he spent time with her. One of his amusements was to work up routines in which she played straight man. Fitzgerald: “Do you know the story of the dirty shirt?” Scottie: “No, I don’t. What is it?” Fitzgerald: “That’s one on you!” Later in Paris he spent hours staging battles with the soldiers he avidly collected at the Nain Bleu toyshop—with Scottie on the losing side. Agincourt was his favorite battle. Zelda was bored by the chores of motherhood, but when her imagination was captured she devoted a good deal of effort to projects for Scottie—toy castles, playhouses, and elaborate Christmas trees. Both parents were careful to prevent their domestic discord from reaching Scottie, and she was untouched by their marital conflicts. It was not until she was an adolescent that Scottie understood her father was an alcoholic.

Believing that his mother’s indulgence had weakened his character, Fitzgerald was a strict parent. Speaking through Dick Diver in Tender Is the Night, he observed: “ ’Either one learns politeness at home … or the world teaches it to you with a whip and you may get hurt in the process. What do I care whether Topsy “adores” me or not? I’m not bringing her up to be my wife.’ “ But he was not a severe disciplinarian, and Scottie was rarely punished. A toy gendarme from Nain Bleu was employed to serve as the intermediary in discipline. Once when Scottie had been sent to her room without toys or books, Fitzgerald caught her reading a popular French children’s work, Jean Qui Grogne et Jean Qui Rit. Instead of administering the threatened spanking, he became so interested in the book’s illustrations that he made Scottie read it aloud to him in English.

One of the Paris anecdotes about Fitzgerald was that he had insisted on being served a club sandwich at Voisin, an elegant restaurant. The point of this story—that he remained a tourist—was largely true. Fitzgerald never felt at home in France as the Murphys and Hemingways did in their different ways. He spoke restaurant French, and he was indifferent to the music and art of Paris. He knew French literature only in translation, and Proust became his most admired French writer. He retained a streak of xenophobia, suspecting that the French shopkeepers and servants he dealt with were trying to cheat him. His favorite resorts were the American bars of the Right Bank. The Fitzgeralds liked to go out at night and apparently ate at home only reluctantly. In addition to their almost obligatory appearances at the Left Bank cafes (the Dome, the Coupole, the Select, Lipp’s, the Deux Magots, and the Closerie des Lilas), the Fitzgeralds frequented the cabarets of Montmartre. They became favorite patrons at Bricktop’s, a nightclub presided over by an American Negro singer, who took protective custody over Fitzgerald’s money when he flashed a large roll. The Fitzgeralds were also regulars at ZellI’s and le Perroquet. Legend has it that one night they jumped into the pool at the Lido cabaret. Once Fitzgerald commandeered a three-wheeled delivery cart and rode it around the Place de la Concorde pursued by two gendarmes on bikes. It is impossible to document all the stunts they were credited with; escapades were assigned to them because they were the sort of thing the Fitzgeralds might have done. Fitzgerald drank at the Ritz and Crillon bars, which were patronized by wealthy Americans. He often lunched at Ciro’s, la Reine Pedauque, and Foyot, and liked to dine at the Trianon on the Left Bank because it was James Joyce’s favorite restaurant. No matter how favorable the rate of exchange was, a good deal of his money simply vanished during riotous nights. He was a generous tipper and the size of his tips increased with his alcoholic intake.

Fitzgerald did not reserve part of every day for writing, usually working in concentrated bursts when a story had to be finished. In Paris his routine was to rise at 11 in the morning and try to start writing at 5 p.m. He claimed that he worked intermittently until 3:30 a.m., but too often his nights were spent on the town. In “Babylon Revisited” Fitzgerald has Charles Wales reassess his Paris nights:

All the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he suddenly realized the meaning of the word “dissipate”—to dissipate intothin air; to make nothing out of something. In the little hours of the night every move from place to place was an enormous human jump, an increase of paying for the privilege of slower and slower motion.

He remembered thousand-franc notes given to an orchestra for playing a single number, hundred-franc notes tossed to a doorman for calling a cab.

But it hadn’t been given for nothing.

It had been given, even the most wildly squandered sum, as an offering to destiny that he might not remember the things most worth remembering…

When Fitzgerald went pub-crawling by himself, it was sometimes hard to terminate his revels. William L. Shirer has reported a night when Fitzgerald showed up drunk at the Paris Tribune around midnight, where he sat at the copy desk and ripped up copy. He sang and insisted that the reporters join in. Shirer, James Thurber, and Eugene Jolas tried to take him home, but Fitzgerald insisted on touring the bars. When he passed out, they delivered him to the rue de Tilsitt, where he refused to go in and fought with the three of them until they carried him into his apartment. The wonder of this account and similar ones is that the people who had to handle a drunken Fitzgerald usually forgave his misconduct. His talent and charm often rescued him from the social morasses he created.

Even if Fitzgerald did not take to the French, he enjoyed the stimulation of Paris and the beauty of the Riviera. Moreover, France seemed populated by interesting Americans. In Fitzgerald’s fiction France is a place where Americans deteriorate or sometimes demonstrate their superiority over the natives. The chief contribution to his writing from his residence abroad was a new perspective on American character. Unlike fashionable expatriates who sneered at American vulgarity, Fitzgerald found that France intensified his identification with his native land.

In August 1925 the Fitzgeralds joined the Murphys at Cap d’Antibes, where they probably stayed at the Hotel du Cap. Fitzgerald wrote to Bishop in September: “I’m crazy to see your novel. I’m starting a new one myself. There was no one at Antibes this summer except me, Zelda, the Valentino, the Murphy’s, Mistinguet, Rex In gram, Dos Passos, Alice Terry, the Mclieshes, Charlie Bracket, Maude Kahn, Esther Murphy, Marguerite Namara, E. Phillips Openhiem, Mannes the violinist, Floyd Dell, Max and Chrystal Eastman, ex-Premier Orlando, Ettienne de Beaumont—just a real place to rough it,an escape from all the world.” As he later wrote, “One could get away with more on the summer Riviera, and whatever happened seemed to have something to do with art.” To be included in the Murphys’ Riviera life was to be admitted to a world of elaborately simple pleasures. When Scottie said she wanted to marry him, Gerald Murphy staged a grand mock wedding. In Tender Is the Night Fitzgerald evoked the Murphys’ hospitality as an incantation: “Just for a moment they seemed to speak to everyone at the table, singly and together, assuring them of their friendliness, their affection. And for a moment the faces turned up toward them were like the faces of poor children at a Christmas tree. Then abruptly the table broke up—the moment when the guests had been daringly lifted above conviviality into the rarer atmosphere of sentiment, was over before it could be irreverently breathed, before they had half realized it was there.”

The strong affection between the Murphys and Fitzgeralds is documented by Gerald’s September letter to the Fitzgeralds after they had left the Riviera:

There really was a great sound of tearing heard in the land as your train pulled out that day. Sara and I rode back together saying things about you both to each other which only partly expressed what we felt separately. Ultimately, I suppose, one must judge the degree of one’s love for a person by the hush and the emptiness that descends upon the day,—after the departure. We heard the tearing because it was there,—and because we were’nt able to talk much about how much we do love you two. We agreed that it made us very sad, and sort of hurt a little—for a “summer holiday.”

Most people are dull, without distinction and without value, even humanly,—I believe (even in the depths of my expansive Irish heart). For Sara most people are guilty of the above until they are proved innocent. All this one can believe without presumption or personal vanity,—and the proof that it’s true is found for me in the fact that you two belong so irrevocably to that rare race of people who are valuable. As yet in this world we have found four. One only really loves what is rare and valuable to one, in spite of the fact that one loves first.

We four communicate by our presence rather than any means: so that where we meet and when will never count. Currents race between us regardless: Scott will uncover for me values in Sara, just as Sara has known them in Zelda through her affection for Scott.29

At this time Zelda became interested in resuming her ballet training— after at least a seven-year interruption. The Murphys recommended their daughter Honoria’s Paris teacher, Lubov Egorova, but it has not been determined when Zelda began working with her.

One of Fitzgerald’s intellectual enthusiasms was behaviorism, a physiological approach to human adjustments. (He may have acquired this interest through Mencken, who admired behaviorism.) Fitzgerald sent Judge Sayre an inscribed copy of John B. Watson’s Behaviorism (1925): “Since Europe in its exhaustion and political disillusion has been looking toward us for ideas our paucity in that regard has become particularly apparent. In fact the only American idea treated there with any respect or attention is Behaviorism, of which this book is the statement and the bible. With all its rawness and arrogance it is quite able to speak for itself—and has I believe been hurt by being confused with the various bastard sciences that have sprung from Freud. I’ll be so interested to hear your reactions to it.” Behaviorism did not influence Fitzgerald’s work; his inscription seems to have been mainly prompted by a desire to impress the Judge with his seriousness.

31 Paris and Planning a Fourth Novel [Fall 1925-Spring 1926]

The novel Fitzgeraldplanned in the summer of 1925 was about a young American traveling in France with his mother, whom he would murder. On 28 August, Fitzgerald informed Perkins: “Our Type is about several things, one of which is an intellectual murder on the Leopold-Loeb idea. Incidently it is about Zelda + me + the hysteria of last May + June in Paris. (Confidential)”. Other sources for the novel were Dorothy Ellingson, a San Francisco girl who murdered her mother in 1925; Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1925); and the appearance of Walker Ellis—Fitzgerald’s collaborator on Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi!—on the Riviera. After a brilliant Princeton career and a degree from Harvard Law School, Ellis had abandoned the law for acting, at which he did not succeed. Fitzgerald saw Ellis as a case history in deterioration. Theodore Chanler, Fitzgerald’s companion on the visit to Edith Wharton, was another source for the novel. Having grown dissatisfied with the irregularity of his life in France, Chanler decided to break with his friends. When Fitzgerald heard about it, he spoke of Chanler as the basis for a novel about a talented young American who is taken up by a charming expatriate group and undergoes a breakdown.

Actual writing on the novel probably did not commence until 1926. The earliest surviving drafts are the manuscripts and typescripts for parts of three chapters (The twelve drafts of the novel are traced in Bruccoli, The Composition of Tender Is the Night: A Study of the Manuscripts (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963). The protagonist is Francis Melarky, a twenty-one-year-old Southerner traveling in Europe with his domineering mother. The novel opens with their arrival on the Riviera, by which time Francis has been beaten by the police because of a drunken brawl in Rome. Before that he had been dismissed from West Point and had worked as a technician in Hollywood, where he had gotten into some kind of unspecified trouble. Francis has a quick temper, which his mother triggers by efforts to control his life.

On the Riviera, Francis is taken up by an American couple, Seth and Dinah Roreback (who are also named Rorebeck and Piper). The Rorebacks’ closest friend is Abe Herkimer, an alcoholic composer. Francis and Abe serve as seconds in a duel between Gabriel Brugerol and writer Albert McKisco. The Rorebacks invite Francis to Paris to see Abe off for America. In Paris, Francis falls in love with Dinah, who does not encourage his passion. At this point, the early drafts break off, but Fitzgerald’s plan was to have Francis suffer an alcoholic breakdown and murder his mother. The drafts offer no indication of insanity in Dinah; this element would not be introduced into the novel until after 1930. Although Fitzgerald had told Perkins and Mencken that his novel would be structurally innovative, the early drafts are written in straightforward third-person narrative. The connections between this material and Tender Is the Night are obvious: the Rorebacks (based on the Murphys) become the Divers; Abe Herkimer (mostly based on Ring Lardner) is Abe North; Brugerol (partly based on Edouard Jozan) becomes Tommy Barban; and Francis evolves into Rosemary Hoyt.

The name Francis Melarky, chosen for the principal character, is puzzling. While the shared given name identifies the character with the author, the surname indicates that Fitzgerald had reservations about the character. Since “malarkey” is a common expression for something exaggerated or unbelievable, it may well be that Fitzgerald’s willingness to ridicule his protagonist with a ludicrous name indicates his reservations about his ability to deal with the matricide subject. At the time he was working with the Melarky plot, he wrote a fifty-four-line comic ballad which he recited for friends:

Just a boy who killed his mother
I was always up to tricks
When she taunted me I shot her
Through her chronic appendix
I was always very nervous
And it really isn’t fair
I bumped off my mother but never no other
Will you let me die in the chair?

The Fitzgeralds were back in Paris in September 1925. Fitzgerald summarized his twenty-eighth year in his Ledger as “The year of Zelda’s sickness and resulting depression. Drink, loafing + the Murphys.” Little work was accomplished that fall, except for two commercial love stories—“Presumption” and “The Adolescent Marriage”—which brought a raise in Fitzgerald’s Post price to $2,500. Their Paris life became increasingly disturbed as Zelda experienced at least one episode of “nervous hysteria” that required a morphine injection.

In November there was a trip to London during which the Fitzgeralds partied with the Marchioness of Milford Haven, whom they met through Zelda’s girlhood friend Tallulah Bankhead. While in London, Fitzgerald called at Chatto & Windus, the English publishers of The Great Gatsby. He had not made an appointment and none of the partners was there. Novelist Frank Swinnerton, an editor at the firm, received him without introducing himself. Fitzgerald was “brusque to the point of truculence” until Swinnerton praised Gatsby; then Fitzgerald asked his name. When Swinnerton told him, Fitzgerald was dismayed. “Snatching up his hat in consternation, he cried: ’Oh, my God! Nocturne’s one of my favorite books!’ and dashed out of the premises.”

France stimulated Fitzgerald’s interest in the Great War. He collected war books and recommended some of them to Perkins for publication. At Brentano’s Paris bookshop he was fascinated by books with photos of mutilated soldiers. He also acquired a set of glass slides of battle scenes. A fall trip to the Western Front battlefields inspired one of the most admired passages in Tender Is the Night, in which Fitzgerald expressed his sense that trench warfare had marked the termination of the old faiths:

“This western-front business couldn’t be done again, not for a long time. The young men think they could do it but they couldn’t. They could fight the first Marne again but not this. This took religion and years of plenty and tremendous sureties and the exact relation that existed between the classes. The Russians and Italians weren’t any good on this front. You had to have a whole-souled sentimental equipment going back further than you could remember. You had to remember Christmas, and postcards of the Crown Prince and his fiancee, and little cafes in Valence and beer gardens in Unter den Linden and weddings at the mairie, and going to the Derby, and your grandfather’s whiskers… This kind of battle was invented by Lewis Carroll and Jules Verne and whoever wrote Undine, and country deacons bowling and marraines in Marseilles and girls seduced in the back lanes of Wurtemburg and Westphalia. Why, this was a love battle—there was a century of middle-class love spent here. This was the last love battle.”

During the fall and winter of 1925 Fitzgerald was occupied with his friendship for Hemingway and his efforts to advance Hemingway’s career. They spent a lot of time in cafes arguing about writing, with Fitzgerald trying to act as Hemingway’s mentor. Although Hemingway’s Boni & Liveright contract seemed to preclude bringing his books to the house of Scribner, Fitzgerald urged him to send stories to Perkins for Scribner’s Magazine. Fitzgerald persuaded him to cut an anecdote about boxer Benny Leonard from the opening of “Fifty Grand,” but Hemingway subsequently decided that it had been bad advice. Fitzgerald’s alcoholic nocturnal visits annoyed Hemingway because they disturbed Hadley and woke the baby. Since his head for alcohol was strong, Hemingway could work after an evening of drinking; but Fitzgerald often wanted to prolong the party until morning. Hemingway began to suspect that Fitzgerald resented his self-discipline and was deliberately trying to impede his writing.

In the summer of 1925 Hemingway had written the first draft of The Sun Also Rises, his first novel, in two months and then put it aside for a few weeks before rewriting it. Fitzgerald was eager to read the novel, but Hemingway stalled him by explaining that it was bad for him to talk about his work before it was finished. While he was cooling off from The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway wrote The Torrents of Spring— a book-length parody of Sherwood Anderson, whose 1925 novel Dark Laughtei he regarded as fraudulent. Hemingway presented the carbon copy of his burlesque to the Fitzgeralds, inscribed: “To Scott and Zelda with love from Ernest.” He had written Fitzgerald into Torrents:

It was at this point in the story, reader, that Mr. Scott Fitzgerald came to our home one afternoon, and after remaining for quite a while suddenly sat down in the fireplace and would not (or was it could not, reader?) get up and let the fire burn something else so as to keep the room warm.

Fitzgerald could not have been pleased by this depiction of him as helplessly drunk, but does not seem to have made an attempt to have it deleted from the published book.

The Torrents of Spring was submitted in December 1925 under the Boni & Liveright three-book option, which would become invalid if the publishers declined any of the books Hemingway offered. Because Sherwood Anderson was one of Boni & Liveright’s most importantauthors, it has been generally assumed that Hemingway deliberately wrote Torrents as a contract-breaker—with Fitzgerald acting as co-conspirator. Hemingway was determined to leave Boni & Liveright and was negotiating with Harcourt, Brace at the same time that he was negotiating with Scribners. Whatever Hemingway’s motives were, Fitzgerald played it straight by urging Horace Liveright and T. R. Smith, the head editor at Boni & Liveright, to publish Torrents, calling it “the best comic book ever written by an American.” He continued, “Frankly, I hope you won’t like it—because I am something of a ballyhoo man for Scribners and I’d some day like to see all my generation that I admire (3) rounded up in the same coop—but knowing my entheusiasm and his own trepidation Ernest agreed with me that such a statement from the former might break the ice for what is an extraordinary and unusual production.”

After Boni & Liveright declined the parody, Fitzgerald persuaded Perkins to make an offer sight unseen for both The Torrents of Spring and The Sun Also Rises; the deal was consummated when Hemingway went to New York to meet Perkins. While these negotiations were going on, Fitzgerald sent Perkins advice on dealing with Hemingway, indicating that his ethics were shaky: “In any case he is temperamental in business, made so by these bogus publishers over here. If you take the other two things get a signed contract for the Sun Also Rises (novel).”

That Christmas a photo was taken of the three Fitzgeralds doing a kick step in front of their tree. It has been frequently published because it seems to preserve the insouciant image of the Fitzgeralds at the peak of his fame as the author of The Great Gatsby—young, handsome, and confident.

Zelda continued to have abdominal pains through the end of the year, and in January 1926 the Fitzgeralds tried a cure at Salies de Beam, a spa in the French Pyrenees. It was a dull place, and they left after two months. At Salies de Bearn, Fitzgerald wrote two minor stories: “The Dance” {Red Book, June 1926) and “Your Way and Mine” {Woman’s Home Companion, May 1927). “The Dance” was his only detective story after 1909. He also wrote an essay-review of Hemingway’s In Our Time entitled “How to Waste Material: A Note on My Generation.” After discussing the failure of American writers to use American material properly—developing his longstanding conviction that the back-to-the-soil novels were fakes—Fitzgerald assessed In Our Time and identified “Big Two-Hearted River” as the best storyin the volume. The article concludes: “And many of us who have grown weary of admonitions to ’watch this man or that’ have felt a sort of renewal of excitement at these stories wherein Ernest Hemingway turns a corner into the street.” Declined by Mencken’s American Mercury because it discussed Mencken, “How to Waste Material” appeared in the May 1926 Bookman.

32 Juan-les-Pins [Spring-Fall 1926]

The year 1926should have provided ideal working conditions for the new novel because of the subsidiary income from The Great Gatsby. A successful stage version by Owen Davis and a Famous Players silent movie brought a windfall of some $25,000 before commissions, and the post-publication serial rights were sold for $1,000 to Famous Story magazine. Fitzgerald did not work on the play or the movie. In March the Fitzgeralds went to the Riviera for what was intended to be a repetition of their productive 1924 stay; but there were too many people and too many distractions. They rented the Villa Paquita at Juan-les-Pins near the Murphys. The house didn’t suit them; in May or June they turned it over to the Hemingways and moved to the Villa St. Louis, where they remained until the end of 1926. The center of the swimming activities at Cap d’Antibes was the Plage de la Garoupe. The Murphys and their friends went there every day and established territorial rights over the part of the beach that Gerald had raked. Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker had come to France with Hemingway, and Fitzgerald saw a good deal of them.

In April 1926 Fitzgerald optimistically reported to Ober that his new novel was “about one fourth done and will be delivered for possible serialization about January 1st. It will be about 75,000 words long, divided into 12 chapters, concerning tho this is absolutely confidential such a case as that girl who shot her mother on the Pacific coast last year.” On the basis of this prediction Ober negotiated a first-refusal agreement with Liberty for the serial rights.

Fitzgerald’s belief in Hemingway’s future remained undiminished. Hemingway—who resented any proprietary claims—always acknowledged that Fitzgerald had more concern for Hemingway’s career than for his own. After a Riviera conversation in which Fitzgerald urgednovelist Glenway Wescott to help promote Hemingway’s reputation, Wescott concluded that Fitzgerald’s admiration for Hemingway damaged Fitzgerald by convincing him he could delegate his literary responsibilities to Hemingway. This view is hyperbolic. Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s styles and materials were so different that Fitzgerald could not have felt then that Hemingway had made him redundant. (There is a report in The Far Side of Paradise that Fitzgerald told Thornton Wilder: “I don’t write any more. Ernest has made all my writing unnecessary” (p. 279). The statement seems to have been made during Fitzgerald’s last Hollywood years, when he sometimes played the has-been writer.) Although he would designate Hemingway his artistic conscience, Fitzgerald was not directly influenced by Hemingway’s techniques. He acknowledged in 1936: “That a third contemporary had been an artistic conscience to me—I had not imitated his infectious style, because my own style, such as it is, was formed before he published anything, but there was an awful pull toward him when I was on a spot.”

In June, Fitzgerald finally had the opportunity to read The Sun Also Rises only after it had been sent to Scribners. In A Moveable Feast Hemingway denies that Fitzgerald’s advice was useful to him; but the ten-page report that Fitzgerald wrote shows that Hemingway did act on Fitzgerald’s editorial judgment in revising the proof of The Sun Also Rises:

Dear Ernest: Nowdays when almost everyone is a genius, at least for awhile, the temptation for the bogus to profit is no greater than the temptation for the good man to relax (in one mysterious way or another)—not realizing the transitory quality of his glory because he forgets that it rests on the frail shoulders of professional entheusiasts. This should frighten all of us into a lust for anything honest that people have to say about our work. I’ve taken what proved to be excellent advice (On the B. + Damned) from Bunny Wilson who never wrote a novel, (on Gatsby—change of many thousand wds) from Max Perkins who never considered writing one, and on T. S. of Paradise from Katherine Tighe (you don’t know her) who had probably never read a novel before.

[This is beginning to sound like my own current work which resolves itself into laborious + sententious preliminaries]. The brackets in this letter are Fitzgerald’s—MJB.

Anyhow I think parts of Sun Also are careless + ineffectual. As I said yestiday (and, as I recollect, in trying to get you to cut the 1st part of 50 Grand) I find in you the same tendency to envelope or (and as it usually turns out) to embalm in mere wordiness an anecdote or joke thats casually appealed to you, that I find in myself in trying to preserve a piece of “finewriting.” Your first chapter contains about 10 such things and it gives a feeling of condescending casuallness

P. 1. “highly moral story”
“Brett said” (O. Henry stuff)
“much too expensive”
“something or other” (If you don’t want to tell, why waste 3 wds. saying it. See P. 23—29 or 14” and “or how many years it was since 19XX” when it would take two words to say That’s what youd kid in anyone else as mere “style”—mere horse-shit I can’t find this latter but anyhow you’ve not only got to write well yourself but you’ve also got to scorn not-do what anyone can do and I think that there are about 24 sneers, superiorities, and nose-thumbings-at-nothing that mar the whole narrative up to p. 29 where (after a false start on the introduction of Cohn) it really gets going. And to preserve these perverse and willful non-essentials you’ve done a lot of writing that honestly reminded me of Michael Arlen.

[You know the very fact that people have committed themselves to you will make them watch you like a cat. + if they don’t like it creap away like one]

For example.
Pps. 1 + 2. Snobbish (not in itself but because the history of English Aristocrats in the war, set down so verbosely so uncritically, so exteriorly and yet so obviously inspired from within, is shopworn.) You had the same problem that I had with my Rich Boy, previously debauched by Chambers ect. Either bring more thot to it with the realization that that ground has already raised its wheat + weeds or cut it down to seven sentences. It hasn’t even your rythym and the fact that may be “true” is utterly immaterial.

That biography from you, who allways believed in the superiority (the preferability) of the imagined to the seen not to say to the merely recounted.

P. 3 “Beautifully engraved shares” (Beautifully engraved 1886 irony) All this is O.K. but so glib when its glib + so profuse.

P. 5 Painters are no longer real in prose. They must be minimized. [This is not done by making them schlptors, backhouse wall-experts or miniature painters]

P. 8. “highly moral urges” “because I believe its a good story” If this paragraph isn’t maladroit then I’m a rewrite man for Dr. Cadman.

P. 9. Somehow its not good. I can’t quite put my hand on it—it has a ring of “This is a true story ect.”

P. 10. “Quarter being a state of mind ect.” This is in all guide books. I havn’t read Basil Swoon’s but I have fifty francs to lose.

[About this time I can hear you say “Jesus this guy thinks I’m lousy, + he can stick it up his ass for all I give a Gd Dm for his ’critisism.’ “ But remember this is a new departure for you, and that I think your stuff is great. You were the first American I wanted to meet in Europe—and the last. (This latter clause is simply to balance the sentence. It doesn’t seem to make sense tho I have pawed at it for several minutes. Its like the age of the French women.

P. 14. (+ therabout) as I said yesterday I think this anecdote is flat as hell without naming Ford which would be cheap.

It’s flat because you end with mention of Allister Crowly. If he’s nobody its nothing. If he’s somebody, its cheap. This is a novel. Also I’d cut out actual mention of H. Stearns earlier.

Why not cut the inessentials in Cohens biography? His first marriage is of no importance. When so many people can write well + the competition is so heavy I can’t imagine how you could have done these first 20 pps. so casually. You can’t play with peoples attention—a good man who has the power of arresting attention at will must be especially careful.

From here Or rather from p. 30 I began to like the novel but Ernest I can’t tell you the sense of disappointment that beginning with its elephantine facetiousness gave me. Please do what you can about it in proof. Its 7500 words—you could reduce it to 5000. And my advice is not to do it by mere pareing but to take out the worst of the scenes.

I’ve decided not to pick at anything else, because I wasn’t at all inspired to pick when reading it. I was much too excited. Besides this is probably a heavy dose. The novel’s damn good. The central theme is marred somewhere but hell! unless you’re writing your life history where you have an inevitable pendulum to swing you true (Harding metaphor), who can bring it entirely off? And what critic can trace whether the fault lies in a possible insufficient thinking out, in the biteing off of more than you eventually cared to chew in the impotent theme or in the elusiveness of the lady character herself. My theory always was that she dramatized herself in terms of Arlens dramatization of somebody’s dramatizatatg of Stephen McKenna’s dramatization of Diana Manner’s dramatization of the last girl in Well’s Tono Bungay—who’s original probably liked more things about Beatrix Esmond than about Jane Austin’s Elizibeth (to whom we owe the manners of so many of our wives.)

Appropos of your foreward about the Latin quarter—suppose you had begun your stories with phrases like: “Spain is a peculiar place—ect” or “Michigan is interesting to two classes—the fisherman + the drummer.”

Pps 64 + 65 with a bit of work should tell all that need be known about Brett’s past.

(Small point) “Dysemtry” instead of “killed” is a cliches to avoid a cliche. It stands out. I suppose it can’t be helped. I suppose all the 75,000000 Europeans who died between 1914-1918 will always be among the 10,000,000 who were killed in the war.

God! The bottom of p. 77 Jusque the top p. 78 are wonderful, I go crazy when people aren’t always at their best. This isn’t picked out—I just happened on it. Chapter six: the scene in which Frances Clyne berates Cohn for leaving her—MJB.

The heart of my critisim beats somewhere apon p. 87. Chapter seven: the scene in which Brett comes to Jake’s flat—MJB. I think you can’t change it, though. I felt the lack of some crazy torturing tentativeness or insecurity—horror, all at once, that she’d feel—and he’d feel—maybe I’m crazy. He isn’t like an impotent man. He’s like a man in a sort of moral chastity belt.

Oh, well. It’s fine, from Chap V on, anyhow, in spite of that—which fact is merely a proof of its brilliance.

Station Z.W.X. square says good night. Good night all.43

Fitzgerald’s response to the novel was complicated by his dislike for Duff Twysden, the model for Brett Ashley. In the typescript and galleys of The Sun Also Rises, Chapter I provides a history of Brett Ashley’s marital background; Chapter II describes Jake’s Paris life and friends. Hemingway took Fitzgerald’s advice and killed all this expository material up to “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton” in Chapter II, which opens the published novel.

Fitzgerald’s document was supplemented by long talks with Hemingway, for they saw each other daily at Juan-les-Pins. Beyond providing a memo on particular points in the typescript, Fitzgerald’s report served to prepare Hemingway for discussion—and to protect himself. As his opening paragraph shows, Fitzgerald knew he was playing with fire in criticizing the novel. Hemingway not only took Fitzgerald’s advice about cutting the novel, but decided it was his own idea. On 5 June, Hemingway wrote Perkins that Fitzgerald was reading the novel and agreed that the first two chapters should be cut. Hoping to get more money for Hemingway’s short stories, Fitzgerald tried to persuade him to let Harold Ober represent him, but Hemingway was unwilling to have an agent.

Zelda also read The Sun Also Rises. When asked what it was about, she said, “Bullfighting, bullslinging, and bull…” Fitzgerald cut heroff, telling her not to speak about Hemingway that way. The Zelda-Hemingway relationship did not improve. When Zelda asked him if he didn’t think Al Jolson was greater than Christ, Hemingway became convinced that she was truly insane.

Except for a trip to Paris in June for Zelda’s appendectomy, the Fitzgeralds remained on the Riviera that summer and did not join the Hemingways and Murphys on their July trip to Pamplona for the San Fermin fiesta. (Fitzgerald never attended a bullfight with Hemingway. ) He did not make significant progress on his novel, which Zelda remarked “goes so slow it ought to be serialized in the Encyclopedia Britannica.” He considered changing the title from “Our Type” to “The World’s Fair.” Though he continued to send Perkins and Ober sanguine forecasts, Fitzgerald’s work in the summer and fall of 1926 was mainly devoted to rewriting the opening of the first draft, adding a narrator. He was aware that much of the effectiveness of The Great Gatsby resulted from the use of Nick Carraway as narrator. It was therefore natural that he would attempt to adapt this technique to his next novel; however, he did not do so until after he had tried a third-person narrative. The narrator Fitzgerald supplied in 1926 is a nameless American who is not integrated into the plot. He interjects comments but does not certify the story or control the narrative. The manuscript for the 1926 narrator version advances the plot by a chapter that covers Francis’s trip to Paris with the Pipers and Abe. A fuller typescript for the narrator version probably represents a later stage of revision.

Fitzgerald’s drinking behavior became increasingly erratic on the Riviera in 1926, placing a strain on his friendship with the Murphys. At this time Fitzgerald began introducing himself to new acquaintances by announcing, “I’m an alcoholic.” When the Murphys gave a party for the Hemingways at the Juan-les-Pins casino, Fitzgerald threw ashtrays until Gerald left his own party. Fitzgerald could not bear to be ignored, and his attempts to get attention were too often atrocious. At one Villa America dinner party he threw a fig at the Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, punched Murphy, and smashed the Venetian stemware. This exhibition got him banished from the Murphys’ villa for three weeks. Moreover, having chosen the Murphys as the models for Seth and Dinah Piper in his novel, Fitzgerald subjected them to steady interrogation and analysis. Sara protested in writing:

—But you can’t expect anyone to like or stand a Continual feeling of analysis + sub-analysis, + criticism—on the whole unfriendly—Such as wehave felt for quite awhile. It is definitely in the air,— + quite unpleasant.—It certainly detracts from any gathering,— + Gerald, for one, simply curls up at the edges + becomes someone else in that sort of atmosphere. And last night you even said “that you had never seen Gerald so silly + rude”— It’s hardly likely that I should Explain Gerald,—or Gerald me—to you. If you don’t know what people are like it’s your loss—And if Gerald was “rude” in getting up + leaving a party that had gotten quite bad,—then he was rude to the Hemingways + MacLeishes too—No, it is hardly likely that you would stick at a thing like Manners—it is more probably some theory you have,—(it may be something to do with the book).—But you ought to know at your age that you Can’t have Theories about friends— If you Can’t take friends largely, + without suspicion—then they are not friends at all—. We Cannot—Gerald + I—at our age— + stage in life—be bothered with Sophomoric situations—like last night—We are very simple people—(unless we feel ourselves in a collegiate quagmire)—and we are literally + actually fond of you both—(There is no reason for saying this that I know of—unless we meant it.)

This letter was written less than a year after Gerald’s tribute to the deep understanding between the two couples.

The Fitzgeralds’ behavior as a couple became ominous and dangerous. One evening the Murphys were dining with them in the hills above the Mediterranean at St. Paul-de-Vence, where they encountered Isadora Duncan. When Fitzgerald responded to the dancer’s attentions, Zelda wordlessly threw herself headfirst down a flight of stone steps. Their frequent quarrels were known to their friends because Zelda would pack a trunk and leave it outside their villa. Zelda dared Fitzgerald to match her risky antics, and their competition sometimes seemed to reveal a mutual destructive compulsion. One night he accepted her challenge to do a series of dangerous high dives from the cliffs into the sea. Their alcoholic car trips were a peril to themselves and anyone else on the road. Some nights they didn’t make it home, falling asleep in their car. Gerald Murphy’s assessment of the Fitzgeralds’ nocturnal habits is that they wanted something to happen every night: “I don’t think it was parties that started Scott and Zelda on their adventures… Their idea was that they never depended upon parties. I don’t think they cared very much for parties, so called, and I don’t think they stayed at them very long. They were all out, always searching for some kind of adventure outside of the party. … it didn’t need, take a party to start them or anything of that kind. And they didn’t stay around very much. They usually had their own funnylittle plans—they’d be with you for awhile and then they’d disappear and go on to some other place—and then you’d see them again somehow—-they’d seek you out again.” When Sara Murphy warned Zelda about this behavior, she replied, “But Sara, didn’t you know? We don’t believe in conservation.” A decade later Sara recalled her impressions of Zelda in a letter to Fitzgerald:

—I think of her face so often + so wish it had been drawn (not painted, drawn.) It is rather like a young Indian’s face, except for the smouldering eyes. At night, I remember, if she was excited, they turned black— + impenetrable—but always full of impatience—at something—, the world I think—she wasn’t of it anyhow—not really.

I loved her. + felt a sympathetic vibration to her violence. But she wasn’t throttled,—you mustnt ever think she was except by herself—She had an inward life + feelings that I don’t suppose anyone ever touched— not even you—She probably thought terribly dangerous secret thoughts— + had pent-in rebellions. Some of it showed through her eyes,—but only to those who loved her.

Under Hemingway’s influence Fitzgerald—who was normally puritanical in his speech—developed a streak of scatological humor. He sent Hemingway a parody of the In Our Time vignettes: “We were in a back house in Juan-les-Pins. Bill had lost controll of his splincter muscles. There were wet Matins in the rack beside the door. There were wet Eclairers de Nice in the rack over his head. When the King of Bulgaria came in Bill was just firing a burst that struck the old limeshit twenty feet down with a splat-tap. All the rest came just like that. The King of Bulgaria began to whirl round and round.” Hemingway announced that he was planning to insert a subtitle in his novel:

A Greater Gatsby
(Written with the friendship of F. Scott FitzGerald.
(Prophet of THE JAZZ AGE)

Zelda—who was by no means prudish—was put off by Hemingway’s bawdry.

Fitzgerald’s boon companion on the Riviera that summer was playwright Charles MacArthur, with whom he collaborated in alcoholic pranks. They threatened to saw a waiter in half with a musical saw; they lured a band to the Villa St. Louis and locked them in a room to provide music for them; they took the waiters from a cafe to the edge of a cliff and threatened to murder them. Some of MacArthur’s qualities were transferred to Abe North in Tender Is the Night. With Ben Finney they made a movie at Grace Moore’s villa on the grounds of the Hotel du Cap; called Love’s Betrayal, or a Simple Story of Incest, it featured obscene titles written on the walls of the villa. Finney, an American bon vivant, was a popular figure at Antibes. Fitzgerald respected his judgment and discussed the novel-in-progress with him. Egon, Finney’s police dog, liked to aquaplane but could not get started by himself, so he would pester Fitzgerald to help him.

Another Riviera acquaintance was Mario Braggiotti (Braggiotti is not sure which summer he knew the Fitzgeralds, but his recollections tie in with the events of 1926.), a young musician staying with the Murphys, who has described Fitzgerald as a “mood-picker”—referring to his habit of quizzing people and analyzing them. Braggiotti had the impression that Fitzgerald “discovered Zelda every minute.” Other people sometimes found her conversation hard to follow, but Fitzgerald encouraged her to talk and always understood her. Braggiotti had a crush on Zelda, which did not seem to bother Fitzgerald. Although twelve years younger than Fitzgerald, Braggiotti regarded him as unsophisticated; Fitzgerald seemed almost boyishly eager for knowledge and was trying to read his way through the Britannica. Braggiotti, an American born in Italy, went into the amalgam of models for Tommy Barban in Tender Is the Night.

When the Riviera season was over in September 1926, Fitzgerald tried to settle down to work on his novel; but it was a wasted year, as indicated by his Ledger summary: “Futile, shameful useless but the $30,000 rewards of 1924 work. Self disgust. Health gone.” In December the Fitzgeralds sailed for America from Genoa after two and a half years abroad. With the exception of his work on The Great Gatsby in 1924, the European sojourn had been a failure. They had not saved money; their lives had become increasingly disorganized; he had become an alcoholic; their marriage had developed permanent strains; and he had not done any steady work for more than a year. Having gone to France to escape the distractions of New York, they now returned to America to escape the dissipations of France.

33 Hollywood and “Ellerslie” [January 1927-Spring 1928]

Fitzgerald professed tobe dismayed by the American scene. In his 1927 interviews he made the obligatory comparisons between France and America: “The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older—intelligence and good manners.”

The Fitzgeralds spent Christmas in Montgomery and considered where to settle in America. In January producer John W. Considine of United Artists asked Fitzgerald to come to Hollywood and write an original flapper comedy for Constance Talmadge. The deal called for $3,500 down and $12,500 when the script was accepted. Fitzgerald was confident of his ability to meet the Hollywood standards within a month. Leaving Scottie with his parents, who had moved to Washington, he and Zelda went to California for what proved to be a two-month stint. They took an apartment at the Ambassador Hotel, where they shared a unit with Carmel Myers, John Barrymore, and Carl Van Vechten. Although Fitzgerald intended to finish the job as quickly as possible, they inevitably became involved in Hollywood social life, being invited to many parties and crashing others.

The most important event of Fitzgerald’s first Hollywood trip was his meeting with actress Lois Moran, probably through Van Vechten. Not yet eighteen, she had made her first movie success in Stella Dallas in 1925. Fitzgerald, who was thirty, was attracted to her because she was young, beautiful, and intelligent—and because he could show off for her. She was impressed by him and flattered by his attention, but she did not fall in love with him. In fact, Fitzgerald was never alonewith Lois Moran, who lived with her widowed mother. An indication of Fitzgerald’s involvement is that he took a screen test with the idea of acting with her, but nothing resulted from it. She had been carefully raised by her mother, whom Fitzgerald admired. But even with the Morans his behavior was unpredictable. When they invited the Fitzgeralds to a large tea, he collected the watches, purses, and wallets of the guests and tried to make soup out of them.

Zelda recognized Lois Moran’s appeal to Fitzgerald, describing her as “a young actress like a breakfast food that many men identified with whatever they missed from life.” When the Fitzgeralds quarreled about his interest in Lois, he said that he admired her because she didsomething with her talents that required work and discipline. Zelda expressed her resentment by burning her clothes in a bathtub at the Ambassador.

The script Fitzgerald delivered to United Artists was called “Lipstick.” Set at Princeton, its heroine is a girl who has been unjustly imprisoned and now has a magic lipstick that makes every man want to kiss her. It was a thin screenplay, for Fitzgerald had again written down to the movies. While working on it, he quarreled with Constance Talmadge, which probably hurt the project’s chances. The script was rejected, and Fitzgerald did not receive the $12,500 balance. Instead of supplying easy money, the Hollywood excursion consumed more than the $3,500 advance. On the way east the Fitzgeralds again quarreled about Lois Moran, and Zelda threw her platinum wristwatch—the first expensive thing he had given her, in 1920—from the train window. Although Fitzgerald would see Lois Moran only three or four times again, she became a presence in his work and provided the model for Rosemary Hoyt in Tender Is the Night.

Fitzgerald met another figure in Hollywood who would yield him material for a novel: Irving Thalberg, the “boy wonder” head of production at M-G-M. Some twelve years later Fitzgerald made a memo for The Last Tycoon of his first impressions of Thalberg:

We sat in the old commissary at Metro and he said, “Scottie, supposing there’s got to be a road through a mountain—a railroad and two or three surveyors and people come to you and you believe some of then and some of them you don’t believe; but all in all, there seems to be half a dozen possible roads through those mountains each one of which, so far as you can determine, is as good as the other. Now suppose you happen to be the top man, there’s a point where you don’t exercise the faculty of judgment in the ordinary way, but simply the faculty of arbitrary decision. You say, ’Well, I think we will put the road there,’ and you trace it with your finger and you know in your secret heart and no one else knows, that you have no reason for putting the road there rather than in several other different courses, but you’re the only person that knows that you don’t know why you’re doing it and You’ve got to stick to that and you’ve got to pretend that you know and that you did it for specific reasons, even though you’re utterly assailed by doubts at times as to the wisdom of your decision because all these other possible decisions keep echoing in your ear. But when you’re planning a new enterprise on a grand scale, the people under you mustn’t ever know or guess that you’re in any doubt because they’ve all got to have something to look up to and they mustn’t ever dream that you’re in doubt about any decision. Those things keep occurring.”

At that point, some other people came into the commissary and sat down and first thing I knew there was a group of four and the intimacy of the conversation was broken, but I was very much impressed by the shrewdness of what he said—something more than shrewdness—by the largeness of what he thought and how he reached it at the age of 26 which he was then.

The Fitzgeralds began house-hunting in the Wilmington, Delaware, area—possibly at the suggestion of Maxwell Perkins, who thought it would be sufficiently remote from the temptations of New York. John Biggs, Fitzgerald’s Princeton roommate whose first novel, Demigods, had been published by Scribners in 1926 at Fitzgerald’s recommendation, was a Wilmington lawyer. He helped them to find “Ellerslie,” a nineteenth-century Greek Revival mansion at Edgemoor on the Delaware River. The house was too large for them; but the rent was only $150 a month, and they took a two-year lease. Zelda later wrote: “The squareness of the rooms and the sweep of the columns were to bring us a judicious tranquility.” The anticipated reclusion was delayed by a series of house parties. One of the first was for Lois Moran and her mother on the weekend of 21 May 1927, when Lindbergh flew the Atlantic. The guests included Charles MacArthur, Carl Van Vechten, and critic Ernest Boyd. Zelda kept her resentment of Lois under control, and there was no unpleasantness. Another weekend, when Cousin CecI’s daughter Teah was invited to “Ellerslie,” Fitzgerald organized a polo match with farm horses and croquet mallets, but the party was spoiled because he drank too much in an effort to make things go.

Fitzgerald tried to promote Hemingway’s reputation in America, although The Sun Also Rises had already launched his fame. He was eager to obtain Mencken’s endorsement for Hemingway, but the Baltimore Sage did not share his judgment that Hemingway was “the best we have.” When Fitzgerald read Hemingway’s story “In Another Country,” he wrote him that “ ’In the fall the war was always there but we did not go to it any more’ is one of the most beautiful prose sentences I’ve ever read.” Fitzgerald enclosed a $100 check to help Hemingway until his books started earning money.

At “Ellerslie,” Zelda initiated a period of creative activity—almost certainly in reaction to Fitzgerald’s admiration for Lois Moran—and went to Philadelphia three times a week for lessons with Catherine Littlefield, director of the Philadelphia Opera ballet. She also resumed writing and in 1927 sold three articles: “The Changing Beauty of Park Avenue” to Harper’s Bazaar, “Looking Back Eight Years” to College Humor, and “Editorial on Youth” to Photoplay (published as “Paint and Powder” by the Smart Set in 1929 under Fitzgerald’s byline). Most of her work was published under the joint byline “F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald” because the magazines insisted on using his name. At first Zelda seemed amused that her writing was salable only with her husband’s name on it; but as their marriage became openly competitive, Zelda resented the arrangement. (In his Ledger Fitzgerald punctiliously identified her five articles and five stories that were published as collaborations. One article and two stories by Zelda were published under Fitzgerald’s byline.) Her creative energies also found expression in designing oversized furniture for the large rooms at “Ellerslie” and in constructing an elaborate doll house for Scottie. Shelavished time on several series of detailed paper dolls for historical figures and fairy tales with changes of costume painted in thick water-color: the Knights of the Round Table, the Court of Louis XIV, Joan of Arc, Goldilocks, and Red Riding Hood. A set of dolls for the family featured Fitzgerald with angel’s wings.

Fitzgerald had promised to complete his novel in 1927, but little progress was made. In June he considered changing the title to “The Boy Who Killed his Mother.” It is difficult to gauge Fitzgerald’s progress on his novel during 1927-28. The sporadic effort he put into it seems to have been revision of the narrator version of the Melarky plot. He received an advance from Scribners in 1927, which was to be repaid from the serial sale. With his sometimes arcane system of accounting he carefully listed this advance as $5,752.06. His account with the Reynolds agency shows that in the fall-winter of 1927 he received at least one advance against stories each week: 1 September, $500; 8 September, $500; 15 September, $500; 22 September, $300. He borrowed $1,450 in October, $2,200 in November, and $2,650 in December.

The money for subsidiary rights from The Great Gatsby had been spent, and Fitzgerald resumed writing magazine stories in June 1927 after a fifteen-month break. The first 1927 Post story, “Jacob’s Ladder,” is permeated by Lois Moran. A cultured man of thirty-three helps a sixteen-year-old shopgirl to become a movie star. Pygmalion-like, he falls in love with his creation but loses her to her success. Passages from the story were later incorporated into Tender Is the Night; and the girl’s name, Jenny Prince, was an early name for Rosemary Hoyt in the novel drafts. Full of regret, loss, and loneliness, “Jacob’s Ladder” is a projection of Fitzgerald’s feelings at thirty.

Another June project was the article “Princeton” for College Humor. Fitzgerald’s proximity to Princeton revived his love for the university and recalled his years of aspiration:

Looking back over a decade one sees the ideal of a university become a myth, a vision, a meadow lark among the smoke stacks. Yet perhaps it is there at Princeton, only more elusive than under the skies of the Prussian Rhineland or Oxfordshire; or perhaps some men come upon it suddenly and possess it, while others wander forever outside. Even these seek in vain through middle age for any corner of the republic that preserves so much of what is fair, gracious, charming and honorable in American life.

Again, the concluding mood is one of loss.

Fitzgerald wrote four other Post stories in 1927: “The LoveBoat” (written in August, it brought a raise to $3,500), “A Short Trip Home” (October), “The Bowl” (November), and “Magnetism” (December). In “A Short Trip Home,” which he described as “the first real ghost story I ever wrote,” an undergraduate frees a college girl from a spectre. Once more, Fitzgerald connected sexual corruption with death. Work on “The Bowl,” a football story, rekindled Fitzgerald’s interest in Princeton football as he made trips to watch practice or attend games. He began offering football coach Fritz Crisler advice—sometimes in the form of late-night phone calls. On one of his Princeton trips he rearranged the furniture in a room at the Cottage Club so that it would be the same as when he was an undergraduate.

There were regular trips from Wilmington to New York, where the Fitzgeralds stayed at the Plaza. Zelda remarked, “We come up for a weekend, then wake up and it’s Thursday.” On one of these excursions they went to a party for heavyweight champion Gene Tunney with the Morans and George Jean Nathan. Fitzgerald stuck close to Tunney all evening and did not want to leave. Going back to the Plaza in a cab, he saw a forlorn newsboy in the rain and bought all his papers.

The year 1927 brought a series of nervous ailments, which may be what Fitzgerald was referring to in three puzzling Ledger notes for August-September: “Terrible incessant stopies begin”; “Stoppies worse”; “Stoppies now reached its height.” When Perkins visited “Ellerslie” in September, he came away worried that Fitzgerald was in danger of a nervous breakdown related to his inability to settle down to steady work on the novel. Perkins reported to Hemingway that “tobacco was hurting him more than drink,” and persuaded Fitzgerald to switch from Chesterfields to Sano denicotinized cigarettes. Fitzgerald remained a heavy cigarette smoker all his life, but he stuck with Sanos. At Perkins’s urging he went on the wagon in October—or claimed he did. Like most alcoholics, Fitzgerald had his own interpretations of what being on the wagon meant at various times; sometimes it meant restricting himself to beer and wine. Perkins also tried to have him take up deck tennis as a form of regular exercise.

Fitzgerald’s Ledger summary of his thirtieth year was “Total loss at beginning. A lot of fun. Work begins again.” Although Fitzgerald did not publish a book in 1927, his income for the year had reached a new high of $29,757.87 after commissions—including $15,300 from five stories. His total book royalties were $153.23. He paid federal tax of $1,330.29.

Stimulated by his revived love of Princeton, Fitzgerald accepted an invitation to speak at a Cottage Club dinner in late January 1928. In the afternoon he talked movingly about Princeton to an informal group of undergraduates at Cottage. Anxious to make a good impression, he was intimidated and probably drunk when he began his formal speech in the evening; after a few nervous sentences he sat down. During this visit Fitzgerald was distressed to discover that the honor system was being diluted. He arrived home crying drunk over his speaking fiasco and his concern about the honor system. While Zelda’s sister Rosalind was visiting “Ellerslie” with her husband, during Fitzgerald’s absence, Zelda had broken into the liquor cabinet. Fitzgerald and Zelda quarreled violently when he ordered her to bed, and he gave her a bloody nose.

In February they accepted a trip to Montreal from the Canadian railways, but Fitzgerald found nothing to write about there. From Canada he sent Scottie a series of postcards signed “The man with three noses,” a comic figure he had invented for her. That month Thornton Wilder—whose first novel, The Cabala, had been published in 1926—visited “Ellerslie”; he and Fitzgerald exchanged admiring letters, but no close friendship developed.

34 Third Trip Abroad: A Summer in Paris [1928]

Zelda pursued herballet ambitions with increasing intensity in 1928. She spent hours every day in almost furious practice to make her twenty-eight-year-old body capable of professional dancing. Fitzgerald began to resent her discipline, feeling that it reflected on his own work habits. In April 1928 the Fitzgeralds went to Paris for the summer—crossing on the Paris—partly because they were bored in Wilmington but mostly because Zelda wanted to work with the Russian ballet. They rented an apartment at 58 rue de Vaugirard on the Left Bank; and Zelda took lessons from Lubov Egorova, a former ballerina who was regarded as one of the leading teachers.

Fitzgerald perceived that Paris had changed appallingly—or rather that the Americans coming there were grotesque. Paris had been transmogrified from the intellectual capital of the world to a vast tourist attraction. “With each new shipment of Americans spewed up by the boom the quality fell off, until toward the end there was something sinister about the crazy boatloads… There were citizens travelling in luxury in 1928 and 1929 who, in the distortion of their new condition, had the human value of Pekinese, bivalves, cretins, goats.”

The Paris trip was financed by the Basil Duke Lee stories for the Post, nine of which were written between March 1928 and February 1929: “The Scandal Detectives” (March), “The Freshest Boy” (April), “A Night at the Fair” (May), “He Thinks He’s Wonderful” (July), “The Captured Shadow” (September), “The Perfect Life” (October), “Forging Ahead” (January 1929), “Basil and Cleopatra” (February). Fitzgerald’s first series (Unlike a serial, which continues a novel through installments, a series repeats the same characters in unconnected or loosely connected stories. Series stories were a staple of The Saturday Evening Post. The readers liked them, and the writers usually found them easier than inventing new characters.), these stories examine Basil fromboyhood in the Midwest through prep school in the East and into Yale. The identification between Basil and Fitzgerald is close; the chief episodes were drawn from the author’s experiences—the production of The Captured Shadow, his unpopularity at Newman, his love for Ginevra King. The timing was right for a retrospective self-assessment by Fitzgerald, whose professional life and personal life were breaking down at thirty-one. Like many writers, he could best understand things by writing about them. After tracing his adolescent struggles for popularity and recognition, the series ends with a matured Basil in control of his romantic destiny in “Basil and Cleopatra” after he relinquishes the girl he has loved: “There was a flurry of premature snow in the air and the stars looked cold. Staring up at them he saw that they were his stars as always—symbols of ambition, struggle and glory. The wind blew through them, trumpeting that high white note for which he always listened, and the thin-blown clouds, stripped for battle, passed in review. The scene was of an unparalleled brightness and magnificence, and only the practiced eye of the commander saw that one star was no longer there.”

Fitzgerald may not have planned a series of Basil stories, but they were easy to write because he had ample material; and they brought $31,500. He was a little embarrassed by the Basil series: not by the stories themselves, most of which were excellent, but by the circumstance that he was writing stories about adolescents for the Post. Concerned that he was going the way of Booth Tarkington, he refused to publish the Basil stories as a separate volume. He believed that Tarkington had wasted one of the best talents in American prose and wrote himself a warning note about Tarkington’s career: “I have a horror of going into a personal debauch and coming out of it devitalized with no interest except an acute observation of the behavior of colored people, children, and dogs.”

Fitzgerald had gone to Paris with the intention of finishing his novel there and sent optimistic reports to Perkins and Ober. On 3 June 1928 he cabled Ober: TWO MORE  CHAPTERS FINISHED ALL COMPLETED AUGUST CAN YOU DEPOSIT ONEFIFTY AT ONCE AND ONETHOUSAND WHEN STORY IS PAID. In July he wrote Perkins: “The novel goes fine. I think its quite wonderful + I think those who’ve seen it (for I’ve read it around a little) have been quite excited. I was encouraged theother day, when James Joyce came to dinner, when he said, ’Yes, I expect to finish my novel [Finnegans Wake] in three or four years more at the latest + he works 11 hrs a day to my intermittent 8. Mine will be done sure in September.” He had met Joyce on 27 June at a dinner given by Sylvia Beach. Also present were Adrienne Monnier (proprietor of the bookstore La Maison des Amis des Livres), Nora Joyce, Zelda, and Andre and Lucie Chamson. Fitzgerald commemorated the occasion with a drawing of himself kneeling before the haloed Joyce in Sylvia Beach’s copy of The Great Gatsby, captioning it the “Festival of St. James.” At one of their meetings Fitzgerald distressed Joyce by offering to jump out the window as an expression of admiration. (Sylvia Beach’s dinner is described in her Shakespeare & Co. Herbert Gorman reports a Beach dinner for the Joyces and Fitzgeralds at which the Gormans were present but the Chamsons were absent. Gorman records that Fitzgerald had previously called on the Joyces and threatened to jump from the sixth-floor window unless Nora declared her love for him. It is impossible to be sure whether there were two separate Beach dinners or whether Gorman’s account is untrustworthy.) When Joyce inscribed Ulysses for Fitzgerald, he enclosed a note referring to Fitzgerald’s gesture:

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald: Here with is the book you gave me signed and I am adding a portrait of the artist as a once young man with the thanks of your much obliged but most pusillanamous guest.
Sincerely yours James Joyce 11.7.928

The Joyces came to dinner at the Fitzgeralds’ apartment, and Fitzgerald was annoyed because Zelda did not share his adulation for Joyce. Zelda’s ballet work was a continuing source of strife. Fitzgerald resented her dedication to the dance and was angry when she was too tired to go out with him at night. He went drinking by himself and landed in jail twice that summer.

Fitzgerald had never become involved in French literary life, but in June he had asked Sylvia Beach to introduce him to a young French writer whom she thought he would like. She had brought him together with Andre Chamson, a twenty-eight-year-old civil servant and novelist. That Chamson spoke little English and Fitzgerald poor French was not an impediment to their warm friendship—the only literary friendship Fitzgerald formed with a Frenchman. As always, Fitzgerald’s instinct was to help a younger writer. He urged Perkins to consider Chamson’s Les Hommes de la Route, which Scribners published as The Road in 1929. (Chamson’s books were not popular in America, but he became a distinguished novelist and a member of the French Academy.) The Chamsons, who lived in modest circumstances, were sometimes embarrassed by Fitzgerald’s lavish hospitality. He gave Chamson his ties and handkerchiefs that Zelda had bought. When she protested, Fitzgerald explained that he wouldn’t have given them to Chamson if he hadn’t liked them. Chamson had his share of the problems caused by Fitzgerald’s alcoholic behavior. Fitzgerald perched on the window railing of the Chamsons’ sixth-floor apartment and proclaimed to Paris, “I am Voltaire! I am Rousseau!” When Fitzgerald tried to buy the bicycles from two gendarmes who concluded that they were being insulted, it required considerable eloquence by Chamson to persuade the flics that Fitzgerald was a great American writer and shouldn’t be arrested. Fitzgerald’s generosity impressed Chamson as an American characteristic. He felt that Fitzgerald was never happy at the time of their friendship, but that he pretended he was by trying to make his friends happy.

King Vidor, the American movie director, was in Paris that summer. Fitzgerald introduced him to Chamson, and the three planned a movie that Chamson was supposed to write for Vidor: “a mountain community, cut off from the world, puts itself to a huge collective task in order to be able to live.” The collaboration was abandoned when Chamson declined an invitation to Hollywood. (In 1934 Vidor made Our Daily Bread, which resembled the Chamson project.) Fitzgerald also introduced Vidor to Gerald Murphy. When Vidor made Hallelujah! (1929), the first major all-black movie, Murphy—who collected spirituals—went to Hollywood as an adviser.

Thornton Wilder was in Paris with Gene Tunney, who had intellectual ambitions, and arranged a gathering at the Ritz Bar that included Fitzgerald and Robert and Maude Hutchins. When Fitzgerald took his usual approach to a woman by flattering the young wife of the Yale Law School dean, she told him off for patronizing her and left with her husband. According to her report, Fitzgerald followed the Hutchins’ cab in another cab and tried to placate her whenever he caught up with them.

John Peale Bishop had married a wealthy woman and was living in a chateau at Orgeval outside Paris. He and Fitzgerald met for literary talk, though their intimate friendship was over—partly because Margaret Bishop didn’t like her husband’s friends and they disliked her. Sara Murphy commented on Margaret Bishop’s conversational style,“There can’t be that many words.” Despite the leisure provided by his wife’s money, Bishop had not published a book since The Undertaker’s Garland, written with Edmund Wilson in 1922. Fitzgerald reported to Perkins that Bishop’s novel was “impossible” (it was never published); but that his Civil War novelette was excellent. At Fitzgerald’s urging the novelette was submitted to Scribner’s Magazine, which turned it down because it was too long. The story was probably “The Cellar,” later collected in Many Thousands Gone  (Scribners, 1931).

The Fitzgeralds returned to America on 7 October 1928 in a “blaze of work + liquor,” crossing on the Carmania in a bad storm. The novel was still unfinished. Fitzgerald’s Ledger summary of his thirty-first year replaces harsh judgment with resignation: “Perhaps its the Thirties but I can’t even be very depressed about it.”

Fitzgerald brought a Paris taxi driver named Philippe back to “Ellerslie” as butler-chauffeur-sparring partner. Zelda disliked him because he was insubordinate to her. Fitzgerald took Philippe drinking with him, and John Biggs had to respond to late-night phone calls to get them out of jail. With a nice concern for social distinction, the Wilmington police would put Philippe in a cell but hold Fitzgerald in custody until Biggs arrived.

In October, Fitzgerald promised to begin sending Perkins two chapters a month until the novel was finished in eight chapters. Perkins acknowledged receipt of the first two chapters on 13 November 1928; there were no further chapters. Perkins reserved criticism, but his letter makes it clear that these chapters were the opening of the Melarky version on the Riviera.

On 19 November 1928 Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline, attended the Princeton-Yale football game at Princeton with the Fitzgeralds and spent the night at “Ellerslie.” Hemingway’s account of their first meeting in two years survives in an incomplete chapter intended for A Moveable Feast, which describes Fitzgerald’s drunken behavior on the train after the game and at “Ellerslie,” where he passed out. The next day there was an altercation with the police at the Wilmington train station. (A. E. Hotchner’s account of this visit in Papa Hemingway (New York: Random House, 1966) is untrustworthy.) On 6 December Hemingway was on the train from New York to Florida when he was informed that his father had died in Oak Park, Illinois. He wired Perkins, Mike Strater,and Fitzgerald to send money to the North Philadelphia station so he could go west. Fitzgerald delivered the money in person.

Fitzgerald made no progress on his novel in the fall and winter of 1928-29. In November he interrupted the Basil Duke Lee series to write “The Last of the Belles,” one of the best of the retrospective stories he wrote in 1928 and 1929. Set in Tarleton, Georgia, Fitzgerald’s version of Montgomery, the story deals with the Yankee narrator’s response to the South as expressed through his feelings for Ailie Calhoun, whom he meets while stationed in Tarleton during World War I. Six years later he returns, “looking for my youth in a clapboard or a strip of roofing or a rusty tomato can … All I could be sure of was that this place that had once been so full of life and effort was gone, as if it had never existed, and that in another month Ailie would be gone, and the South would be empty for me forever.” In addition to expressing Fitzgerald’s pervasive mood of loss, “The Last of theBelles” is Fitzgerald’s last fictional attempt to explain the South and its women.

Fitzgerald picked up a windfall of $1,500 in 1928 and 1929 by lending his name to the Woodbury soap beauty contest. The other judges were John Barrymore and Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. The judges’ photos and names were used in a series of ads, but it is unlikely that they selected the beauties.

Zelda continued her dancing with an obsessive concentration, working in front of a large mirror that Fitzgerald called her “whorehouse mirror.” The Fitzgeralds were having sexual problems. They accused each other of indifference, and Zelda complained he was an unsatisfactory lover.

35 Fourth Trip Abroad [Spring 1929]

When the leaseon “Ellerslie” expired in the spring of 1929, !the Fitzgeralds decided to return to Europe—partly so that Zelda could resume work with Egorova and partly because there was nothing to keep them in America. Fitzgerald may have hoped that he would be able to make progress on his novel if he worked in its setting.

At John Biggs’s urging Fitzgerald applied for a $60,000 insurance policy with the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada before returning to Europe. Somewhat to his surprise, he passed the physical examination. The premium was $741.91 per quarter. (The policy, which Fitzgerald maintained with difficulty, would constitute the bulk of his estate.) Despite the reassuring verdict of the insurance company’s doctor, Fitzgerald remained convinced that his tuberculosis was active. That September he was examined by a radiologist in Cannes. Although Fitzgerald interpreted it as a virtual death sentence, the report does not indicate an active case of tuberculosis. The x-rays showed that he had had tuberculosis, but in 1929 there was no evidence of an infiltrate or cavity. A smear test for acid-fast bacilli, which would have been conclusive, was not performed.

In March the Fitzgeralds took the Mediterranean route on the Conte Biancamano. Fitzgerald had promised Perkins that he would revise the third and fourth chapters on the boat and send them from Genoa, but failed to do so. An American woman who met them aboard ship kept a diary in which she noted that they were both “lit.” When Fitzgerald asked, “Do women like a man’s private parts large or small?” Zelda said, “Shut up Scott, you fool.” They spent March at the BeauRivage hotel in Nice, and again Fitzgerald was jailed for disorderly conduct. By early April they were in Paris, where they rented an apartment on the rue Mezieres near St. Sulpice.

Early in 1929 Fitzgerald helped Zelda plan a series of stories about types of girls for College Humor. Although the stories appeared with the byline “F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald,” they were written by Zelda and only polished by him. “The Original Follies Girl,” “The Southern Girl,” “The Girl the Prince Liked,” “The Girl with Talent,” and “The Poor Working Girl” were published between July 1929 and January 1931 at prices from $400 to $800. Fitzgerald thought they were worth more money, explaining to Ober in late September that “most of them have been pretty strong draughts on Zelda’s and my common store of material. This [“TThe Girl with Talent”] is Mary Hay for instance 4-the ’Girl the Prince Liked’ was Josephine Ordway both of whom I had in my notebook to use.” A sixth story by Zelda, “A Millionaire’s Girl,” appeared in the Post in 1929 under Fitzgerald’s name alone, and it brought $4,000. Ober explained: “I really felt a little guilty about dropping Zelda’s name from that story … but I think she understands that using the two names would have tied the story up with the College Humor series and might have got us into trouble.”

One of the motivations for Zelda’s short-story work was her desire to pay for her ballet lessons. Her morning and afternoon lessons at Egorova’s studio over the Olympia Music Hall cost $300 a month. There is no indication that Fitzgerald balked at paying for them, although he regarded her ambitions as impossible. She wanted the ballet to be something of her own and resented accepting his money for her lessons. Writing rapidly at the same time that she was dancing for hours every day increased the strain on her. Friends noticed Zelda’s distracted behavior: her silences interrupted by puzzling remarks and her inappropriate smiles. Fitzgerald later replied to Sara Murphy’s charge that he did not understand people—not even Zelda: “In an odd way, perhaps incredible to you, she was always my child… Outside of the realm of what you called Zelda’s ’terribly dangerous secret thoughts’ I was her great reality, often the only liaison agent who could make the world tangible to her—”

The fiction Zelda began writing in 1929 is characterized by wit, striking metaphors, words applied in unusual ways, and a rich sense of atmosphere. The opening of “A Millionaire’s Girl,” written in February 1930, displays Zelda’s lush style and her sensitivity to the moods of time and place:

Twilights were wonderful just after the war. They hung above New York like indigo wash, forming themselves from asphalt dust and sooty shadows under the cornices and limp gusts of air exhaled from closing windows, to hang above the streets with all the mystery of white fog rising off a swamp. The far-away lights from buildings high in the sky burned hazily through the blue, like golden objects lost in deep grass, and the noise of hurrying streets took on that hushed quality of many footfalls in a huge stone square. Through the gloom people went to tea. On all the corners around the Plaza Hotel, girls in short squirrel coats and long flowing skirts and hats like babies’ velvet bathtubs waited for the changing traffic to be suctioned up by the revolving doors of the fashionable grill. Under the scalloped portico of the Ritz, girls in short ermine coats and fluffy, swirling dresses and hats the size of manholes passed from the nickel glitter of traffic to the crystal glitter of the lobby.

The principal defect of her fiction is that it lacks story form and is essayistic. Fitzgerald acknowledged that Zelda was “a great original in her way, with perhaps a more intense flame at its highest than I ever had,” but insisted that she lacked education and discipline. “She isn’t a ’natural story-teller’ in the sense that I am, and unless a story comes to her fully developed and crying to be told she’s liable to flounder around rather unsuccessfully among problems of construction.” With her writing, as with her dancing, she started late and missed the apprenticeship that most professionals require.

Hemingway was in Paris in 1929, and Fitzgerald anticipated a resumption of their 1925-26 intimacy. He was hurt to learn that Hemingway was concealing his address from him because he did not want to deal with Fitzgerald’s drunken visits. Moreover, Pauline Hemingway disapproved of the Fitzgeralds. The status of the two writers had altered in the four years since their first meeting. Hemingway had become the most promising figure in American fiction, whereas Fitzgerald was regarded by many of their friends as a ruined drunk.

Fitzgerald was again eager to preview Hemingway’s new novel. Now convinced that Fitzgerald’s editorial advice was worthless, Hemingway reluctantly gave him a typescript of A Farewell to Arms, probably in June after serialization of the novel had begun in the May issue of Scribner’s Magazine. Fitzgerald prepared a nine-page holograph memo, on which Hemingway wrote “Kiss my ass.”

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 psycholicaljustification 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 Christans


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.)

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. Chapter 20: The account of Frederic and Catherine at the race track—MJB.

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 (ie. 2nd page numbered 129)

129 (NW) [Chapter 22: Miss Van Campen’s discovery of the bottles in Frederic’s hospital room.] 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

P. 130—
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. [Chapter 21: Frederic’s report of the British officer’s analysis of the war.]

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? [Chapter 21: Catherine’s announcement that she is pregnant.]

Remember the brave expectant illegitimmate mother is an old situation + has been exploited by all sorts of people you wo’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 dont-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!

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 the 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 [Chapter 30: Frederic’s arrest by the carabinieri and his escape.]

I think 293-294 need cutting but perhaps not to be cut altogether. [Opening of Chapter 40.]

It is the most eloquent in the book + could end it rather gently + well.

A beautiful book it is!

Kiss my ass EH

Fitzgerald’s main criticism was that Catherine Barkley’s speech was sometimes stagy and that her role as “brave expectant illegitimmate mother” had to be made fresh; he was also concerned about the typescript ending of the novel, which included a forecast of the characters’ lives after Catherine dies: “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 practical use in peace…He recommended that Hemingway replace this ending with Frederic Henry’s meditation after his reunion with Catherine at Stresa: “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.” Fitzgerald wrote on page 241 of the typescript, “This is one of the most beautiful pages in all English literature.” Although Hemingway repeatedly ridiculed Fitzgerald’s advice, he acted on some of it in revising A Farewell to Arms in proof. Henry’s cosmic ruminations at the opening of Chapter 40 (typescript pp. 293-94) were deleted. Hemingway tried to replace the original ending with the passage on typescript page 241 that Fitzgerald admired, before he wrote the famous understated published ending: “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.” Hemingway later insisted that Fitzgerald gave him the terrible advice to have Henry read about the American troops at Belleau Wood while Catherine was dying. This suggestion is not in Fitzgerald’s memo, but it could have been made in conversation. It was substantially the same advice that Perkins had offered Hemingway in May about re-combining the love and war themes at the end of the novel.

As reported in A Moveable Feast, Fitzgerald sought Hemingway’s counsel about Zelda’s complaint that his penis was too small to satisfy her. [The publication of A Moveable Feast resulted in public calibration of Fitzgerald’s penis. Two witnesses—Arnold Gingrich, who once saw Fitzgerald with his bathrobe open, and Sheilah Graham, who slept with him—attested that it was normal.] It is an indication of Fitzgerald’s respect for Hemingway’s expertise in masculine matters that he turned to him for help; but he should have known that his admission would provoke Hemingway’s contempt. After checking him in the men’s room, Hemingway assured him that he was normal and urged him to repair his confidence by sleeping with somebody else. “Zelda just wants to destroy you.”

Zelda extended her attack on Fitzgerald’s masculinity by charging that he was involved in a homosexual liaison with Hemingway, which hurt him more than anything else she said: “The nearest I ever came to leaving you was when you told me you thot I was a fairy in the Rue Palatine…” She cited as evidence his muttering “No more baby” in his sleep after coming home drunk from a meeting with Hemingway. Zelda’s accusation was especially painful to Fitzgerald because he had always been outspokenly contemptuous of “fairies.” It is fashionable to claim that men who are strongly biased against homosexuals are masking their sexual insecurities or compensating for impulses of which they are ashamed. (This charge has been frequently brought against Hemingway.) Anyone can be called a latent homosexual, but there is no evidence that Fitzgerald was ever involved in a homosexual attachment. His close friendships with men were expressions of his hero worship and generosity. If Father Fay was a homosexual, as has been asserted without proof, Fitzgerald was unaware of it. Fitzgerald observed in his Notebooks: “The great homosexual theses—that all great pansies were pansies.”

It is not known whether he reported Zelda’s accusation to Hemingway, but Fitzgerald began to worry that he was acquiring a reputation as a homosexual. He was not ready to dismiss Zelda’s charge as an indication that she was becoming deranged. (Suspicion about other people’s sexual behavior is one of the symptoms of schizophrenia; and impotence is sometimes a side-effect of alcoholism.) Intendingto verify his masculinity, Fitzgerald decided to try sleeping with a whore and purchased condoms; Zelda found them, and a bitter argument ensued. At the same time she was expressing these suspicions about her husband, Zelda became concerned that she was a latent lesbian. Fitzgerald was furious when Dolly Wilde, a notorious Paris “amazon,” made a pass at Zelda in May 1929. Although Zelda developed close attachments to several women, there is no evidence that she ever engaged in a lesbian affair.

Three of the seven Post stories Fitzgerald wrote in 1929—“The Rough Crossing” (March), “The Swimmers” (July-August), and “Two Wrongs” (October-November)—belong with his cycle of marriage-problem stories, which probe with increasing openness the wounds in the Fitzgerald marriage. In “The Rough Crossing,” based on the storm during the Fitzgeralds’ return to America in 1928, a marital crisis accompanies a storm at sea. A successful playwright and his wife are en route to Europe to get away from the distractions in America—a recurring situation in Fitzgerald’s fiction. When he becomes infatuated with a younger woman, his wife retaliates by involving herself with another man. At the height of the storm she throws her pearls overboard, recalling Zelda’s gesture with her watch in 1927. Since this was a Post story, the troubles pass with the storm. But the crisis could not be resolved so neatly in the Fitzgeralds’ marriage. Their resentments, betrayals, and retaliations festered. A more serious examination of marital betrayal is “Two Wrongs,” in which a Broadway producer loses his success and health through dissipation and egoism. At the same time, his wife begins her ballet career. When he develops tuberculosis and is sent west to die, she lets him go alone because she has earned the right to the career she has worked for. The story includes an analysis of the wife’s feelings about the dance, which was also Fitzgerald’s attempt to understand Zelda’s commitment: “She wanted to use herself on something she could believe in, and it seemed to her that the dance was woman’s interpretation of music; instead of strong fingers, one had limbs with which to render Tschaikowsky and Stravinski; and feet could be as eloquent in Chopiniana as voices in ’The Ring.’”

The most interesting of the 1929 stories is “The Swimmers.” Although it is flawed by a trick plot and—as Fitzgerald admitted—has too much material for its form, this story represents Fitzgerald’s attempt to synthesize his feelings about France and America after four trips abroad. Henry Clay Marston, an American living in Paris with hisFrench wife, suffers a nervous breakdown after finding her in a compromising situation. His recovery is assisted by an American girl who teaches him to swim. Marston and his wife move to America, but she is again unfathful. As he embarks for Europe after their divorce, Mars-ton’s feelings about America are expressed in an eloquent peroration:

Watching the fading city, the fading shore, from the deck of the Majestic, he had a sense of overwhelming gratitude and gladness that America was there, that under the ugly debris of industry the rich land still pushed up, incorrigibly lavish and fertile, and that in the heart of the leaderless people the old generosities and devotions fought on, breaking out sometimes in fanaticism and excess, but indomitable and undefeated. 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.

France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still that quality of the 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.

Though too profound for “The Swimmers,” this summary demonstrates that Fitzgerald’s response to his expatriate experience was a reinforcement of his identification with America—not just patriotism, but a deep emotional sense of its history and hopes. By one of the ironies that abound in Fitzgerald’s career, “The Swimmers” appeared in the Post issue for 19 October 1929, just before the Wall Street crash that terminated the era of American life Fitzgerald responded to so richly. The concluding passage from “The Swimmers” also served as Fitzgerald’s rebuttal to Gertrude Stein’s “lost generation” catch phrase that had achieved currency through Hemingway’s use of it as an epigraph for The Sun Also Rises. Whereas Stein had identified the lost generation with the war veterans, Fitzgerald insisted that the lost generation was the prewar group and expressed confidence in “the men of the war.”

In May, Fitzgerald wrote a skillful commercial story for the Post in which he again created one of his determined young women. In “Majesty” a beautiful American heiress rebels against her family’s conventional expectations and takes up with a seedy claimant to a Middle European kingdom; with her help the weakling becomes ruler over rich mineral deposits, and she becomes his queen. The plot is unlikely, but Fitzgerald managed to make the heroine convincing. “At Your Age,” another commercial story written in June about the attempt of a fifty-year-old man to win a young woman, brought a raise toFitzgerald’s peak Post price of $4,000. In 1929 Fitzgerald earned $27,000 from eight stories and $31.71 from book royalties.

May and June 1929 in Paris were months of drinking and trouble for Fitzgerald. A May Ledger entry indicates the kind of mess he got into when drunk: “Nigger affair—Buck, Michell in prison. Dane.” This reference to a squabble he became involved in with blacks in Montmartre found its way into Tender Is the Night, where the episode marks Abe North’s deterioration.

36 Paris and Cannes [Summer 1929]

The young Canadiannovelist Morley Callaghan, who had just become a Scribners author, was in Paris during the spring and summer of 1929 and looked up Fitzgerald to thank him for recommending his work to Perkins. Callaghan had known Hemingway when they were on the Toronto Star, and they boxed regularly in Paris. Fitzgerald was anxious to attend one of these private bouts and in June was invited to come along as timekeeper. According to Callaghan’s detailed account in That Summer in Paris (1963), Fitzgerald was surprised to see the smaller Callaghan handle Hemingway with ease. Fitzgerald believed in Hemingway’s reputation as a fighter of professional caliber, but Callaghan and others who boxed with him have attested that Hemingway was clumsy and easy to hit. In the second round Fitzgerald became so interested in the action as Hemingway tried to nail Callaghan with a knockout punch that he let the three-minute round run a minute long. When Callaghan knocked Hemingway down, Fitzgerald exclaimed, “Oh, my God! I let the round go four minutes.” Hemingway angrily replied, “All right, Scott. If you want to see me getting the shit knocked out of me, just say so. Only don’t say you made a mistake.” According to Callaghan, Fitzgerald was shocked by Hemingway’s accusation; but the matter was patched up and the rest of the day went amicably. (Fitzgerald never wrote about his timekeeping error. The eyewitness reports are by Callaghan and Hemingway, and Hemingway’s versions changed over the years. This account is based on Callaghan’s That Summer in Paris (New York: Coward-McCann, 1963). In 1951 Hemingway made the absurd claim that Fitzgerald had let the round go 13 minutes). That summer, while Fitzgerald was on the Riviera and Hemingway was following the bullfights in Spain, theyexchanged friendly letters—in which the Callaghan bout was not mentioned. Hemingway’s 1929 letters to Fitzgerald show him trying to bolster Fitzgerald’s confidence at a time when Fitzgerald was painfully aware that A Farewell to Arms was a brilliant success while his own novel was still unfinished after four years. When Fitzgerald reported that he was really working hard on his novel and was ashamed of all the time he had wasted, Hemingway assured him that the parts of the novel he had seen were better than anything except the best parts of Gatsby, and repeated his pet theory that Fitzgerald’s novel writing had been blocked by Gilbert Seldes’s favorable review of Gatsby, which compelled him to try to write a masterpiece.

By July 1929 the Fitzgeralds were renting the Villa Fleur des Bois on the Boulevard Eugene Gazagnaire in Cannes, where they remained through September. Fitzgerald’s Ledger has this July entry: “Zelda dancing in Nice + Cannes.” It is unknown whether she had professional engagements or was taking lessons on the Riviera. In September she was offered a solo role in Aida with the San Carlo Opera ballet company in Naples. It was the best ballet offer she ever received, and there is no explanation for her decision to decline it.

Fitzgerald informed Perkins in July: “I am working night + day on novel from new angle that I think will solve previous difficulties”. He had almost certainly dropped the matricide story for a new plot about Lew and Nicole Kelly, a movie director and his wife who are going to Europe because he feels he has grown stale in Hollywood. Aboard the ship are a girl named Rosemary and her mother, who hope that Kelly will help Rosemary get a start in the movies. Lew Kelly was probably based on Rex Ingram, the director of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Prisoner of Zenda, and Scaramouche, who had left Hollywood and set up a studio at Nice in 1927. Fitzgerald knew Ingram, who, like Kelly, was Irish and had attended Yale. The young actress introduces the Lois Moran-Rosemary Hoyt figure into the stream of composition. Only two shipboard chapters, comprising about fifty manuscript pages, survive from the Kelly version. The opening describes the Kellys walking the deck and chanting a nonsense song— “Oh-oh-oh-oh/Other flamingoes than me”—which was salvaged for Book II of Tender Is the Night. When Fitzgerald read the Kelly opening to Zelda, she was distressed by the point that the director cannot devote all his attention to his wife and probably annoyed by the Lois/ Rosemary character.

Fitzgerald dispatched optimistic progress reports during the summer and fall of 1929, but it is unlikely that he wrote more than the two extant chapters. On 29 August he cabled Ober: SENDING THREE FOURTH OF NOVEL SEPT 30 TH STARTING NEW STORY NEXT WEEK CAN YOU DEPOSIT THREEFIFTY. Writing in the tone of self-denigration that had come to characterize his letters to Hemingway, Fitzgerald admitted on 9 September:

Just taken another chapter to typists + its left me in a terrible mood of depression as to whether its any good or not. [No typed chapters for the Kelly version survive.] In 2 ½mos. I’ve been here I’ve written 20,000 words on it + one short story, which is superb for me of late years. I’ve paid for it with the usual nervous depression and such drinking manners as the lowest bistrop (bistrot?) boy would scorn. My latest tendency is to collapse about 11:00 and, with 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 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.

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 and finishing Gatsby 1919—1924 which included 3 novels, about 50 popular stories + a play + numerous articles + movies may I 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.

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.

The 20,000-word claim is high for fifty manuscript pages. Reconstructing the stages of Tender Is the Night is difficult because of Fitzgerald’s exaggerated progress reports. He also claimed that he destroyed drafts; and Gerald Murphy witnessed one such incident. Fitzgerald’s summer work on his novel was not steady, because he wrote “The Swimmers” in July and August, which proved to be a difficult job. Hemingway replied:

Oh Hell. You have more stuff than anyone and you care more about it and for Christ sake just keep on and go through with it now and dont please write anything else until it’s finished. It will be damned good—

(They never raise an old whore’s price—she may know 850 positions— they cut her price all the same—So either you arent old or not a whore or both) The stories arent whoring They’re just bad judgement—You could have and can make enough to live on writing novels.

When Harold Ober gave up his partnership in the Reynolds agency in September 1929, Fitzgerald cabled him: FOLLOWING YOU NATURALLY. Ober prospered on his own, building a list of important clients that included William Faulkner. For the next decade he would serve as Fitzgerald’s banker and eventually as his editor. In the early years of the Twenties, Fitzgerald requested payment for a story when he delivered it to Ober but before it was sold to a magazine. Their arrangement changed to a system whereby Fitzgerald would borrow against his next unwritten story, so that by 1928 he had spent the money before the story was written.

Fitzgerald’s Ledger summary for the year was: “Thirty two years old (And sore as hell about it) OMINOUS No Real Progress in ANY way + wrecked myself with dozens of people.”

In October the Fitzgeralds returned to Paris by car, through Aix, Aries, Pont du Gard, Vichy, and the chateau country. During this trip Zelda grabbed the steering wheel and tried to drive over a cliff, claiming that the car was responding to its own will. They rented an apartment at 10 rue Pergolese near the Bois de Boulogne. During October and November Fitzgerald worked on “Two Wrongs.” When the story was finished, he wrote Perkins: “For the first time since August I see my way clear to a long stretch on the novel, so I’m writing you as I can’t bear to do when its in one of its states of posteponement + seems so in the air.” Nonetheless, Fitzgerald made no significant progress on the novel in Paris, and he felt increasingly resentful of Zelda’s absorption in the dance. In Save Me the Waltz Zelda described the exhaustion of her work with Egorova:

Alabama rubbed her legs with Elizabeth Arden muscle oil night after night. There were blue bruises inside above the knee where the muscles were torn. Her throat was so dry that at first she thought she had a fever and was disappointed to find that she had none. In her bathing suit she tried to stretch on the high back of a Louis Quartorze sofa. She was always stiff, and she clutched the gilt flowers in pain. She fastened her feet through the bars of the iron bed and slept with her toes glued outwards for weeks. Her lessons were agony.

At night she sat in the window too tired to move, consumed by a longingto succeed as a dancer. It seemed to Alabama that, reaching her goal, she would drive the devils that had driven her—that, in proving herself, she would achieve that peace which she imagined went only in surety of one’s self—that she would be able, through the medium of the dance, to command her emotions, to summon love or pity or happiness at will, having provided a channel through which they might flow.120

Even though Fitzgerald angrily told Zelda that she would never become a first-rate dancer, he understood the desperation of her efforts and probably realized that she was close to the breaking point. He would compel her to turn in early when she showed signs of fatigue. Morley Callaghan, who was present at some of these occasions, was perplexed by Zelda’s meekness in accepting her husband’s authority and wondered about the reasons behind Fitzgerald’s command over her. In retrospect, Callaghan concluded that Zelda had already begun to show symptoms of her impending breakdown.

Gertrude Stein caused an additional strain in the friendship between Fitzgerald and Hemingway that fall by telling them that Fitzgerald was the most talented writer of his generation, the one with the brightest flame. Her compliment upset Fitzgerald, who interpreted it as a slight to Hemingway or as an implied criticism of himself. Hemingway wrote Fitzgerald that Stein had been sincere, assuring him that he didn’t feel any resentment or sense of competition with Fitzgerald because any comparison of flames was “pure horseshit”: “There can be no such thing between serious writers—They are all in the same boat. Competition within that boat—which is headed toward death—is as silly as deck sports are—The only competition is the original one of making the boat and that all takes place inside yourself—You’re on the boat but you’re getting touchy because you haven’t finished your novel— that’s all—I understand it and you could be a lot more touchy and I wouldn’t mind.”

There was a delayed reaction to the Callaghan-Hemingway boxing episode after incorrect reports appeared in American newspapers. On 24 November 1929 the New York Herald Tribune printed an article stating that Callaghan had knocked out Hemingway for disparaging his boxing stories. [The report first appeared in Caroline Bancroft’s Denver Post article and was reprinted in Isabel M. Paterson’s “Turns with a Bookworm” column in the Herald Tribune. Bancroft later informed Callaghan that her source was Virginia Hersch, who heard it in Paris. Hemingway believed that Paris journalist Pierre Loving had been responsible for the false account.] When Callaghan saw the article in Canada, he sent the Trib a correction that appeared on 8 December; but in the meantime Fitzgerald cabled Callaghan at Hemingway’s insistence: HAVE SEEN STORY IN HERALD TRIBUNE ERNEST AND I AWAIT YOUR CORRECTION SCOTT FITZGERALD. Since Callaghan had not been responsible for the story, he was angry with Fitzgerald and sent him an abusive reply. The situation was further complicated by Hemingway’s suspicion that Callaghan had repeated Robert McAlmon’s gossip about his alleged homosexuality. McAlmon—who was a homosexual—also claimed that Fitzgerald was one. Fitzgerald believed that McAlmon’s gossip about him and Hemingway helped to spoil the friendship. He observed 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 in this note, but the reference is clear.

With Perkins trying to act as peacemaker for three of his authors, the crisis ended after a four-sided exchange of letters; but Callaghan’s friendship with Fitzgerald and Hemingway was finished. Although Callaghan became convinced that Fitzgerald’s admiration for Hemingway was permanently ruined, Hemingway’s letters to Fitzgerald about the Callaghan contretemps show him trying to patch their friendship. In December he wrote Fitzgerald that he did not suspect him of having deliberately let the round go long: “I know you are the soul of honor. I mean that. If you remember I made no cracks about your time keeping until after you had told me over my objections for about the fourth time that you were going to deliberately quarrel with me. … I was so appalled at the idea of you saying that you were going to deliberately quarrel with me that I didnt know (just having heard those vile stuff from McA and C. which I thought I should have heard a long time sooner, if I was to hear it, and it was to go so long unresented) where the hell I stood on anything.”

37 Paris: Zelda’s Collapse [Fall 1929-Spring 1930]

The Wall Street crash on 29 October 1929 did not directly affect Fitzgerald because he owned no securities and had never played the market. The inventory of the Fitzgeralds’ possessions in “Auction—Model 1934” concludes: “We shall keep it all—the tangible remnant of the four hundred thousand we made from hard words and spent with easy ones these fifteen years. And the collection, after all, is just as valuable now as the Polish and Peruvian bonds of our thriftier friends.” Nonetheless, the Crash would reduce Fitzgerald’s earning power. (Between 1920 and 1929 the Fitzgeralds’ writings brought $244,967 after commissions.) With his capacity for becoming identified with the moods of his times, Fitzgerald would come to symbolize the excesses of the Boom Decade. The Twenties had spoiled and rewarded him. The Thirties would disparage him.

Fitzgerald later made this assessment of the Twenties: “It is the custom now to look back ourselves of the boom days with a disapproval that approaches horror. But it had its virtues, that old boom: Life was a great deal larger and gayer for most people, and the stampede to the spartan virtues in times of war and famine shouldn’t make us too dizzy to remember its hilarious glory. There were so many good things. These eyes have been hallowed by watching a man order champagne for his two thousand guests, by listening while a woman ordered a whole staircase from the greatest sculptor in the world, by seeing a man tear up a good check for eight hundred thousand dollars.” These moments represent more than extravagance. They share a generosity of gesture, a sense of infinite possibilities, that Fitzgerald responded to eloquently and complexly as “the most expensive orgy in history.” The identification of Fitzgerald with the Twenties—which represented half his professional life—has contributed to the distorted popular impression of him as the totemic figure who embodied or was even somehow responsible for the excesses of the boom and the punitive Depression. The ways in which his career duplicated the national moods are almost too neat—like something inept novelists invent. After achieving sudden success with This Side of Paradise in the spring of 1920, for the next decade he was rewarded for retelling people their favorite fables about youth and love and ambition and success and happiness. It wasn’t that simple, of course, for amidst the echolalia of his parties there was a quest for values operating in his work. As the Twenties lurched or sprinted forward, Fitzgerald’s warning notes became clearer. Yet the preacher was unable to heed his own sermons. He could only send out messages from within the hysteria. The moralist had to be a participant. By 1929 Fitzgerald knew he had lost something. Not his genius, not his capacity to feel intensely, not even his capacity for work. He had lost his belief that “life was something you dominated if you were any good.”

Continuing to serve as talent scout for Scribners, in January 1930 Fitzgerald called Perkins’s attention to Robert Cantwell, Erskine Caldwell, Gerald Sykes, Cary Ross, Murry Godwin, and Rene Crevel. At the same time he sent Perkins “some memoirs by an ex-marine doorman at my bank here” and proposed a plan for a series of translated French and German military volumes. Perkins interviewed Cant-well and Caldwell; and Scribners published two of Caldwell’s books, including Tobacco Road.

Throughout the fall and winter of 1929-30 Zelda’s behavior showed the effects of the increasing strain of her intensive ballet work and her writing. At a flower market she told Fitzgerald that the flowers were talking to her. In February 1930 the Fitzgeralds took a trip to North Africa, mainly to provide Zelda with a rest. She later wrote: “It was a trying winter and to forget bad times we went to Algiers. The Hotel du l’Oasis was laced together by Moorish grills; and the bar was an outpost of civilization with people accentuating their eccentricities. Beggars in white sheets were propped against the walls, and the dash of colonial uniforms gave the cafes a desperate swashbuckling air. Berbers have plaintive trusting eyes but it is really Fate they trust.” The trip was not a success because Zelda was anxious about the lessons she was missing. They quarreled bitterly in Biskra.

Zelda’s devotion to Egorova grew steadily as she saw in her teacher a noble figure who endured poverty for the sake of art. Zelda desperately wanted Egorova’s approval and competed with the other dancers for her attention. The ballet studio was a breeding place for the resentments and jealousies associated with the artistic temperament, and Zelda’s fatigue was intensified by her nervous anxiety. Her concentration on dancing seemed to border on the pathological during the Kalmans’ March 1930 visit to Paris. When Oscar Kalman was taking her to the studio, she became so upset about the possibility of being late that she changed into dancing clothes in the cab and ran to the studio when the cab was stuck in traffic.

There is a report that Zelda had a ballet recital in Paris early in 1930. Fitzgerald later recalled that Zelda was terribly disappointed when she thought a representative from Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe had come to the studio to see her dance but discovered that he was actually someone from the Folies Bergere who was interested in making her a shimmy dancer.

With his novel stalled again, Fitzgerald resumed short-story work to maintain the expensive and unhappy life that the Fitzgeralds had evolved. He wrote eight stories in 1930, which brought $32,000 from the Post; but even so, he had to borrow $3,700 from Scribners against his novel. The first 1930 story, written in January, was “First Blood,” the start of a five-story series (“First Blood,” “A Nice Quiet Place,” “A Woman with a Past,” “A Snobbish Story,” and “Emotional Bankruptcy”) about Josephine Perry, a Chicago debutante at the time of World War I. The Josephine stories, based on Ginevra King, were not a companion series to the Basil stories because there was no overlap in material or characters; but they resulted from the same retrospective impulse, as Fitzgerald again reassessed his generation against his own decade of deterioration. Unlike Basil, who develops discipline, Josephine is self-destructive. She uses herself up on a series of trivial romances that provide no preparation for a responsible life, until in “Emotional Bankruptcy” she has nothing left for the man she really wants to love. The concept of emotional bankruptcy became a key idea for Fitzgerald. He believed that people have a fixed amount of emotional capital; reckless expenditure results in early bankruptcy, which leaves the person unable to respond to the events that require true emotion. Appropriately, Fitzgerald developed a theory of character in terms of a financial metaphor.

Ten years and twenty days after her wedding Zelda Fitzgerald entered Malmaison clinic outside Paris. The Malmaison report reads:

Mrs. FITZ-GERALD entered on 23 April 1930 in a state of acute anxiety, restlessness, continually repeating: “This is dreadful, this is horrible, what is going to become of me, I have to work, and I will no longer be able to, I must die, and yet I have to work. I will never be cured, let me leave. I have to go see “Madame” (dance teacher), she has given me the greatest joy that can exist, it is comparable to the light of the sun that falls on a block of crystal, to a symphony of perfume, the most perfect chord from the greatest composer in music.

Finally, we are in the presence of a lady exhausted from work in an environment of professional dancers. Some obsessive ideas, the main one of which is her fear of becoming a homosexual. She thinks she is in love with her dance teacher (Madame X) as she had already thought in the past of being in love with another woman. [Translated from the French]

While Zelda was at Malmaison, Fitzgerald was involved in a round of parties for the wedding of Ludlow Fowler’s brother Powell. He saw this wedding as the last manifestation of the American Twenties in Paris. In May he wrote “The Bridal Party,” based on the Fowler wedding, which concluded that American confidence had not been diminished by the Crash. The story includes an inventory of the drinking habits among the Americans in Paris that may indicate Fitzgerald’s own consumption: “… for weeks they had drunk cocktails before meals like Americans, wines and brandies like Frenchmen, beer like Germans, whisky-and-soda like the English, and as they were no longer in their twenties, this preposterous melange, that was like some gigantic cocktail in a nightmare, served only to make them temporarily less conscious of the mistakes of the night before.”

In March 1930 Fitzgerald promised to start sending his novel to Ober in sections, as he had tried to do with Perkins in 1928. Zelda’s breakdown intervened, and in May Fitzgerald explained to Ober:

At one time I was about to send four chapters out of eight done to you. Then I cut one of those chapters absolutely to pieces. I know you’re losing faith in me + Max too but God knows one has to rely in the end on one’s own judgement. I could have published four lowsy, half baked books in the last five years + people would have thought I was at least a worthy young man not drinking myself to pieces in the south seas—but I’d be dead as Michael Arlen, Bromfield, Tom Boyd, Callaghan + the others who thinkthey can trick the world with the hurried and the second rate. These Post stories in the Post are at least not any spot on me—they’re honest and if their form is stereotyped people know what to expect when they pick up the Post. The novel is another thing—if, after four years I published the Basil Lee stories as a book I might as well get tickets for Hollywood immediately.

Even allowing for exaggeration, the 1930 material had to be a return to the Melarky-matricide story; the Kelly version never reached eight chapters. The four 1930 chapters cannot be identified because they were dismantled and incorporated into the final version of Tender Is the Night. Fitzgerald’s report to Ober shows the nature of his problem with the novel: the longer the interval after The Great Gatsby, the better the new novel would have to be to justify the delay. As Hemingway had observed, Fitzgerald felt that he was in the position of having to write nothing less than an acknowledged masterpiece.

38 Prangins [Summer-Fall 1930]

Zelda discharged herselffrom Malmaison on 11 May against her doctor’s advice. She attempted to go back to ballet training but experienced hallucinations that resulted in a suicide attempt. On 22 May she entered Val-Mont clinic at Glion, Switzerland, which did not specialize in psychiatric problems. Dr. H. A. Trutmann of Val-Mont made this report on the case:

At the beginning of the story Mrs. F. declared that she had never been ill and had been brought by force to the clinic. Every day she repeated that she wanted to return to Paris to resume her ballet work in which she thought she found the only satisfaction of her life. In addition, the patient related, in a rather obscure manner, the physical sensations which she felt, and which she connected with her homosexuality. This represented another reason for returning to Paris. The visits of her husband often offered the occasion for violent arguments, always provoked by the husband’s attempts to reason with the patient and to refute the patient’s insinuations because the patient suspected the husband of homosexuality. Mrs. F. put herself into a state of excitement at the thought that on one hand she was losing precious time, and on the other that the things most precious to her were being taken away: her work as a dancer and her Lesbian tendencies. [Translated from the French]

Dr. Oscar Forel was brought in for a consultation on 3 June. He diagnosed Zelda as schizophrenic and agreed to treat her at his clinic, stipulating that she would have to agree to the transfer and that a temporary separation from her husband would be required.

On 5 June, Zelda entered Forel’s Les Rives de Prangins clinic at Nyon on Lake Geneva between Geneva and Lausanne, accompanied by Fitzgerald and her brother-in-law Newman Smith. The Smiths, whowere living in Brussels, represented the Sayre family during Zelda’s treatment in Switzerland. Rosalind blamed Fitzgerald’s drinking for Zelda’s breakdown and wrote him, “I would almost rather she die now than escape only to go back to the mad world you and she have created for yourselves.” Fitzgerald argued in his defense that Zelda had always been eccentric and reckless, that their way of life was largely the result of her refusal to accept any domestic responsibility, and that there was a long history of nervous disorder in the Sayre family. According to Fitzgerald’s inventory, Zelda’s three sisters were neurotics; Judge Sayre had experienced a nervous breakdown; Mrs. Sayre’s mother had committed suicide; there were some reputedly unbalanced uncles; and Zelda’s brother was unstable. (Anthony Sayre would commit suicide in 1933.)

Prangins had a resort-like atmosphere, and no expense was spared to provide Zelda with the most pleasant living conditions. Fitzgerald wanted to be near Zelda and spent the summer commuting between Paris and Switzerland—staying in hotels at Glion, Vevey, Caux,Lausanne, and Geneva. Scottie remained with her governess at 21 rue des Marionniers in Paris, where she attended the Cours Dieterlin. Concerned that the stock market crash would diminish his earning power, Fitzgerald made his last attempt to build an estate for his family when he invested $212 in a Northern Pacific Railway bond and an American Telephone & Telegraph debenture in June 1930.

Fitzgerald was anxious to resume sexual relations with Zelda at Prangins, but Dr. Forel did not allow him to visit her until a course of treatment had been established. During Zelda’s fifteen months at Prangins she and Fitzgerald exchanged many letters—possibly more than a hundred—as they tried to explain their situation to each other and sometimes blamed each other for what had happened to them. In addition, Fitzgerald wrote long letters to Dr. Forel analyzing his relationship with Zelda and suggesting courses of treatment. Since neither of the Fitzgeralds dated letters to each other, it is impossible to establish a definite chronology; but a pattern can be seen. In the beginning their letters are often vituperative, expressing hurt and anger at the betrayals they assign to each other. Two of the 1930 letters reveal their wrenching need to justify themselves to each other. A seven-page memo, which may not have been sent, shows Fitzgerald attempting to account for the destruction of their happiness and the collapse of his career—which were intertwined.

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 while 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. Chanler 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 [ ] 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 accute 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 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. 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.

In July, Zelda developed severe eczema, which tortured her until the fall. In the depth of her misery she wrote Fitzgerald a forty-two-page summary of their marriage:

I have just written to Newman to come here to me. You say that you have been thinking of the past. The weeks since I haven’t slept more than three or four hours, swathed in bandages sick and unable to read so have I.
There was:

The strangeness and excitement of New York, of reporters and furry smothered hotel lobbies, the brightness of the sun on the window panes and the prickly dust of late spring: the impressiveness of the Fowlers and much tea-dancing and my eccentric behavior at Princeton. There were Townsend’s blue eyes and Ludlow’s rubbers and a trunk that exhuded sachet and the marshmallow odor of the Biltmore. There were always Ludow and Townsend and Alex and Bill Mackey and you and me. We did not like women and we were happy. There was Georges appartment and his absinth cock-tails and Ruth Findleys gold hair in his comb, and visits to the “Smart Set” and “Vanity Fair”—a collegiate literary world puffed into wide proportions by the New York papers. There were flowers and night clubs and Ludlow’s advice that moved us to the country. At West Port, we quarrelled over morals once, walking beside a colonial wall under the freshness of lilacs. We sat up all night over “Brass Knuckles and Guitar.” There was the road house where we bought gin, and Kate Hicks and the Maurices and the bright harness of the Rye Beach Club. We swam in the depth of the night with George before we quarrelled with him and went to John Williams parties where there were actresses who spoke French when they were drunk. George played “Cuddle up a Little Closer” on the piano. There were my white knickers that startled the Connecticut hills, and the swim in the sandaled lady’s bird-pool. The beach, and dozens of men, mad rides along the Post Road and trips to New York. We never could have a room at a hotel at night we looked so young, so once we filled an empty suit case with the telephone directory and spoons and a pin-cushion at The Manhattan—I was romanticly attached to Townsend and he went away to Tahatii—and there were your episodes of Gene Bankhead and Miriam. We bought the Marmon with Harvey Firestone and went south through the haunted swamps of Virginiia, the red clay hills of Georgia, the sweet rutted creek-bottoms of Alabama. We drank corn on the wings of an aeroplane in the moon-light and danced at the country-club and came back. I had a pink dress that floated and a very theatrical silver one that I bought with Don Stewart.

We moved to 59th Street. We quarrelled and you broke the bathroom door and hurt my eye. We went so much to the theatre that you took it off the income tax. We trailed through Central Park in the snow after a ball atthe Plaza, I quarrelled with Zoe about Bottecelli at the Brevoort and went with her to buy a coat for David Belasco. We had Bourbon and Deviled Ham and Christmas at the Overmans and ate lots at the Lafayette. There was Tom Smith and his wall-paper and Mencken and our Valentine party and the time I danced all night with Alex and meals at Mollats with John and I skated, and was pregnant and you wrote the “Beautiful and Damned.” We came to Europe and I was sick and complained always. There was London, and Wopping with Shane Leslie and strawberries as big as tomatoes at Lady Randolph Churchills. There was St. Johns Ervines wooden leg and Bob Handley in the gloom of the Cecil—There was Paris and the heat and the ice-cream that did not melt and buying clothes—and Rome and your friends from the British Embassy and your drinking, drinking. We came home. There was “Dog” and lunch at the St. Regis with Townsend and Alex and John: Alabama and the unbearable heat and our almost buying a house. Then we went to St. Paul and hundreds of people came to call. There were the Indian forests and the moon on the sleeping porch and I was heavy and afraid of the storms. Then Scottie was born and we went to all the Christmas parties and a man asked Sandy “who is your fat friend?” Snow covered everything. We had the Flu and went lots to the Kalmans and Scottie grew strong. Joseph Hergesheimer came and Saturdays we went to the university Club. We went to the Yacht Club and we both had minor flirtatons. Joe began to dislike me, and I played so much golf that I had Tetena. Kollie almost died. We both adored him. We came to New York and rented a house when we were tight. There was Val Engelicheff and Ted Paramour and dinner with Bunny in Washington Square and pills and Doctor Lackin And we had a violent quarrell on the train going back, I don’t remember why. Then I brought Scottie to New York. She was round and funny in a pink coat and bonnet and you met us at the station. In Great Neck there was always disorder and quarrels: about the Golf Club, about the Foxes, about Peggy Weber, about Helen Buck, about everything. We went to the Rumseys, and that awful night at the Mackeys when Ring sat in the cloak-room. We saw Esther and Glen Hunter and Gilbert Seldes. We gave lots of parties: the biggest one for Rebecca West. We drank Bass Pale Ale and went always to the Bucks or the Lardners or the Swopes when they weren’t at our house. We saw lots of Sydney Howard and fought the week-end that Bill Motter was with us. We drank always and finally came to France because there were always too many people in the house. On the boat there was almost a scandal about Bunny Burgess. We found Nanny and went to Hyeres—Scottie and I were both sick there in the dusty garden full of Spanish Bayonet and Bourgainvilla. We went to St. Raphael. You wrote, and we went sometimes to Nice or Monte Carlo. We were alone, and gave big parties for the French aviators. Then there was Josen and you were justifiably angry. We went toRome. We ate at the Castelli dei Cesari. The sheets were always damp. There was Christmas in the echoes, and eternal walks. We cried when we saw the Pope. There were the luminous shadows of the Pinco and the officer’s shining boots. We went to Frascati and Tivoli. There was the jail, and Hal Rhodes at the Hotel de Russie and my not wanting to go to the moving-picture ball at the Excelsior and asking Hungary Cox to take me home. Then I was horribly sick, from trying to have a baby and you didn’t care much and when I was well we came back to Paris. We sat to-gether in Marseilles and thought how good France was. We lived in the rue Tilsitt, in red plush and Teddy came for tea and we went to the markets with the Murphies. There were the Wimans and Mary Hay and Eva La Galliene and rides in the Bois at dawn and the night we all played puss-in-the-corner at the Ritz. There was Tunti and nights in Mont Matre. We went to Antibes, and I was sick always and took too much Dial. [A sedative.] The Murphy’s were at the Hotel du Cap and we saw them constantly. Back in Paris I began dancing lessons because I had nothing to do. I was sick again at Christmas when the Mac Leishes came and Doctor Gros said there was no use trying to save my ovaries. I was always sick and having picqures [Injections.] and things and you were naturally more and more away. You found Ernest and the Cafe des Lilas and you were unhappy when Dr. Gros sent me to Salies-de Beam. At the Villa Paquita I was always sick. Sara brought me things and we gave a lunch for Geralds father. We went to Cannes and listned to Raquel Miller and dined under the rain of fire-works. You couldn’t work because your room was damp and you quarrelled with the Murphys. We moved to a bigger villa and I went to Paris and had my appendix out. You drank all the time and some man called up the hospital about a row you had had. We went home, and I wanted you to swim with me at Juan-les-Pins but you liked it better where it was gayer: at the Garoupe with Marice Hamilton and the Murphys and the Mac Leishes. Then you found Grace Moore and Ruth and Charlie and the summer passed, one party after another. We quarrelled about Dwight Wiman and you left me lots alone. There were too many people and too many things to do: every-day there was something and our house was always full. There was Gerald and Ernest and you often did not come home. There were the English sleepers that I found downstairs one morning and Bob and Muriel and Walker and Anita Loos, always somebody—Alice Delamar and Ted Rousseau and our trips to St. Paul [St. Paul-de-Vence in the hills above the Mediterranean.] and the note from Isadora Duncan and the countryside slipping by through the haze of Chamberry-fraises and Graves—That was your summer. I swam with Scottie except when I followed you, mostly unwillingly.Then I had asthma and almost died in Genoa. And we were back in America—further apart than ever before. In California, though you would not allow me to go anywhere without you, you yourself engaged in flagrantly sentimental relations with a child. You said you wanted nothing more from me in all your life, though you made a scene when Carl suggested that I go to dinner with him and Betty Compson. We came east: I worked over Ellerslie incessantly and made it function. There was our first house-party and you and Lois—and when there was nothing more to do on the house I began dancing lessons. You did not like it when you saw it made me happy. You were angry about rehearsals and insistent about trains. You went to New York to see Lois and I met Dick Knight the night of that party for Paul Morand. Again, though you were by then thoroughly entangled sentimentally, you forbade my seeing Dick and were furious about a letter he wrote me. On the boat coming over you paid absolutely no attention of any kind to me except to refuse me the permission to stay to a concert with whatever-his-name-was. I think the most humiliating and bestial thing that ever happenned to me in my life is a scene that you probably don’t remember even in Genoa. We lived in the rue 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. I got so I couldn’t sleep and I had asthma again. 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. I began to like Egorowa—On the boat going back I told you I was afraid that there was something abnormal in the relationship and you laughed. There was more or less of a scandal about Philipson, [Unidentified.] but you did not even try to help me. You brought Philippe back and I couldnt manage the house any more; he was insubordinate and disrespectful to me and you wouldn’t let him go. I began to work harder at dancing—I thought of nothing else but that. You were far away by then and I was alone. 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 matterred. 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. We went to Cannes. I kept up my lessons and we quarrelled You wouldn’t let me fire the nurse that both Scottie and I hated. You disgraced yourself at theBarry’s party, on the yacht at Monte Carlo, at the casino with Gerald and Dotty. Many nights you didn’t come home. You came into my room once the whole summer, but I didn’t care because I went to the beach in the morning, I had my lesson in the afternoon and I walked at night. I was nervous and half-sick but I didn’t know what was the matter. I only knew that I had difficulty standing lots of people, like the party at Wm J. Locke’s and that I wanted to get back to Paris. We had lunch at the Murphy’s and Gerald said to me very pointedly several times that Nemchinova [Ballerina Nemtchinova.] was at Antibes. Still I didn’t understand. We came back to Paris. You were miserable about your lung, and because you had wasted the summer, but you didn’t stop drinking I worked all the time and I became dependent on Egorowa. I couldn’t walk in the street unless I had been to my lesson. I couldn’t manage the appartment because I couldn’t speak to the servants. I couldn’t go into stores to buy clothes and my emotions became blindly involved. In February, when I was so sick with bronchitis that I had ventouses [French medical term for cuppings.] every day and fever for two weeks, I had to work because I couldn’t exist in the world without it, and still I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t even know what I wanted. Then we went to Africa and when we came back I began to realize because I could feel what was happenning in others. You did not want me. Twice you left my bed saying “I can’t. Don’t you understand”—I didn’t. Then there was the Harvard man who lost his direction, and when I wanted you to come home with me you told me to sleep with the coal man. At Nancy Hoyt’s dinner she offerred her services but there was nothing the matter with my head then, though I was half dead, so I turned back to the studio. Lucienne was sent away but since I knew nothing about the situation, I didn’t know why there was something wrong. I just kept on going. Lucienne came back and later went away again and then the end happenned I went to Malmaison. You wouldn’t help me—I don’t blame you by now, but if you had explained I would have understood because all I wanted was to go on working. You had other things: drink and tennis, and we did not care about each other. You hated me for asking you not to drink. A girl came to work with me but I didn’t want her to. I still believed in love and I thought suddenly of Scottie and that you supported me. So at Valmont I was in tortue, and my head closed to-gether. You gave me a flower and said it was “plus petite et moins etendue”— We were friends—Then you took it away and I grew sicker, and there was nobody to teach me, so here I am, after five months of misery and agony and desperation. I’m glad you have found that the material for a Josepine story and I’m glad that you take such an interest in sports. Now that I can’t sleep any more I have lots to thinkabout, and since I have gone so far alone I suppose I can go the rest of the way—but if it were Scottie I would not ask that she go through the same hell and if I were God I could not justify or find a reason for imposing it—except that it was wrong, of cource, to love my teacher when I should have loved you. But I didn’t have you to love—not since long before I loved her.

I have just begun to realize that sex and sentiment have little to do with each other. When I came to you twice last winter and asked you to start over it was because I thought I was becoming seriously involved sentimentally and preparing situations for which I was morally and practicly unfitted. You had a song about Gigolos: if that had ever entered my head there was, besides the whole studio, 3 other solutions in Paris.

I came to you half-sick after a difficult lunch at Armonville and you kept me waiting until it was too late in front of the Guaranty Trust.

Sandy’s tiny candle was not much of a strain, but it required something better than your week of drunkenness to put it out. You didn’t care: so I went on and on—dancing alone, and, no matter what happens, I still know in my heart that it is a Godless, dirty game; that love is bitter and all there is, and that the rest is for the emotional beggars of the earth and is about the equivalent of people who stimulate themselves with dirty postcards—

From the start Dr. Forel was convinced that Zelda’s recovery depended on her relinquishing her hopes for a ballet career. Fitzgerald wrote to Egorova in June requesting an assessment of Zelda’s capabilities. Dr. Forel wrote to Fitzgerald on 23 June 1930: “I’ve taken notice of the attached letter which shows how Mrs. Fitzgerald still clings to her career as a dancer. On the other hand, Dr. de Jonge and myself, we are certain that it is not in this direction that she will find her equilibrium and the possibility of resuming a normal life. Therefore, if you write to the teacher of your wife as she demands it, it would be preferable (although it will be a big disappointment to her) that, in the answer, one makes her understand that there is not her real calling. She wants to start to work again, but at this point in time, it is not a question of dance, but medical treatment which she urgently needs.” [Translated from the French]. Her 9 July verdict was less discouraging than Dr. Forel had anticipated:

1) According to my conviction, Zelda will not be able to become a first-class dancer; she started too late to succeed in it.

2) I cannot imagine Zelda being on the same level as Nikitina or Danilowa. [Fitzgerald’s 22 June 1930 letter to Egorova listed seven questions about Zelda’s dancing. His third question was how long would Zelda need to reach the level of Nikitina and Danilowa.]

4) I am quite certain that in the Massine ballets, without being the star, Zelda could perform with success some important roles. However, she can possibly become a good dancer.

5) Having started her dancing lessons quite late, it is certain that Zelda will not be able to reach some results that are only accessible to dancers who have been studying since childhood. Nevertheless, Zelda is very capable and does very well some steps that do not require years of work.

6) Zelda is as good a student as Galia, but I will not keep it from you that among my students, particularly among the professional ones, many of them are superior to her.

7) I can only repeat that Zelda is capable of becoming a very good dancer without however equalling stars like Nemtchinova or Nikitina. [Translated from the French]

Zelda was badly disappointed by Egorova’s report, for she had been sure that she could achieve distinction. She did not recommence her ballet training, although she continued to dance as a means of self-expression.

Perhaps as a way to compensate Zelda for the loss of her ballet career, Fitzgerald tried to arrange for publication of the stories she wrote at Prangins. In July he offered Perkins “three stories which Zelda wrote in the dark middle of her nervous breakdown.” Scribner’s Magazine declined “A Workman,” “The Drouth and the Flood,” and “The House” as too specialized for a general audience, and Ober was unable to place them elsewhere. [These three stories are lost.]

Dr. Forel was in fact treating both Fitzgeralds, for Zelda’s recovery depended on her relationship with her husband. When Dr. Forel recommended that he stop drinking, Fitzgerald refused to accept Zelda’s charge that his drinking had caused her collapse. He drafted a self-justifying letter to Dr. Forel minimizing his dependence on alcohol and insisting on his right to wine with meals:

Now when that old question comes up again as to which of two people is worth preserving, I, thinking of my ambitions once so nearly achieved of being part of English literature, of my child, even of Zelda in the matter of providing for her—must perforce consider myself first. I say that without defiance but simply knowing the limits of what I can do. To stop drinking entirely for six months and see what happens, even to continue the experiment thereafter if successful—only a pig would refuse to do that. Give up strong drink permanently I will. Bind myself to foreswear wine forever I cannot. My vision of the world at its brightest is such that life without theuse of its amentities is impossible. I have lived hard and ruined the essential innocense in myself that could make it that possible, and the fact that I have abused liquor is something to be paid with suffering and death perhaps but not with renunciation. For me it would be as illogical as permanently giving up sex because I caught a disease (which I hasten to assure you I never have) I cannot consider one pint of wine at the days end as anything but one of the rights of man.

Does this sound like a long polemic composed of childish stubborness and ingratitude? If it were that it would be so much easier to make promises. What I gave up for Zelda was women and it wasn’t easy in the position my success gave me—what pleasure I got from comradeship she has pretty well ruined by dragging me of all people into her homosexual obsession. Is there not a certain disingenuousness in her wanting me to give up all alcohol? Would not that justify her conduct completely to herself and prove to her relatives, and our friends that it was my drinking that had caused this calamity, and that I thereby admitted it? Wouldn’t she finally get to believe herself that she had consented to “take me back” only if I stopped drinking? I could only be silent. And any human value I might have would disappear if I condemned myself to a life long ascetisim to which I am not adapted either by habit, temperment or the circumstances of my metier.

The correspondence between Dr. Forel and Fitzgerald shows that they developed mutual respect and that the psychiatrist permitted Fitzgerald to feel that he was a consultant on the case.

Fitzgerald’s Ledger summary of his thirty-third year—“The Crash! Zelda + America”—reveals how he identified the events of his life with the history of his time. He regarded Zelda and himself as eponymic figures—which they became.

39 Switzerland and Recovery [Fall 1930-Summer 1931]

After Zelda sufferedrelapses in the fall of 1930, Dr. Paul Eugen Bleuler was called in for a consultation on 22 November. He was the leading authority on schizophrenia, which he had named. The consultation cost $500, and Zelda thought it was a waste of money. Dr. Bleuler confirmed Dr. Forel’s diagnosis and offered as hope that three out of four cases of schizophrenia were curable. Concerned that Zelda’s parents held him responsible for her collapse, Fitzgerald relayed to the Sayres Dr. Bleuler’s assurance: “This is something that began about five years ago. Let us hope it is only a process of re-adjustment. Stop blaming yourself. You might have retarded it but you couldn’t have prevented it.”

Despite the worry and distractions of the Prangins period, Fitzgerald steadily wrote Post stories to pay for Zelda’s treatment and his residence in Switzerland. He did not touch his novel for months. Zelda’s bills at Prangins totaled 70,561 Swiss francs, or more than $13,000. In 1930—31 Fitzgerald sold seventeen stories and in 1931 achieved his peak pre-Hollywood earnings of $37,599. The stories provided him with opportunities to explain the collapse of his life; and two of the 1930 stories—“One Trip Abroad” (August) and “Babylon Revisited” (December)—are among his masterpieces. “One Trip Abroad” re-examines the familiar situation of the hopeful young American couple who go to Europe seeking artistic or intellectual enrichment. Nicole and Nelson Kelly, having come into money, go to France to study painting and music. Instead they are caught up in dissipation and idleness, until at the end of the story they are patients in a Swiss clinic: “Switzerland is a country where very few things begin, but many things end.” Throughout the story the Kellys notice another youngAmerican couple who become increasingly unwholesome. At the end the Kellys realize that they are that other couple. Fitzgerald’s use of the doppelganger device is entirely successful in this story. He did not reprint “One Trip Abroad,” perhaps because it is virtually a miniature of Tender Is the Night.

“Babylon Revisited” is usually regarded as Fitzgerald’s best story. Here he transferred his guilt to Charlie Wales, an American businessman who went to Paris with his wife and daughter during the boom and became involved in the alcoholic life of rich Americans. After a drunken quarrel with his wife he had locked her out in the snow, contributing to her death from heart disease. While suffering an alcoholic collapse he had given custody of his daughter, Honoria, to his sister-in-law, who detests him. (Wales’s sister-in-law is obviously based on Rosalind Smith, who felt that Fitzgerald was not fit to raise Scottie, but the guardianship in the story is an invention; Fitzgerald never considered giving up Scottie, whom he visited regularly in Paris while living close to Zelda in Switzerland.) At the opening of “Babylon Revisited” Wales returns to Paris in 1930 sober and solvent, intending to regain custody of Honoria; but his hopes are ruined by the appearance of drunken friends from his past. As the title indicates, “Babylon Revisited” is about what it was like to be a rich American in Paris during the Twenties: “—The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn’t real snow. If you didn’t want it to be snow you just paid some money.” Although considerable self-pity is expressed through Wales, Fitzgerald is clear in assigning blame to the abandonment of traditional values. This exchange between Wales and the Ritz barman reveals Wales’s acceptance of his culpability:

“I heard you lost a lot in the crash.”

“I did,” and he added grimly, “but I lost everything I wanted in the boom.”

“Selling short.”

“Something like that.”

They are using the term “selling short” in different ways. The barman is referring to selling stocks short in a bull market, which Wales did not do. Wales is referring to the love and loyalty he sold short to bring about another kind of bankruptcy.

During one of Fitzgerald’s June 1930 trips to Paris he met Thomas Wolfe, who had been asked by Maxwell Perkins to look him up. Wolfewas Perkins’s most recent discovery, and Look Homeward, Angel had been a brilliant success in 1929. With his feeling of loyalty to Scribners and Perkins, Fitzgerald was eager for Wolfe’s friendship. He was greatly impressed by Wolfe’s talent, but he had reservations about the validity of his almost mystical identification with America. Wolfe regarded Fitzgerald as a superannuated Princeton undergraduate and wrote a description of him at the Ritz Bar into a letter: “I finally departed from his company at ten that night in the Ritz Bar where he was entirely surrounded by Princeton boys, all nineteen years old, all drunk, and all half-raw. He was carrying on a spirited conversation with them about why Joe Zinzendorff did not get taken into the Triple-Gazzaza Club. I heard one of the lads say ’Joe’s a good boy, Scotty, but you know he’s a fellow that ain’t got much background.’—I thought it was time for Wolfe to depart, and I did.” His almost pathological suspicion led Wolfe to believe that Perkins had arranged the meeting to get Fitzgerald’s judgment of him. Wolfe made this entry in his notebook: “There was once a young man who came to have a feeling of great trust and devotion for an older man. He thought that this older man had created liberty and hope for him. He thought that this older man was brave and loyal. Then he found that this older man had sent him to a drunken and malicious fellow, who tried to injure and hurt his work in every way possible. He found moreover that this older man had sent him to this drunk in order to get the drunk’s ’opinion’ of him. That is the real end of this story.”

After reading Look Homeward, Angel Fitzgerald reported to Perkins: “You have a great find in him—what he’ll do is incalculable. He has a deeper culture than Ernest and more vitality, if he is slightly less of a poet that goes with the immense surface he wants to cover. Also he lacks Ernests quality of a stick hardened in the fire. He is more susceptible to the world. John Bishop told me that he needed advice about cutting ect, but after reading his book I thought that was nonsense. He strikes me as a man who should be let alone as to length, if he had to be published in five volumes.” Fitzgerald subsequently changed his mind and urged Wolfe to be selective: “You never cut anything out of a book that you regret later.”

During September, Fitzgerald encountered Wolfe in Montreux, Vevey, and Geneva. Fitzgerald relished telling the story of how the six-foot-six Wolfe caused a power failure in a Swiss town by breaking overhead electric wires while gesticulating. By this time Wolfe had decided that Fitzgerald was deliberately interfering with his work and avoided him. Given Wolfe’s method of transposing people into hisnovels, it was inevitable that he would make use of Fitzgerald, who became Hunt Conroy in You Can’t Go Home Again.

In the fall of 1930 Fitzgerald’s base was Lausanne, where he lived at the Hotel de la Paix, but with excursions to Swiss resorts. During Zelda’s hospitalization he began sleeping with other women, and he had an affair with an Englishwoman named Bijou O’Conor. These brief affairs may have been partly a way of countering Zelda’s charges that he was a homosexual.

Fitzgerald brought Scottie to visit Zelda for Christmas 1930, but the reunion was unhappy because Zelda behaved irrationally. Father and daughter went skiing at Gstaad for the rest of her Christmas vacation. In January 1931 Fitzgerald’s father died in Washington, and he went home for the burial. Before sailing, he wrote Dr. Forel suggesting the theory that Zelda’s eczema was caused by “some lack of normal elimination of poison” which attacked the nerves:

Now (I know you’re regarding this as the wildest mysticism but please read on)—now just as the mind of the confirmed alcoholic accepts a certain poisoned condition of the nerves as the one to which he is most at home and in which, therefore, he is the most comfortable, Mrs. F. encourages her nervous system to absorb the continually distilled poison. Then the exterior world, represented by your personal influence, by the shock of Eglantine (The house at Prangins reserved for the most difficult patients, where Zelda was transferred in the summer of 1930.), by the sight of her daughter causes an effort of the will toward reality, she is able to force this poison out of her nerve cells and the process of elimination is taken over again by her skin.

In brief my idea is this. That the eczema is not relative but is the clue to the whole business. I believe that the eczema is a definite concurrent product of every struggle back toward the normal…

Westbound on the New York Fitzgerald met a lively blonde who convinced him that she was a professional card sharp. She called herself Bert Barr, but she was Bertha Weinberg Goldstein, the wife of a Brooklyn judge. Fitzgerald was so charmed by her cleverness that he invited her to collaborate on stories with him, though nothing resulted from this plan. He saw Bert Barr in New York and again in Paris, and wrote her into his 1931story “On Your Own,” which expressed Fitzgerald’s feelings about his father through an American actress returning from England for her father’s funeral in Maryland. The story was declined by all the magazines Ober offered it to. “On Your Own” was published in The Price Was High (1979).

Edward Fitzgerald was buried at St. Mary’s Church in Rockville, Maryland. In a draft of an unfinished essay, “The Death of My Father,” Fitzgerald assessed his father’s influence on him:

I loved my father—always deep in my subconscious I have referred judgements back to him, what he would have thought or done. He loved me—and felt a deep responsibility for me—I was born several months after the sudden death of my two elder sisters + he felt what the effect of this would be on my mother, that he would be my only moral guide. He became that to the best of his ability. He came from tired old stock with very little left of vitality and mental energy but he managed to raise a little for me.

Fitzgerald felt that his father was his link with the American past. In Tender Is the Night he salvaged a passage from “On Your Own” to express the filial feelings he shared with Dick Diver: “These dead, he knew them all, their weather-beaten faces with blue flashing eyes, the spare violent bodies, the souls made of new earth in the forest-heavy darkness of the seventeenth century.

“ ’Good-by, my father—good-by, all my fathers.’”

While in America, Fitzgerald went to Montgomery to report on Zelda’s condition to the Sayres. He knew that the Judge disapproved of him, and Fitzgerald wanted him to believe that he was competent to take care of Zelda and Scottie. In New York, he visited Charles Mac-Arthur and Helen Hayes. They saw each other infrequently after the Twenties, but MacArthur and Fitzgerald always appreciated each other. The two authors went to see the play Grand Hotel and were ejected for being drunk.

When he returned to Europe at the end of February, Fitzgerald found that Zelda had made marked improvement during his absence; by April she was allowed to take trips with him to Montreux and Geneva. Her letters to Fitzgerald became affectionate and hopeful, expressing her dependence on him:

Darling, Berne is such a funny town: we bumped into Hansel and Gretel and the Babes in the Wood were just under the big clock. It must be a haven for all lost things, painted on itself that way. Germanic legends slide over those red, peeling roofs like a fantastic shower and the ends of all stories probably lie in the crevasses. We climbed the cathedral tower in whispers, and there it was hidden in the valley, paved with sugar blocks, the home of good witches, and I asked of all they painted statues three wishes

That you should love me

That you love me

You love me!

O can you? I love you so.

The train rode home through a beautiful word: “alpin-glun.” The mountains had covered their necks in pink tulle like coquettish old ladies covering scars and wrinkles and gold ran down the hill-sides into the lake.

When we got home they said you had ’phoned, so I phoned back as indiscreetly as possible since I couldn’t bear not having heard your voice, that lovely warm feeling like an emotional massage.

O my love—how can you love a silly girl who buys cheese and plaited bread from enchanted princes in the public market and eats them on the streets of a city that pops into life like a cucoo-clock when you press the right note of appreciation

I love you, dear.

At the end of 1930 Zelda resumed writing short stories at Prangins. Ober tried to place them, but only one was published, “Miss Ella,” in the December 1931 Scribner’s. Fitzgerald also tried to have them published under the blanket title “Stories from a Swiss Clinique.” With the ballet taken away from her, Zelda was again seeking some form of creative achievement. The clear difficulty was that in returning to fiction she was competing with her husband at an endeavor in which she couldn’t win. “Miss Ella” resembles the girl-series for College Humor in technique. An atmosphere story set in the Deep South, it narrates the empty life of an old maid whose wedding had been canceled by the suicide of a rejected suitor. As is characteristic of her fiction, there is little dialogue; the story is told by the author rather than dramatized. Perkins wrote Fitzgerald that Zelda’s style distracted the reader: “But when we send the proof I was going to ask Zelda if she would consider whether her figures of speech—I suppose they would be called similes—were not too numerous, and sometimes too remote.- That is, sometimes she likens something in the story to something too distant from it; and this has the effect sometimes of putting the emphasis on the figure of the simile instead of the thing to which it is likened.”

When Fitzgerald claimed credit for naming the Jazz Age, Perkins responded in May 1931 with an invitation from Alfred Dashiell, managing editor of Scribner’s Magazine, to write an article about it. “Echoes of the Jazz Age” appeared in the November issue. This postmortem on “the most expensive orgy in history” shows the operation of that part of Fitzgerald that needed to analyze, judge, and assess his experiences and the collective experiences of his time that he had assimilated. His view of the Jazz Age fully recognizes the vulgarity andwaste, but it also evokes the sense of boundless possibility that he felt: “It bore him up, flattered him and gave him more money than he had dreamed of, simply for telling people that he felt as they did, that something had to be done with all the nervous energy stored up and unexpended in the war.” The essay concludes on a note of loss—regret for lost opportunity, regret for lost youth, and that characteristic Fitzgerald recognition of the loss of the ability to feel:

Now once more the belt is tight and we summon the proper expression of horror as we look back at our wasted youth. Sometimes, though, there is a ghostly rumble among the drums, an asthmatic whisper in the trombones that swings me back into the early twenties when we drank wood alcohol and every day and in every way grew better and better, and there was a first abortive shortening of the skirts, and girls all looked alike in sweater dresses, and people you didn’t want to know said “Yes, we have no bananas,” and it seemed only a question of a few years before the older people would step aside and let the world be run by those who saw things as they were—and it all seems rosy and romantic to us who were young then, because we will never feel quite so intensely about our surroundings any more.

The evocation of unrecapturable emotions—one of the denning qualities of Fitzgerald’s best work—would become increasingly difficult for him in the Thirties.

Fitzgerald sold nine stories in 1931: “Indecision” (written in January and February), “A New Leaf” (April), “Flight and Pursuit” (April), “Emotional Bankruptcy” (June; the last Josephine story), “Between Three and Four” (June), “A Change of Class” (July), “Six of One—” (July), “A Freeze-Out” (September), and “Diagnosis” (October). None of these is distinguished, and the Post complained to Ober that Fitzgerald’s stories weren’t up to his standard. “Six of One—” was rejected by the Post and published by Red Book. The story, which contrasts the sons of wealth with poor boys, arraigns the wastage of the privileged class. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald remained sensitive to the attractions of aristocracy: “The young princes in velvet gathered in lovely domesticity around the queen amid the hush of rich draperies may presently grow up to be Pedro the Cruel or Charles the Mad, but the moment of beauty was there.” In response to the Post’s recommendation that he write more fiction with American settings, Fitzgerald provided two plodding stories about the Depression, “Between Three and Four” and “A Change of Class.”

Mollie Fitzgerald came to Paris in May for a short visit. AlthoughFitzgerald had prepared for his mother’s arrival by warning his Paris friends that she was eccentric, they found her behavior unexceptionable. In July 1931 Fitzgerald, Zelda, and Scottie spent two happy weeks together. Zelda later wrote of this time of hope:

But we went to Annecy for two weeks in summer, and said at the end that we’d never go there again because those weeks had been perfect and no other time could match them. First we lived at the Beau-Rivage, a rambler rose-colored hotel, with a diving platform wedged beneath our window between the sky and the lake, but there were enormous flies on the raft so we moved across the lake to Menthon. The water was greener there and the shadows long and cool and the scraggly gardens staggered up the shelved precipice to the Hotel Palace. We played tennis on the baked clay courts and fished tentatively from a low brick wall. The heat of summer seethed in the resin of the white pine bath-houses. We walked at night towards a cafe blooming with Japanese lanterns, white shoes gleaming like radium in the damp darkness. It was like the good gone times when we still believed in summer hotels and the philosophies of popular songs. Another night we danced a Wiener waltz, and just simply swep’ around.

In August the Fitzgeralds visited the Murphys in the Austrian Tyrol, where their son Patrick was being treated for tuberculosis. Zelda was relaxed and had a good time; but Fitzgerald was upset when Scottie mistakenly reported that she had been bathed in the same water the Murphy children had used. His concern about his own tuberculosis made him uneasy about exposing Scottie to Patrick. The small crisis was written into Tender Is the Night.

During the summer of 1931, when she was virtually an outpatient at Prangins, Zelda steadily gained confidence in her ability to face the world and was hopeful that they would be able to build a new life. She wrote Fitzgerald encouragingly:

Please don’t be depressed: nothing is sad about you except your sadness and the frayed places on your pink kimona and that you care so much about everything—You are the only person who’s ever done all they had to do, damn well, and had enough left over to be dissatisfied. You are the best—the best—the best and genius is so much a part of you that when you find a person you like you think they have it too because it’s your only conception—O my love, I love you so—and I want you to be happy. Can’t you possibly be just a little bit glad that we are alive and that all the year that’s coming we can be to-gether and work and love and get some peace for all the things we’ve paid so much for learning? Stop looking for solace: there isn’t any and if there were, life would be a baby affair.

On 15 September 1931 Zelda was discharged from Prangins after sixteen months. The Fitzgeralds drove to Paris and sailed for America on 19 September aboard the Aquitania, the ship that first took them to Europe in 1921. They had lived abroad four and a half years—three in France, of which twenty-two months were spent in Paris. One of their albums has a photo of Zelda—perhaps a passport picture—taken at this time, which Fitzgerald captioned “Recovered.” She looks olderthan thirty-one, and her features have lost their hawklike edge. The eczema had coarsened her skin, and she had developed a strained expression. It is the photograph of a woman who has been worn down by something. Fitzgerald’s Ledger summary for his thirty-fourth year was: “A Year in Lausanne. Waiting. From Darkness to Hope.

Next Part 6 The Long Way Out [1931-1934]

Published as Some Sort Of Epic Grandeur: The Life Of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Matthew J. Bruccoli (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1991 - second edition; 1981 - first edition).