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"There is one other point: in giving deliberately Gatsby's biography when he gives it to the narrator you do depart from the method of the narrative in some degree . I thought you might find ways to let the truth of some of his claims like 'Oxford' and his army career come out bit by bit in the course of the actual narrative."
-Maxwell Perkins, from a letter to Fitzgerald dated 20 November 1924
Fitzgerald did his best writing in revision. Prompted by this offhand advice from Maxwell Perkins, his editor at Scribners, Fitzgerald rewrote much of The Great Gatsby in the galley proofs, giving it its structural distinction and making it the masterpiece of literature that it is today.
submitted by: Michael Cody
"But when in a freak moment you will want to give the low-down, not the scandal, not the merely reported but the profound essence of what happened at a prom or after it, perhaps that honesty will come to you--and then you will understand how it is possible to make even a forlorn Laplander feel the importance of a trip to Cartier's!"
-The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald. ed. Andrew Turnbull. New York: Scribners, 1963. pg. 101.
This quote from an undated fragment of a letter to Fitzgerald's daughter, in which he offers advice about her developing prose style, reflects a key characteristic of Fitzgerald's own writing. He was able to create for his readers the atmosphere of a particular time and place.
submitted by: Tracy Bitonti
"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."
-"The Swimmers," The Saturday Evening Post (19 October 1929)
In the late 1920s Fitzgerald wrote most of his fiction for American markets while living in Europe. Although he was grouped with the expatriate community (which included Ernest Hemingway), his fiction always retained the traditional American themes of aspiration, success and imaginative individualism.
submitted by: Park Bucker
"All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase -- I love you."
-"The Off-Shore Pirate," The Saturday Evening Post (29 May 1920)
The line is delivered by Ardita, the heroine of one of his early romantic comedies. When asked to explain it she responds, "It doesn't mean anything especially. It's just clever." The women in Fitzgerald's magazine fiction were often called "flappers," due to their wit and vitality. Yet they were never trivial or vapid, but rather demonstrated cold calculation and steely determination in their pursuit of a worthy mate.
submitted by: Park Bucker
"Books are like brothers. I am an only child. Gatsby my imaginary brother, Amory my younger, Anthony my worry. Dick my comparatively good brother but all of them far from home. When I have the courage to put the old white light on the home of my heart, then--"
-The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: Harcourt, 1978.
Fitzgerald's notebook entry refers to the protagonists of his four novels published during his lifetime: This side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night.
submitted by: Mary Sidney Watson
This page updated 28 January 1997.
Copyright 1997, the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.