quinta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2013

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD - FIVE BOOKS







 F. SCOTT  FITZGERALD

FIVE BOOKS


Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON


In accordance to wikipedia, it was firstly published in Colliers Magazine during 1921. It subsequently was anthologized in his book, Tales of the Jazz Age, which occasionally is published as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories.
- Development rights to the story were held for years by the late Hollywood mogul Ray Stark. He retained those rights until his death, when they were purchased from his estate and used for an adaption of the story as the 2008 film of the same name, which was directed by David Fincher.

According to Patrick O’Donnell (from the English department at Michigan State University),  “IN THE TITLE STORY, a baby born in 1860 begins life as an old man and proceeds to age backward. F. Scott Fizgerald hinted at this kind of inversion when he called his era “a generation grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.” Perhaps nowhere in American fiction has this “Lost Generation” been more vividly preserved than in Fitzgerald’s short fiction. Spanning the early twentieth-century American landscape, this original collection captures, with Fitzgerald’s signature blend of enchantment and disillusionment, America during the Jazz Age.”



This Side of Paradise
                                                              With College Men         
By THE NEW YORK TIMES - May 9, 1920
 

     The glorious spirit of abounding youth glows throughout this fascinating tale. Amory, the romantic egotist, is essentially American, and as we follow him through his career at Princeton, with its riotous gayety, its superficial vices, and its punctilious sense of honor which will tolerate nothing less than the standard set up by itself, we know that he is doing just what hundreds of thousands of young men are doing in colleges all over the country. As a picture of the daily existence of what we call loosely "college men," this book is as nearly perfect as such a work could be. The philosophy of Amory, which finds expression in ponderous observations, lightened occasionally by verse that one thinks could have been evolved only in the cloistered atmosphere of his age-old alma mater, is that of any other youth in his teens in whom intellectual ambition is ever seeking an outlet. Amory's love affairs, too, are racy of the soil, while the girls, whose ideas of the modern development of their sex seem to embrace a rather frequent use of the word "Damn," and of being kissed by young men whom they have no thought of marrying, quite obviously belong to Amory's world. Through it all there is the spirit of innocence in so far as actual wrongdoing is implied, and one cannot but feel that the sexes are well matched according to the author's presentment. Amory Blaine has a well-to-do father and a mother who lives the somewhat idle, luxurious life of a matron who has never known the pinch of even economy, much less of poverty, and the boy is the creature of his environment. One knows always that he will be safe at the end. So he is, for he does his bit in the war, finds afterwards that his money has all gone and goes to work writing advertisements for an agency. Also, he has his supreme love affair, with Rosalind Connage, which is broken off because the nervous temperaments of both would not permit happiness. At least, so the girl thinks. So Amory goes on the biggest spree noted in the book-a spree which is colorfully described as taking in everything in the alcoholic line from the Knickerbocker "Old King Cole" bar to an out-of-the-way drinking den where Amory is "beaten up" artistically and thoroughly. The whole story is disconnected, more or less, but loses none of its charm on that account. It could have been written only by an artist who knows how to balance his values, plus a delightful literary style.

Flappers and Philosophers
By THE NEW YORK TIMES - September 26, 1920
 
 
     On the whole, "Flappers and Philosophers" represents the triumph of form over matter, just as, on the whole, Mr. Fitzgerald's novel, "This Side of Paradise," represented the triumph of matter over form. As in his previous book, Mr. Fitzgerald deals with the adolescents of America. But his eight short stories range the gamut of style and mood with a brilliance, a jeu perle, so to speak, which is not to be found in the novel. Therefore, with his first book running to the ranks of best sellers with a seventh edition, there is no telling what good fortune awaits this volume of excellent short stories-a form more to the liking of the American people than the novel.
     It is fortunate that Mr. Fitzgerald begins his "set of eight" with his most romantic story, "The Offshore Pirate," for if the reader safely pulls out of the pirate's reach he can weather the remainder of the book with plain sailing and huge enjoyment. Mr. Fitzgerald realizes the nature of his story, however. He knows what he is about, and his first three words, "This unlikely story," show this plainly.
     Probably the best stories of the octet are "Head and Shoulders," The Cut Glass Bowl," "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and "Benediction." That Mr. Fitzgerald realized this when he flanked them with two others at each end seems more than likely. If a choice may be made between stories so different in character it is to "Benediction," then, that the choice falls. Here, it seems, Mr. Fitzgerald has most finely fused the best of the Russian school which he irradiates, with the O. Henry tinge which may be observed in almost all his stories. "The Cut Glass Bowl" perhaps shows more unity and skill in construction, but at the same time more artifice and less art. "Benediction," for power to move, for real feeling, is easily the first. "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" has the O. Henry whip snap on the end and "Head and Shoulders" displays a reverse twist of which that master can boast no better.
     Not the most superficial reader can fail to recognize Mr. Fitzgerald's talent and genius. So far as seriousness is concerned, no one appreciates the value of the Russian school better than he himself. The ingenuity which marks his works he may consider a necessity in American fiction today. It is the blatant tone of levity which runs through his work that almost drowns out the perception of this literary substance. But its overtones are unmistakable. Mr. Fitzgerald is working out an idiom, and it is an idiom at once universal, American and individual.

THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED By LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD -  March 5, 1922
       It would not be easy to find a more thoroughly depressing book than this new novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Beautiful and Damned." Not because there is something of tragedy in it-tragedy may be and often is fine and inspiring-but because its slow-moving narrative is the record of lives utterly worthless utterly futile. Not one of the book's many characters, important of unimportant, ever rises to the level of ordinary decent humanity. Not one of them shows a spark of loyalty, of honor, of devotion, of generosity, of real friendship or of real affection. Anthony Patch, most important of them all, lacks even physical courage. His one admirable quality is that of "understanding too well to blame," and the reader more than suspects that this refraining from blame is due more to his general laziness, his general inertia, than to anything else. The book traces, at very great length, with much repetition of a not particularly profound subtle psychological analysis and numerous dissertations, the course of his mental, moral and physical disintegration. In the beginning he is merely an idle, extravagant young man, a mental prig and snob, vain of what he regards as his "sophistication," seeing himself as one who "was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the sophistry of courage and yet was brave," realizing clearly and completely "that there was nothing to waste, because all efforts and attainments were equally valueless." His grandfather was a multimillionaire, and he was waiting for his grandfather to die. Such was Anthony Patch at 25, his age when the book begins, when it ends, some six years later, he has become a whining, whisky-soaked semi-imbecile.
     Gloria, the heroine, is beauty-physical beauty-incarnate. Her creed is enjoyment. Completely selfish, she declares: "If I wanted anything, I'd take it... I can't be bothered resisting things I want." Toward the close of the book she wants innumerable cocktails. And she does not resist her desire. She believes implicitly in her beauty and its power; she could endure her husband's degradation; but when she realized that her loveliness had begun to wane, she really suffered. From the time she was 16 she had been admired and embraced by men. Retaining her "technical purity," she offered her lips, not to one or two, but to scores. This she regarded as being brave and independent. Yet she had grace to recognize something at least of her cheapness, the appeal to her of "bright colors and gaudy vulgarity." Without fineness, fastidiousness or good taste, she yet possessed some small amount of endurance, and of courage. She did not, like Anthony, whine as soon as things began to go against them.
     About these two-and naturally enough, since people, like water, seek their own level-move a number of other small-souled individuals. The women most closely associated with Gloria are even cheaper than she is, and though the men who are Anthony's "friends" never quite fall into the abyss of physical degradation which engulfs him, it would be difficult to find anything to say in their favor. The book covers the war years, and Anthony is sent to Camp Hooker, where he occupies himself by getting drunk and picking up a mistress. Patriotism being in Mr. Fitzgerald's view, mere foolishness and hysteria, it is not surprising that he should depict the men Anthony meets in camp as another worthless lot. He is not ill-treated; officers and men are not cruel, but merely stupid and contemptible.
     Most of the scenes are laid either in New York or in the gray house, not far from the Post Road. Anthony and Gloria rented a few months after their marriage. There they entertained acquaintances at week-end parties, with the help of their Japanese servant, Tana; "then the room seemed full of men and smoke. There was Tana in his white coat reeling about supported by Maury... It appeared that everything in the room was staggering in grotesque fourth-dimensional gyrations through intersecting planes of hazy blue." Gloria did have one brief but violent reaction of disgust, but it was quickly over and "parties" of this kind were numerous, both in the country and in the New York apartment, where "there was the odor of tobacco always-both of them smoked incessantly... Added to this was the wretched aura of stale wine, with its inevitable suggestion of beauty gone foul and revelry remembered in disgust... There had been many parties-people broke things; people became sick in Gloria's bathroom; people spilled wine; people made unbelievable messes of the kitchenette." There is a great deal of this sort of thing, though neither Anthony nor Gloria confined their drinking bouts to their own apartment, or to those of their friends.
     So far as its style is concerned, much of the novel is well written, and Anthony's gradual loss of his mental curiosity, his gradual degeneration into "a bleak and sordid wreck" is convincingly depicted, though to the reader he never seems one-third as intelligent as the author apparently thinks him. The long conversations between Anthony and his two friends, Maury Noble and Dick Caramel, are often merely tedious and pretentious, in spite of the fact that now and then one of them does make a remark which is fairly clever. The general atmosphere of the book is an atmosphere of futility, waste and the avoidance of effort, into which the fumes of whisky penetrate more and more, until at last it fairly reeks with them. The novel is full of that kind of pseudo-realism which results from shutting one's eyes to all that is good in human nature, and looking only upon that which is small and mean-a view quite as false as its extreme opposite, which, reversing the process, results in what we have learned to classify as "glad" books. It is to be hoped that Mr. Fitzgerald, who possesses a genuine, undeniable talent, will some day acquire a less one-sided understanding.

TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
                                        By HILDEGARDE HAWTHORNE, October 29, 1922


     We all know delightful hosts who, introducing you to a group at a country house party, will give you, in a sentence or two, some bit of illuminating information with each name. A preface to a book is supposed to perform something of the same office; but Scott Fitzgerald has gone the preface one better, and has added to each title in the table of contents to his new book, "Tales of the Jazz Age," a telling bit of explanation or exposition, as the case may be, a snatch of anecdote or history, a word that makes you feel at home with the story and predisposed in its favor.
     It is an excellent idea and it is done as well as Fitzgerald does anything that has to do with writing, which is very well indeed. Indeed, if ever a writer was born with a gold pen in his mouth, surely Fitzgerald is that man. The more you read him, the more he convinces you that here is the destined artist. Here is the kind of writing that all the short or long story schools and books will never teach to a single student. You may not like what he writes about, you may deplore the fact that most of his characters are rotters or weaklings, base or mean, That has nothing to do with the fact that he is a writer whom it is a joy to read; and if he chooses to write, for the moment anyhow, of the life and the persons with which and whom he is most intimate, if he prefers to paint wit startling vividness and virility the jazz aspect of the American scene, why not? It exists. It is quite as real as Main Street, and a deal more amusing in some of its manifestations. More than that, it is astonishingly sincere and unselfconscious. Fitzgerald is interested in it at present, he knows it, and he is portraying it with talent. Some day he may-but let us wait and see.
     There is plenty of variety in this new collection, more than in the "Flappers and Philosophers," which preceded it. Some of the stories are tragic, like "May Day," which is tragic in a bitter and sordid way, and "The Lees of Happiness," which is tragic after the Greek fashion, because the fates were unkind and the human beings helpless in their grasp.
     One, which Fitzgerald likes the least of all, is tremendously amusing, arrant fooling that it is. It is called "The Camel's Back," and the author hastens to tell us that it is no symbolic camel whose story is to be told, but a real one-or resembling reality, at least. There are other bits of fooling, too, such as "Jemima, the Mountain Girl," a skit on the red-blooded story which begins: "It was night in the mountains of Kentucky. Wild hills rose on all sides. Swift mountain streams flowed rapidly up and down the mountains," and so on. Funny enough, but it is hardly worth while to put such trifles into a book. They give too much the effect of samples, as though the author were saying, "See, here is my lightest side. I do this well and if you want it you can have it; but, on the other hand, here is a piece of my imagination, here one of fantasy, here straight comedy...," a story in each mood and manner, and every one of them god, in fact, but producing on the reader an impression of odds and ends that is unfortunate. The book is more like a magazine than a collection of stories by one man, arranged by an editor to suit all tastes and meant to be thrown away after reading.
     But Fitzgerald when he is good, when he is writing a good story, is much too good for throwing away. His "O Russett Witch" is a beautiful piece of work, where fancy runs hand in hand with perception, and understanding, giving the tale a hint of magic that does not remove it from reality. It is in the group under the heading "Fantasies" with that other story, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz," which is, as Fitzgerald calls it, an extravaganza, but which is also true stuff, life and people living it.
     These stories are announced as beginning in the writer's second manner. They certainly show a development in his art, a new turn. His flapper stories, he says, are finished with. They were the best of their kind, but they could have used only a small part of Fitzgerald's talent. A great deal of him remains untouched as yet, and this "second manner" is surely the outcropping of a rich vein that may hold much wealth.
     The book as it stands is amusing, interesting and well done, but it is filled besides with all sorts of hints, promise and portents that make it exciting beyond its actual content. There are flashes of wings and sounds of trumpets mingled with the tramp of feet and casual laughter, and though it is, as to its performance, a finished thing, each piece polished and fit for showing, yet there is also the effect of a glimpse into a workshop where tools are about and many matters afoot. Assuredly this makes for additional interest. On laying the book down the dominant thought is: "What will this man do next? He's at something, something we want very much to see."



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