Chronicle and Comment
by The New York Herald

Apropos of the survey of Mr. Scott Fitzgerald's “The “Beautiful and Damned” published elsewhere in this issue of the book section, we are quoting a writer in the World's Work for June, 1921, on the manner in which Mr. Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise” was discovered and published: “Two years or so ago a young man only a short time out of college presented himself at a New York publishing house with the manuscript of a novel. There is nothing particularly striking about that part of the story; a thousand other young men were doing the same thing at approximately the same time. But in the case of this young man the story happened to have a sequel. He had the abounding confidence of youth in his manuscript, but it was a confidence tempered by diffidence and certain misgivings, he realized, he said, that he knew little of the art or business of novel writing. As it was a first novel, he did not anticipate any considerable success. He prepared himself to be satisfied with a small sale for the book. In fact, he would not be disappointed if the first year's sale did not go beyond thirty thousand copies.


“Now, the older man to whom the young novelist was confiding his doubts and aspirations was of a sympathetic disposition. Also there was a bond between the two based upon the same university traditions; it was ‘03 of the Gothic towers and stately elms talking to '18. So '03 held back the smile and gravely expounded many things that are matters of everyday knowledge to any one engaged in the business of publishing, but that the world outside seems never able to grasp. He explained that a sale of 5,000 copies represented a measure of success to the average novel published, and pointed to several novels of unquestioned quality that no amount of hard work and discriminating praise had been able to push beyond a sale of 1,800 or 2,000 copies. A sale of thirty thousand! Of course, that happened at times. In the Mexican lottery, somebody had to draw the grand prize. Wide-eyed youth, listening politely, acquiesced, but was unconvinced.


“It was not the manuscript just as then submitted, but the manuscript after considerable revision that was accepted and published. In this particular case, not only did the manuscript undergo revision, but also the adviser's opinion. It was not many months before '03 had the pleasure of wilting to '18 something to this effect: 'Dear Scott Fitzgerald: “This Side of Paradise” has already passed that thirty thousand mark of which yon so wildly talked.”

Published in The New York Herald newspaper (March 5, 1922, Chronicle and Comment).