sábado, 30 de maio de 2009
THE CRACK UP
By F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Books of The Times
By WILLIAM DU BOIS - July 23, 1945
Scott Fitzgerald has been dead less than five years. Written out for the last decade of his life (save for that wistful failure, "Tender Is the Night"), squandering the last scraps of his ability in Grade B movies and magazines, he was pretty well shelved, so far as the general reading public was concerned, when the obituary notices appeared. If this seems a cruel simplification of a complex literary debacle, the reader is advised to turn to "The Crack Up," a collection of Fitzgerald's unpublished sketches, notebooks, letters and doggerel, which Edmund Wilson has now gathered in book for to "make an autobiographical sequence which vividly puts on record his state of mind and his point of view during the later years of his life." One may well question the vividness of the samples offered; and if a "state of mind" is exhibited here, it seems the sort of mind that is always hovering in the brink of a scream. To the layman most of these fragments will seem only the whitened bones of genius-and, as such, more pathetic than moving. But even the bones of genius are worthy of close study if the genius was real. For all their inanities and juvenile posturings, for all their borrowed melancholy and half-formed wisdom, these notes are a blurred but fascinating blueprint of the development-and the breakdown-of a major literary talent.
The Title Fitzgerald's Own
The Wilson collection takes its title from a bit of self-abasement that Fitzgerald published in Esquire in 1936. But Fitzgerald's crack-up, if one is to judge by this record, was underway long before. Psychiatrists may ponder his failure to win football honors at college, the frustration of his Army career in World War I, the heady virus of a too-quick success in his twenties, the gray struggle to repeat the formula in his thirties, the "resignation" of his forties. The basic fact, of course, is simple-and these pages offer chapter and verse by the score: Fitzgerald was one of those artists who simply lacked the mental equipment to adjust to the demands of maturity. Celebrity or nonentity, it seems obvious that he was doomed to an endless retreat from life as he settled into the "twilight of his thirties"-a limbo to which one callous reviewer had already consigned him in the first flush of his fame.
"The room in the Algonquin was high up amidst the gilded domes of New York," writes Fitzgerald of a visit in 1933. On his attic stair he considers a pair of faded bathing trunks "full of the bright heat of the Mediterranean, bought in the sailors' quarters in Cannes." No writer can be blamed for indulging in such sentimental wallows in his private notebooks-even though a parking lot is now at the Algonquin's doorstep instead of the Hippodrome, even though the Riviera beaches are pock-marked by war. But the whole book is crammed with such yearnings. "Livid, demean, jejune-all misused," says Fitzgerald under the sub-head "Literary" in his notes. All of "The Crack Up" is an endlessly repeated definition of "jejune"-the dry and hungry gasping of a mind empty of new ideas, or even of new attitudes to meet a fast-changing world.
Talent Superb While It Lasted
It is good to turn away from these unhappy pages and remind ourselves that Scott Fitzgerald, at the top of his form, was a major writer-and, within the range of his talent, one of our most rewarding novelists. It is quite true that his cosmos was bounded by a yokel-cum-Princeton snobbery, that his fascination for the green bay tree all but equaled his fear of its poisonous shade, that his homme fatal was always part Byron, part college-esthete, or part ham-whether his name was Amory Blaine or Jay Gatsby or Dr. Diver-or even Monroe Stahr, the movie mogul of that final attempt at a novel, "The Last Tycoon." Most of these were glove-tight self-portraits of the artist, depending on the artist's prevailing mood. They were also shockingly vivid portraits of that frightening romanticism that has kept so many sad young men from growing up since civilization began.
Fitzgerald's early promise was certainly not even remotely fulfilled. But his talent was superb while it lasted. So long as he saw his segment of America clearly, and felt it with all his senses (in "This Side of Paradise," in "The Beautiful and Damned," in "The Great Gatsby"), he could produce a reality more satisfying than life itself-which is the reason why novels are read instead of history books when the reader of tomorrow seeks to recreate an era. This observer will place a reasonable bet in any time capsule that at least one of the three novels just mentioned (along with "The Sun Also Rises" and "Appointment in Samarra") will be devoured by the youth of a better century than our own-when the gaudy milieux that made these books possible seem as remote as the reign of Caligula.
DU BOIS , WILLIAM. Books of The Times. The New York Times - July 23, 1945
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 05:48