sábado, 16 de fevereiro de 2013


A Selection of Twenty-Eight Stories with an Introduction by Malcolm Cowley.  
By F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Between Classics
March 4, 1951

A Selection of Twenty-Eight Stories with an Introduction by Malcolm Cowley.
By F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It must have been in 1921 that we first read "This Side of Paradise" and very shortly after reread it and every few years read it anew. The book was impressive not only because it was the accomplished first effort of a very young man but because he had given us the complete picture of his generation, a surprisingly new and different generation and to many of us it remains the definitive portrait and continues to surprise us. Is not this surprise one of the proofs of its being a work of art? Then for us there was a considerable silence from the young author. We saw none of the short stories in the magazines until one day "The Great Gatsby" flashed upon us. The promise of the first novel of the so greatly gifted young writer was fulfilled.
Now there is the volume of collected short stories with an appreciative, therefore sympathetic and perceptive introduction by Malcolm Cowley. To read these stories now is indeed a melancholy pleasure, for Fitzgerald has become a legend and the epoch he created is history. The young writer, still unknown today, who will succeed him will follow as Fitzgerald did in the tradition of American literature, however surprising the direction and means taken to express the vision of the new troubled generation.
Wars do speed up time and tempo, and these short stories would seem to be convincing evidence of this, both in the writing and in the subject matter. If the young people, and Fitzgerald liked them young, were troubled, and he liked them to be so, they were not made unhappy by too many different reasons. It is a slight reproach one can make against these stories, but one must gratefully acknowledge the variety of examples chosen from the limited range offered by normal middle-class youth.
Fitzgerald himself could not easily accept the passing of his own youth. He has asked if he could come to see us on a certain afternoon in 1926. He was my favorite among the young American writers whom we knew. His intelligence, sensibility, distinction, wit and charm made his contemporaries appear commonplace and lifeless. He sat with his medallic head in profile talking quietly. Suddenly he said with passionate energy, "Today is my birthday, I am 30 years old today. Thirty years old. Youth is over. What am I to do? What can I do? What does one do when one is 30 years old and when one's youth is over?" he asked Gertrude Stein.
"One goes on working," she said. "Go home and write a novel, the novel that is in you to write. That is what you will do now that you are 30 years old." Later when "Tender Is the night" was written and published and Fitzgerald sent her a copy she was touched to find that he had written on the flyleaf "Is this the novel you asked for?" And she said it was abundantly.
The last time we saw him was in Baltimore in 1934. We spent a long afternoon with him in his home where he and his young daughter were living then. It was the afternoon of Dec. 24 and Fitzgerald told us that they were expecting Mrs. Fitzgerald later in the afternoon. She was to come from the nursing home to spend Christmas with them. The doctors hoped that this visit might aid the cure.
Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein talked about his work and we told him about our visit to the United States. He was restless, ordered tea early and had Scottie, his young daughter, sent for. "Have a canape," he said, "they were especially made for you, like those we used to have in Paris, made especially for you both, and 'Tender Is the Night' for Zelda." Always now I remember him as he was at that moment, poignant, disturbing and ineffably beautiful.
We stayed on to see Mrs. Fitzgerald. It was late when she came suddenly, noiselessly and rapidly into the room. She was no longer the vigorous, smart young woman we had known in Paris. Now she was thin, eerie and fey. Fitzgerald unfolded the drawings and paintings she had been encouraged to make, now that she was no longer allowed or able to dance. They were both pleased when Gertrude Stein said that she thought her work interesting and quite well worth while continuing.
This encouragement brought forth from Zelda a hesitant but not shy, "Would you choose the one you prefer? I would like you to have it. Then you will not forget us." That was the last time we were to meet either of them.
Miss Toklas met Fitzgerald and other writers of his generation in her capacity as companion-secretary to Gertrude Stein in Paris. Her association with Miss Stein is commemorated in "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas."
"In One Jump or Three"
He [Fitzgerald] devoted less care to his stories than to his novels, since he regarded himself as a novelist primarily. "Stories are best written in either one jump or three, according to the length," he told his daughter. "The three-jump story should be written on three successive days, than a day or so for revise and off she goes."...Writing stories pain him better than any other literary work. In 1929, for example, he earned $27,000 by his stories... They are like the sketches of a gifted artist, sharp and immediate in their perceptions, so that they bring us face to face with the artist's world.
-- From Malcolm Cowley's Introduction to "The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald."
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