[ModLib] More

Roger Lathbury lathbury at gmu.edu
Sun Dec 28 22:58:32 EST 2008


Dear Joseph Hill:

Well, yes, that seems reasonable in 2008 but it is not so for 1934.

1. The point of the Modern Library edition for its author was both to make money  and more importantly to keep Fitzgerald's sense of himself as a writer alive. He already had begun to fear he was washed up. His alcoholism was very serious: 32 beers in one day when he "wasn't drinking" (Fitzgerald thought beer didn't count.)

The reissue of _The Great Gatsby_ was a way of proving his endurance to himself. It was by no means clear in 1934 that _The Great Gatsby_ was a classic or would even be remembered. Look at the way the novel was treated in his _New York Times_ obituary in December 1940 ("it was not a book for all time but perfectly captured the period").

2. Fitzgerald was no longer in love with Zelda in the same way as he was in 1920. He couldn't be. She was not the same Zelda. He had suspected she was having an affair or was close to it while he was writing _Gatsby_ (with Edouard Jozan)--thus the dedication "once again to Zelda." Fitzgerald by 1934 had already had affairs with Bijou O'Connor (1930-1) and possibly other women, just as in 1935 he would form a liaison with Beatrice Dance. Zelda's fear that he was sleeping with Lois Moran (b. 1909) is reflected, somewhat guiltily, in Dick Diver's affair with Rosemary Hoyt in _Tender is the Night._ 

In 1935, according to Anthony Buttita, Fitzgerald had hired a prostitute; however, it is unclear how reliable a witness Buttita is. The O'Connor and Dance affairs are incontestable.

3. Moreover, at this point Fitzgerald was entirely centered on _Tender is the Night._ He didn't keep copies of _Gatsby_ lying around.

Again, this doesn't seem to me conclusive one way or the other. If he gave Zelda a copy of the Modern Library _Gatsby_ it would have been as a casual thing. _Tender is the Night_ was where his hopes and heart lay in 1934.

Cheers.


Roger
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