Literary Libels—Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
by Thomas A. Boyd

St. Paul presents to the eye the spectacle of a huge city clinging tenaciously to the east and alarmed over the danger of falling into the west. One of the remaining tentacles that saves it from falling over this ignominious brink is the pronunciation of the name; good St. Paul residents whose names are in the social register call it Sin Paul. Thus, a stranger coming to St. Paul and wishing only to know the socially elect could well be guided by the pronunciation of the town's name.

It was here that Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was bom and here that he wrote his first novel. In the interim of these two notable events he seems to have wandered afield: entering a preparatory school in the east, spending four years at Princeton, and visiting friends in Washington and New York. Then the United States entered the war and Fitzgerald made off for an officer's training camp, subsequently to become a first lieutenant. After spending more than a year at Camp Taylor, Camp Gordon, and Camp Sheridan, Alabama, Fitzgerald returned to New York where he tried to make his living writing advertisements. But he wanted to get married and he knew he could not do so on the money he was earning. So he returned to St. Paul and, in an attic room of his mother's home on Summit Ave., began to rewrite a book of which he had written the first draft in training camp. It took three months of hard work to complete the book and two weeks after it had been sent to the publishers, it was accepted. It really was the first popular young man's novel that was at all serious and as a result it brought to the Fitzgerald pockets an almost fabulous amount of money [0]. With that sum and with a fairly open market for his future brain brats he married and set up an establishment in New York.

When I came to St. Paul I was interested most in meeting people who could tell me of the intimate side of Fitzgerald. Being charmed with This Side of Paradise and with the remarkable promise it evinced, I wanted to know something of the person who wrote it other than that which was appearing in the literary supplements and magazines. From numerous opinions of him given by people who know him and his family, I conjectured that in some way he had ruffled the composure of his fellow townsmen. It might have been, I thought, that he refused to pronounce the name of the city of his birth in the provincial way. But he had done something, I was sure.

One of his friends of an earlier day, replying to a question I had asked, told me: “Yes. I know Scott very well. He is an awful snob.” Another reported that at the present time he was sequestered in a New York apartment with $10,000 sunk in liquor and that he was bent on drinking it before he did anything else.

Still another related the story of how in New York Fitzgerald became bored with his guests and called the fire department. When the firemen arrived and asked where the fire was Scott pounded his stomach and dramatically announced: “The fire is right here. Inside me.”

One or two admitted that “Scottie was a great boy” but further than that they would not pledge themselves. That all of these cheerfully thrown handsful of mud could be true I doubted. Further I was a little put out with my informants because, I reflected, I could have imagined more lurid stories than those myself.

Then one day someone told me that Fitzgerald was coming to St. Paul to spend the winter. He was to take a house at White Bear [1] until the weather got cold and then he was to move into the city. Eager to meet him I awaited the opportunity with a great deal of interest.

But when the time came it was on one of those torrid days of late summertime when the collar around one's neck becomes a wriggling snake with a hot stocky belly. With persistency born of madness the sun had beaten down on the low roof of the newspaper office for seven or eight hours. Shapes of blue smoke seemed to hover just below the ceiling and these, reinforced by voluminous puffs of dark smoke made by the machinery in the composing room, so completely clogged the wind-pipe that breathing was made a business to be engaged in with great seriousness. The typewriter before which I sat balked like an army mule whenever I essayed to strike a letter-key; the hot stickiness of the room had permeated its joints and whenever it allowed itself to be conquered, made an impression on the copy paper that was no more than a blur.

Thoroughly disgusted, I was all for calling it a day when a close acquaintance walked into the office and said, “Scott Fitzgerald is out at White Bear. Let’s go out and see him.” Had the day been less stifling I would have been more impressed. As it was I managed only to answer that as no place in the world could be hotter than the office where I then was I would be glad to drive out with him to meet Mr. Fitzgerald.

We were soon on our way, and as we rode past the small pumpkin-planted farms the various rumors that I had heard concerning Fitzgerald came to my mind. I judged that if they were true he would appear rather dissipated. No one could drink a thousand bottles of liquor in one year without having a red nose and blue-veined face. Not even Anton Dvorak. [2] Nor could anyone, because he was bored with his guests, telephone a hurry call to the fire department and not show that he was a peculiar person. These thoughts, and others of more marvelous fabric, engaged me as we plowed through the necessary 10 miles of white smoky dust to reach White Bear.

“Now that we are here how are we going to find the house,” my friend wanted to know, and I was about to tell him that we might ask at the yacht club, when a Ford laundry delivery truck coughed past. We hailed the driver and explained our difficulty. “You wish to be directed to the home of Mr. Scott Fitzgerald the novelist,” he answered in a high voice. “Well, if you’ll just follow behind me I will take you there because I am delivering some laundry to them.” We thanked him and drew our car in rear of his, and in this way we reached a modestly proportioned house whose color, setting and architecture was admirably suited for a summer home.

Grasping a bottle of synthetic gin [3] firmly around the neck I preceded my friend out of the car and up the path to the house. A voice answering the bell announced: “I’ll be down in a minute.” It was a strong boyish voice that could not have ascended from a liquor-parched throat Another literary legend punctured.

Out on the enclosed porch, with the bottle of gin resting on a table beside us, we waited for the appearance of Mr. Fitzgerald. In a few minutes he came and, on seeing us, exclaimed to me: “Why, I thought you’d be wearing a frock coat and a long white beard.”

I scanned him closely. His eyes were blue and clear; his jaw was squared at the end which perceptibly protruded; his nose was straight and his mouth, though sensitive looking, was regular in outline. His hair which was corn-colored, was wavy. His were the features that the average American mind never fails to associate with beauty. But there was a quality in the eye with which the average mind is unfamiliar.

“I thought you would be a baby with rouged lips, so I too am disappointed,” I told him.

We resumed our seats while he visited the kitchen, returning in a few minutes with lemons, oranges and cracked ice. I was surprised that he only brought two glasses. “I suppose that’s synthetic gin you’ve got there. Will you have lemon or orange.” We named our choice and while squeezing the juice of an orange into a glass turned and said: “You like Mencken, don’t you?”

“That would be like saying that I like the law of gravity,” I replied, “but I suppose I would say yes.”

“Speaking of Mencken,” I resumed, “I thought I saw a Baltimore forefinger in This Side of Paradise. There is hardly a good book these days without it.”

“Well!” he replied, “I don’t think Main Street would have been written if Mencken hadn’t been born. There are pages in that book that read just like the Repetition Generale, but that isn’t true with This Side of Paradise. It was not until after I had got the proofs of my book back from the publishers that I learned of Mencken. I happened across the Smart Set one day and I thought ‘Here’s a man whose name I ought to know. I guess I’ll stick it in the proof sheets.’ But I’ve met Mencken since then and I’m glad I put his name in. Have you ever met him?”

I sorrowfully replied that I had not, but that I meant to some day.

“Gee, he’s great. He’s the one man in America for whom I have a complete respect.”

“But what is he like,” I wanted to know.

“Well, he’s like a good natured beer-drinking German whom you would imagine liking to sit around in his stocking feet.”

“I can conceive of him being good-natured and liking to drink beer, if it is good beer, but somehow the shoeless feet won’t fit in. I suppose it’s because he plays the piano or else I have the orthodox complex. But he certainly has made many things possible for the younger generation.”

“Yes, you bet he has. He even helped boost Floyd Dell’s Moon-Calf into success. There’s a book which certainly touches the depths of banality. He hasn’t even a pretense of style and his manner of dumping youthful history into the reader’s lap with such a profound air of importance is simply disgusting. No, for once Mencken made a mistake.”

At the time I was a Dell enthusiast so I took Fitzgerald’s criticism with a gulp. I had nothing on the subject to offer in return, and the conversation was as self-conscious as a fish out of water; my mind grasped at the first thought that entered my head.

“Sandburg,” I said. “What do you think of Sandburg?” [4]

And again my choice was horrific.

“Sandburg is probably an intelligent fellow. But to say that he is a poet is rot. The great city of Chicago felt a literary awakening and they looked around for a verse writer to call great, Sandburg was the only one in sight and immediately the legend of the great poet of the proletariat was built up to fit the shoulders of Sandburg.”

But this time my position was not untenable.

“But, I don’t agree with you there,” I said. “Sandburg is a great poet. There are only two or three great poets in America and surely Sandburg is one of them.”

“But he doesn’t write any great lines. Tell me one of his verses that stick in your memory like Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn?” [5]

“Well, there’s ‘Five Towns on the B. and O.’“

“All right, say it.”

And I tried and failed. It may have been the fourth synthetic gin and orange juice concoction but my tongue would go no further than: “Hungry smoky shanties hanging to the slope.”

“See there, you can’t do it. And what kind of a poet is a man who can’t make lines to stick in your head. Why even Vachel Lindsay—” [6]

And he started off a verse from the “Chinese Nightingale.”

“From that point of view probably you’re right, but Sandburg works otherwise. He makes his poems so that in their entirety they are ravishing. They are a complete thing in themselves. You see in them lyricism. The whole drama of the human race unfolds when he recites one of his verses.”

“Why he’s not half as lyrical as the feet of Charlie Chaplin.” [7]

“Well, if you’re going to drag in Charlie Chaplin’s pathetic feet, I can’t discuss Sandburg with you any more. I should like to see Chaplin because I admire his work so much, but I detest the whole caboodle of the movies outside of him. Consequently, I am seldom aware when a picture of his is showing in town.”

“But you might as well protest against a Cunarder [8] or the income tax as to protest against the movies,” said Fitzgerald. “The movies are here to stay.”

“Yes, I suppose they are, but then so is Uncle Tom’s Cabin. [9] By the way, what do you think of Ben Hecht [10] as a writer.”

“Oh, I like the things of his that I’ve seen very much. I’m looking forward to his novel that’s coming out this fall. Erik Dorn, I think is the name of it.”

“Erik Dorn, yes. So am I looking out for it. I remember seeing one of Hecht’s plays shown at a ragamuffin theater in Chicago. It was about a hungry bum who was spending the night on the sidewalk. Toward morning as he was passing a plate-glass window in a store he saw his reflection and exclaimed: ‘Well, I’m a cock-eyed son-of-a-gun, if it ain’t Jesus.’ I thought it was good.”

“That’s funny. I’ve no doubt that Hecht will do wonders in fiction, but the author whose book I want to see most is John Dos Passos.”

“Oh yes, I heard about his book. It’s called Three Soldiers, [11] isn’t it?”

“That’s it, and I’ve a hunch that it will be one of the best, if not the best book of the year,” Fitzgerald said enthusiastically.

Three months later that proved to be a very wise prediction.

“I’ve got Charles Norris’s new novel [12] in the house. John Farrar of the Bookman sent it to me for review. Have you seen it?”

I replied that I had read the book and that I thought it very good.

"Well, what did you like about it? It didn't seem to me to touch his first book."

“Well, the question of marriage is a rather important one and for one to write a novel, or what Norris would call an interpretative novel, of marriage, in which the author fails to take sides either for or against marriage and divorce is quite an achievement. And then Norris makes his characters into real human beings. That’s more than many fictionists do.”

“Maybe you’re right. But I can’t see much in it. The grouping isn’t clever and he has loaded his book with too many characters. It’s too much like a brief.”

“Norris can take care of himself. Tell me about your new novel. I’ve read the first installment of it in the Metropolitan.” [13]

“It’s something after the manner of Linda Condon. [14] Hergesheimer tried to show the effect on a woman after her once- legitimate beauty had passed. That is what I am trying to do with Gloria.”

“But that isn’t all, is it?”

“No, that isn’t all, but you wait and read it.” He disappeared into the house and returned with the manuscript of The Beautiful and Damned. [15] “Here it is.”

It was written on ordinary sized paper and not typed. The pencil scrawl was in large letters and altogether it must have been two-feet thick. This thing must be almost 200,000 words, I thought. After I had finished reading the first chapter (He writes legibly), I remarked that the manuscript was not very much like the printed story in the Metropolitan.

“Look here,” I said, “this is much better than the Metropolitan version. There were some excellent descriptive passages entirely left out in the part that I read.”

“Well,” he looked in rather a funny way, “they bought the rights to do anything they like with it when they paid for it.”

“Of course it will appear as it was originally written when it comes out in book form, won’t it?”

“Surely it will, I only hope—” and then he was silent.

“But good lord, if I were you I’d go around telling people that the original story was different from the Metropolitan story. Why, that Metropolitan story,” I confessed, “was nothing but cheap sensationalism without any coherence at all.”

As he offered no remark on the subject I turned the conversation. “What started you writing?”

“I’ve written ever since I can remember. I wrote short stories in school here, I wrote plays and poetry in prep school, and I wrote plays and short stories for the Triangle and the ‘Lit’ at Princeton. But Hugh Walpole was the man who started me writing novels. One day I picked up one of his books while riding on a train from New York to Washington. After I had read about 100 pages I thought that ‘if this fellow can get away with it as an author I can too.’ His books seemed to me to be as bad as possible. The principal thing he did was to make unessentials seem important, but he was one of the near best-sellers. After that I dug in and wrote my first book.”

“Well, you are probably right about Walpole and you may be right about Floyd Dell, but I think you’re wrong about Charlie Norris and I know you’re wrong about Sandburg. The trouble is you don’t get Sandburg. It’s the same way with Sherwood Anderson. [16] Now that Anderson has been boosted so long by really intelligent persons the pretenders are beginning to praise him and ascribe motives to his work of which I know he never dreamed. There’s something to Sandburg, a lot. I wish I could tell you about it, but it’s not clear enough in my mind.”

“I sure wish I could see it. If the man even wrote as well as Vachel Lindsay—you can remember Lindsay’s stuff. ‘Booth led boldly with a big brass drum.’”[17]

“But that’s only cheap alliteration and it comes from a howling Methodist Y.M.C.A. proselyte to right-living. You can’t seriously consider him.”

But just then another automobile horn sounded from the gravel path and we prepared to leave. St. Paul already was paying homage to success! The sight of the large automobile stopping in front of the Fitzgerald home was an inspirational sight, I reflected. People will go 10 miles to warm themselves in the warm rays thrown off by his glory. Oh, well, it were better that the singer of beauty be honored even at the cost of annihilation of the decalogue rather than that it be left to its own devices.

Our trip to town was a pleasant one. For some unaccountable reason a slight breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees and so I was deposited at my apartment in a not ill humor. Later that evening I seated myself before a typewriter and filled four sheets of copy paper with an account of my visit with Fitzgerald. I began with my first impression of him, of how he had appeared at the head of the stairs clad in a suit of Alice-blue pajamas and I closed the interview warning him to watch the careers of Robert W. Chambers, Rupert Hughes, and Richard Harding Davis[17a]. I also accused him of writing solely for money and of making a bid for the bestseller class. This interview, with a large photograph of Fitzgerald and his wife, was published in the St. Paul Daily News the following Sunday.

The following Monday the fellow who had driven me to White Bear met Fitzgerald at lunch, and he later reported to me that Fitzgerald thought my published interview with him "father stupid." Probably it was; there seems to be no necessity for my having said that when he greeted me he was dressed in a suit of Alice-blue pajamas. It depressed me for a time because I was honestly anxious to form a friendship with this young man and it now seemed that such a thing was out of the question. But my apprehension was incorrect as I discovered in the course of a chance meeting with Fitzgerald a few days later. He was very cordial and failed to make mention of the interview in any way.

In all phases of life and probably in after-life every state of existence, no matter how onerous, seems to possess some recompense. In Hell one is entirely separated from the godly; in heaven there are, so we are told, no functioning congressmen nor any police officers; a dweller in an apartment is not bothered with shoveling coal; in the South Sea Islands, if we are to believe Paul Gauguin and Frederick O'Brien[17b], there are no rentals, taxes of storekeepers to be taken into account. But in Minnesota, even the climate is adamantine in its stem Christian resolve to keep its inhabitants from falling into the ways of pleasure. So we were plunged from a hot disagreeable summer into a cold frozen winter that left one with the alternative of skating and tobogganing parties or feeding the hungry red mouth of the residential furnace all evening.

Last year was no exception and the Fitzgerald family gave up the summer place rather early and removed to one of the new apartment hotels here. After that we saw each other daily. Scott was at that time beginning a comedy for the stage [18] and he felt that his work would be less interrupted if he rented an office in a down-town business building. His new novel The Beautiful and Damned had appeared in its last installment in a popular magazine, and Fitzgerald had suggested that I should not read it until I could read the entire book.

He had been hard at work rewriting parts of the original story and changing it to advantage so that it would be ready for publication in book form by March 3. He had also written three or four short stories. Two of them he sold to popular magazines and the price he got for one, he told me, was $1,500. And then he worked nearly every day on his play. And yet people with the utmost seriousness report stories of Fitzgerald’s abandoned carousals that, to hear them tell it, happened every day. Any extraordinary person in the mind of the ordinary man must have a thirst like a camel and a belly the size of an elephant. Even such a lesser light as Woodrow Wilson has been killed by too much liquor and ladies-by the populace. So must the vulgar ever prate. Of course, the obvious reason for all this is that the public ever must associate the author with the principal character in the books he writes. So, if the principal character takes an occasional drink or winks an eye at a pretty woman the author of the book necessarily must be a low fellow with a morality of a libertine and the taste of a bar-fly. One never associates lewd stories and midnight parties with Dr. Frank Crane and Orison Swett Marden[17c] though they are as likely to indulge in them as George Moore[17d] and Marcel Proust.

Enthusiasm runs high in the nature of Fitzgerald. He is even enthusiastic in his dislikes and certainly he is whole-hearted over the things that he enjoys. To be with him for an hour is to have the blood in one’s veins thawed and made fluent. His bright humor is as infectious as smallpox and as devastating to gloom. He has humor all right, someone may remark, but it is never shown when he is made the butt of it. Of course, it isn’t. He is not enough of a dissimulator for that. What person honestly does enjoy being made the butt of a joke? I have searched far but the man still remains a bird of paradise. Some persons, when a joke is made at their expense, will smile, but the mouth will droop in one corner, like a courageous prize-fighter who has been struck on the nose. No, the entire psychology of the joke is against one’s smiling at one’s own expense. Where is the “sudden glory” of which Max Eastman [19] speaks? How can one appreciate the “cracker” when it knocks out three of his front teeth?

At this time a man passed through St. Paul who had, years ago, written three or four good books, but since had almost completely stopped writing to devote his time to drink.

One day after we left him and were walking up the street Scott remarked:

“There goes one of the last survivors of the ‘booze and inspiration’ school. Bret Harte [20] was one of the earliest ones and it was all right in his day, but the old school of writers who learned to drink and to write while reporting for a newspaper is dying out. Do you remember that story of how Harte, visiting Mark Twain in California, said one night that he had to write a story and get it to the publisher the next afternoon?”

I replied that I might have heard it but if I had I must have forgotten.

“Well, Bret Harte came to Mark Twain’s home one afternoon for a visit, and after he had been there a few hours he said that he had to write a story that night because he had promised the publishers of a magazine that he would have it for them in the morning. So Twain suggested that Harte could use his study, but Harte said, ‘I’ve got plenty of time. Let’s talk a while.’

“They killed most of the afternoon talking and after dinner Twain again suggested that Harte go up to his study and start to work. But again Harte was not ready. ‘There’s no rush. Let’s talk a while longer.’

“After a while it got to be 1 o’clock, and Twain, becoming sleepy, told Harte that he was going to bed and asked him whether he wanted anything before he started to work.

“‘Well,’ said Harte. ‘If you’ll have a fire made in the study and a quart of whiskey sent up I’ll be all right.’

“So Twain went to bed and Harte to the study. About 5 o’clock in the morning a servant was called, and another fire was made in the room and another bottle of whiskey was brought in. At 9 o’clock Harte came downstairs to breakfast with the story of 6,000 words, completed.

“But that gang is not to be met any more. I can’t think of how he could have done it. For me, narcotics are deadening to work. I can understand any one drinking coffee to get a stimulating effect, but whiskey—oh, no.”

“This Side of Paradise doesn’t read as if it were written on coffee,” I remarked.

“And it wasn’t. You’ll laugh, but it was written on Coca Cola. Coca Cola bubbles up and fizzes inside enough to keep me awake.”

Imagine Amory Blaine being born of a Coca Cola mother! But it is exuberant and sparkling enough to have been, at that.

Fitzgerald’s apartment was perhaps 20 minutes walk from his office, and when there was not too much snow on the ground, he would walk rather than take the street car. From this, many people got the idea that he positively refused to ride on the street car, and many of them began to uphold him in what they considered another of his eccentricities.

His writing is never thought out. He creates his characters, and they are likely to lead him into almost any situation. His phrasing is done in the same way. It is rare that he searches for a word. Most of the time words come to his mind and then spill themselves in a riotous frenzy of song and color all over the page. Some days he writes as many as 7,000 or 8,000 words; and then, with a small Rogets Thesaurus, he carefully goes over his work, substituting synonyms for any unusual words that appear more than once in seven or eight consecutive pages. Bernard Shaw has said that no one should write until he can supply at least five synonyms for any word that comes into his mind. Mr. Shaw says that he is able to do that, but it is not an entirely wild speculation to venture that if anyone entered the Shaw study sometimes he might see a well thumbed Thesaurus lying around.

Fitzgerald is extraordinarily curious. To that quality in him is due the responsibility for a number of the legends that have been built up around him. To illustrate:

We had gone into a cigar store to roll dice [21] for a package of cigarettes. Fitzgerald rolled the dice first and the highest combination that turned was three of sixes. I must have been standing on a four-leafed clover because when I threw the dice I was apportioned four treys. But Fitzgerald did not notice. A blind man, feeling his way along with walking stick, had come in the door and Fitzgerald was watching him as if he were a unique fact. “You lose,” I called. “I’ve got four treys,” but he did not hear. So I paid the cigar man for both packages, and we went out into the street. I noticed that Fitzgerald was acting queerly as we stepped on the sidewalk. He seemed quite unsteady on his feet and, as I looked up, I saw that he had closed his eyes. Silently, I watched him walk down the crowded street, feeling his way along by tapping against the sides of the buildings with his walking stick. A young woman, passing in company with a man, exclaimed, “Oh look at that poor boy. How sad it must be to be blind.” But Fitzgerald walked on, his eyes shut. He had almost experienced the sensations of a blind man for an entire block on a crowded street when, unluckily, two middle aged women passed us by and passing, one said to the other: “Oh look at that.” And then Fitzgerald opened his eyes.

I told you he was curious. When he discovered that the woman’s ejaculation had been caused by the sight of a bargain window in a department store he was furious.

“It’s perhaps just as well that no one recognized you else you would be reported to have blind staggers.” I said to him.

“Didn’t I walk very well—as well as the blind man?” His voice was truculent.

“No, you didn’t. It is remarkable that you didn’t knock your brains out. There were a number of times when I started to take hold of your arm to keep some passerby from knocking you down.”

At that he seemed rather downcast, but he almost immediately cheered up, thinking, no doubt, that he could sell his experiences to some popular magazine.

Fitzgerald is hardly what Miss Fanby Hurst[22] calls an "Art for God Saker." He writes his books because he has something to write about and it pleases him that he has written them, but if they were not to sell at least 50,000 copies he would feel cheated and highly indignant. Two or three times he has written stories with no other purpose in mind than to sell them. To explain: he took the plot of an old story and made it fit the pattern of the kind of thing that is known today as the short story. It is a simple matter to rewrite a story that has been published some fifty years ago and it is as easy to sell it if the story is properly enough clothed in a modem dress. But much more often he writes solely to please himself and the result may be seen in such yams as "Dalrymple Goes Wrong," which sets forth the thought that if a returned soldier can't get honest work to support himself he had better find dishonest work because poverty is the greatest crime in the world. Arnold Bennett, the great English novelist, by the way, uses the same idea as the motif of his latest novel. Or again, Fitzgerald, through his stories, will take you through a highly imaginative land of his own creation which he has made half with sheer fun and half with keen satire.

About three months ago Fitzgerald decided that he would write a play. He had written a number of them for his class at the University of Princeton, but they were more or less nothing but prettily blended handsful of confetti. This play, that he was now going to write, he planned, would have a long run at some Broadway theater and then tour the country for a year or so. He finished it in six weeks and, as it is a highly original comedy of the kind that America needs most of all, some discerning man such as Harris or Frohman is probably getting it ready for production.[23]

Fitzgerald, perhaps subconsciously, realizes that America has never learned how properly to smile. And so he is going to teach America to turn up the comers of its mouth, both of them at the same time.

Apparently the editors of the magazine in which The Beautiful and Damned was published slashed every line from the novel that was not sensational. Kissing matches, cocktail parties and similar bordel bait were handled in a manner suggestive of Town Topics; excellent descriptive passages were clipped from the story by a hand seemingly barbarous enough to whitewash the Mona Lisa. There seemed to be no idea, certainly no definite plan to the book. It was like a necklace with a broken cord, the jewels scattered carelessly over the floor.

And that is unfortunate because many intelligent persons, lured into purchase of this magazine because they were attracted by Scott's first novel, This Side of Paradise, will have read the instalment-by-instalment novel and believing the book to be identical with the serialization, will not read the book.

Ergo: it is no more than just that readers must be set aright with regard to events that inspire, and the manner in which they are written within the pages of The Beautiful and Damned, published by the Scribner's March 1.

Figures of speech swiftly flap their wings toward the open door of his mind; all that Scott has to do is to choose discriminately among them. Words rush pell-mell from his pencil end and spill themselves in a frenzy of brilliant colors over the manuscript of the new novel, the short story or the play on which he is practicing his rich and unusual talents. Physically and mentally he is orderly; this is evidenced in his books, particularly in The Beautiful and Damned, a book which is, to my mind, one of the best pieces of sustained coherence that I have read. In it there is an idea, logically presented and faithfully carried out, that implies utter disillusionment.

Anthony Patch and Gloria, the principal characters in the book, are firmly and illuminatingly limned; old Adam Patch, Anthony's grandfather, a man of many millions and a contributor to Comstockery, is as sharply drawn a character as my imagination can conceive. A pity we see so little of him. Dick is the blush of perfection for asininity; he seems a composite of a number of persons. I hazard a guess and say-Rupert Hughes, the author-whom else, I know not. At any rate, he is the least distinct character in the book. At times he is a flabby-handed Y.M.C.A. lobby-lounging right-thinker. At other times, he has flashes of sophistication and humaneness (then he is F. S. F.), again he is a conceited-well, I give it up. Maury Noble seems somewhat vague and shadowy, remembered chiefly for the hand he waves, pawlike, in a gesture of negation.

Only in Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie is the disintegration of a man shown with more bludgeoning effect. The final scenes are poignant, relentless, and extraordinarily vivid; the last one ends on a plaintive wailing note.

After reading his first novel, This Side of Paradise, and then his collection of short stories which followed, I suspected Scott of being weak in the quality of imagination:-I mean that This Side of Paradise seemed largely autobiographical and the stories, as a whole, were rewritten tales-but the suspicion completely disappeared when I read such bits as the Chevalier O'Keefe fantasy, the training camp episode, both of which appear in his book, and his story, "The Diamond in the Sky,"[24] which comes out in Smart Set.

The chapter headings captivate one with the insouisance of them and their aptitude is to be marveled at. In them is the quality that one likes best in the book: youth sparkling with the joy of life, revelling in pagan beauty, demanding everything and giving in return everything it has despite itself.

I am no prognosticator, but I believe that The Beautiful and Damned, deservedly, will be this season's most successful book.


[0] This Side of Paradise sold about 50,000 copies in 1920-1921, for which Fitzgerald received $11,800. His income was usually exaggerated in the press.

1. White Bear Lake, at Dellwood, Minnesota, where the Fitzgeralds rented a house during summer 1921.

2. Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), Czech composer.

3. During Prohibition so-called bathtub gin was made by adding flavoring to alcohol.

4. Chicago poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967).

5. “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by English poet John Keats (1795-1921) was published in 1820.

6.  Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) wrote strongly rhythmic poems, such as “The Congo” (collected 1914). “The Chinese Nightingale” was collected in 1917.

7. (1889-1977), legendary movie comedian.

8. Ocean liner operated by the Cunard Line.

9.  1852 abolitionist novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896).

10. (1894-1964), prolific writer who became a highly successful dramatist and screenwriter.

11. See Fitzgerald’s 25 September 1921 review of Three Soldiers in this volume.

12. See Fitzgerald’s November 1921 review of Salt in this volume.

13.  The Beautiful and Damned was serialized in Metropolitan Magazine (September 1921-March 1922) before book publication.

14. Joseph Hergesheimer’s 1919 novel.

15. Fitzgerald’s second novel was published in March 1922.

16. Writer (1876-1941) best known for his short-story collection Winesburg, Ohio (1919).

17. From the poem “General William Booth Enters into Heaven” (1913).

[17a] Best-selling American novelists in the early years of the twentieth century.

[17b] American travel writer, author of White Shadows in the South Seas (1919).

[17c] Crane and Marden were American inspirational writers.

[17d] Moore was a major literary figure in the "Irish Renaissance" at the turn of the century.

18. The Vegetable failed during its 1923 try-out in Atlantic City, N.J.

19. Radical critic and editor (1883-1969).

20. Local-color writer (1836-1902), author of “The Luck of Roaring Camp” (1868).

21. In the 1920s it was the custom for men to gamble for their purchases in tobacco shops.

[22] Fannie Hurst was an American sentimental novelist.

[23] The play, which failed during its Atlantic City tryout in November 1923, was not produced by leading Broadway producers William Harris and Charles Frohman but instead by Sam H. Harris.

[24] Fitzgerald retitled his story "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz."

Published in St. Paul Daily News newspaper (5, 12, 19 March 1922, City Life Sections, p. 6).

Not illustrated.