sexta-feira, 1 de março de 2013

AFTERNOON OF AN AUTHOR A Selection of Uncollected Stories and Essays. By F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A Selection of Uncollected Stories and Essays.
By F. Scott Fitzgerald.

April 27, 1958
The Magic Is Authentic

A Selection of Uncollected Stories and Essays.
By F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The story of F. Scott Fitzgerald is in one sense the story of the moon that never rose. His death in 1940 at the age of 44 cut off what could have been many rich creative years. But it is also the story of the moon that shone very brightly-- though many people thought it was a quick comet only. Even in the Roaring Twenties-- which Fitzgerald helped to quicken into life, epitomizing the Jazz Age in his stories and novels-- people recognized that he wrote attractive, sensitive fiction but wondered whether it was the real thing.
Now we know. After two decades of limbo, in 1951 the greatest revival took place: he is in the anthologies, and in Valhalla. Fitzgerald, by his own admission a most indifferent caretaker of his talent, has now an eager and zealous custodian in the person of Arthur Mizener, who sits at the gates and makes very sure you have a guided tour of the grounds.
Let Mr. Mizener, who wrote the biography "The Far Side of Paradise," tell you his goal in assembling the present fine collection: "I have tried to include in this book only pieces which will serve its main purpose, to show the character of Fitzgerald's fundamental perception. Some are obviously more personal than others, but all derive their energy from some actual experience in which Fitzgerald was deeply involved. This is not so when their superficial details are not literally autobiographical... All were written because these experiences seemed, to Fitzgerald, fabulous."
The fourteen stories and six essays, never before between book covers, fulfill this purpose indeed. These range in time from the autobiographical essay, "Who's Who-- and Why" (1920) to a story, "News of Paris-- Fifteen Years Ago" (1940). Among the essays are "How to Live on Practically Nothing a Year," "How to Live on $36,000 a Year" and a literary piece, partially in praise of Hemingway, "How to Waste Material: A Note on My Generation." There are stories about Fitzgerald's memorable teen-age character, Basil Duke Lee, and about Pat Hobby, the Hollywood writer. And there are part-story, part-essay pieces, such as "Afternoon of an Author" and "Author's House."
The stories are, perhaps, not quite up to the best he ever wrote. The essays are unequal in contemporary interest. But the standard is remarkably high, the authentic magic is here. And the juxtaposition of fiction and fact in the same book brings into sharp focus an essential truth about Fitzgerald: the line in his work between reality and make-believe scarcely exists. Or it is crossed so often it tends to blur, like the frontiers of friendly countries.
As Mr. Mizener has pointed out, both his fact and his fiction stem from direct experience, deeply felt. Wit and imagination play over fact. Acutely observed fact informs and lends reality to fiction. From the three stories about Basil Duke Lee to the wry sketches telling of the miseries of Pat Hobby, the origin of the central character is never in doubt. Both are facets of Fitzgerald. As for the other side of the coin, there is more of the fanciful and fictional in some of the essays than there is in most short stories.
For all his taste and insight, Mr. Mizener, in his short introductory notes to each piece, tends to give Fitzgerald's every word the respectful attention one would give to the remarks of a queen mother. For example, the slightest piece in the book is a lovely bit of nonsensical dialogue called "Ten Years in the Advertising Business." Mr. Mizener's comment is that "a good many of the important criticisms of America's business society are implicit here."
Yet one can be grateful to Mr. Mizener for his part in the rediscovery, and the skill he has shown in making the present selection. And Fitzgerald did have a remarkable consistency. Everything he touched, fiction or fact, nonsense or deeply felt experience, he put his own mark on. The celebrated style, with its grace and high tensile strength, has not since been approximated. Fitzgerald has occasional literary descendents in subject-matter, but none in style. So today, at a time when obscurity, non-grammar and prolixity are becoming a kind of substitute for style, this encore of his own especial music is doubly welcome.
A quote or two suffices: "I went to my regiment happy. I had written a novel. The war could now go on." Here is the authentic blend of irony and involvement.
"Switzerland is a country where few things begin, but many things end." Here is the very quiet, almost Gallic, precision of phrase.
Finally here is a bravura bit, near the end of a Basil Lee story, that has a fresh beauty in it:
"There was a flurry of premature snow in the are and the stars looked cold. Staring up at them he saw that they were his stars as always-- symbols of ambition, struggle and glory. The wind blew through them, trumpeting that high white note for which he always listened."
As a musician does, Fitzgerald himself reached for that high white note. Uncommonly gifted as he was, he found it very often.
Burke Wilkinson, critic and novelist, wrote "Proceed at Will" and "Last Clear Chance." 

Published by The New York Times
Postar um comentário