bookscene at gmail.com
Mon Dec 29 13:01:07 EST 2008
Am enjoying the great posts by Roger Lathbury.
Obviously, we are only speculating from a distance, so don't take any of
this too seriously.
I once knew a girl who developed into an extreme alcoholic, and was in and
out of institutions. I learned very quickly not to send valuable things,
fine things, things of sentimental value. They come out of those places with
no consciousness of anything. Best to send cheap books and cigarettes.
On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 10:58 PM, Roger Lathbury <lathbury at gmu.edu> wrote:
> 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
> 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.
> If I were a writer of such merit and had great love for my wife, I should
> not present her a 95 cent reprint but rather a fine first edition of said
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