sexta-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2013
THE LAST TYCOON , An Unfinished Novel. By F. Scott Fitzgerald Scott Fitzgerald's Last Novel By J. DONALD ADAM - November 9, 1941
THE LAST TYCOON , An Unfinished Novel. By F. Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald's Last Novel
It is a heavy loss to American literature that Scott Fitzgerald died in his forties. Of that fact this volume which Edmund Wilson has edited is convincing proof. When "Tender Is the Night" was published a few years ago there was reason to doubt whether the fine talent which had first fully realized itself in "The Great Gatsby" eight years before would develop sufficiently to arrive at the greater achievements of which it was capable. "Tender Is the Night" was an ambitious book, but it was also a brilliant failure. Coming after so long a lapse in Fitzgerald's serious writing, the disappointment it brought to those who had felt in "The Great Gatsby" the hand of a major novelist was keen.
So, too, is "The Last Tycoon" an ambitious book, but, uncompleted though it is, one would be blind indeed not to see that it would have been Fitzgerald's best novel and a very fine one. Even in this truncated form it not only makes absorbing reading; it is the best piece of creative writing that we have about one phase of American life-Hollywood and the movies. Both in the unfinished draft and in the sheaf of Fitzgerald's notes which Mr. Wilson has appended to the story it is plainly to be seen how firm was his grasp of his material, how much he had deepened and grown as an observer of life. His sudden death, we see now, was as tragic as that of Thomas Wolfe.
Of all our novelists, Fitzgerald was by reason of his temperament and his gifts the best fitted to explore and reveal the inner world of the movies and of the men who make them. The subject needs a romantic realist, which Fitzgerald was; it requires a lively sense of the fantastic, which he had; it demands the kind of intuitive perceptions which were his in abundance. He had lived and worked in Hollywood long enough before he died to write from the inside out; the material was clay in his hands to be shaped at will. One comes to the end of what he had written-something less than half the projected work-with profound regret that he did not live to complete the job.
As Mr. Wilson observes in his all too brief forward, Monroe Stahr, the movie big shot about whom the story is centered, is Fitzgerald's most fully conceived character. "Amory Blaine and Antony Patch ['This Side of Paradise' and 'The Beautiful and Damned'] were romantic projections of the author; Gatsby and Dick Diver were conceived more or less objectively, but not very profoundly explored. Monroe Stahr is really crafted from within at the same time that he is criticized by an intelligence that has now become sure of itself and knows how to assign him to his proper place in a large scheme of things."
We have about 60,000 words of the novel in this uncompleted draft; it was originally planned to be of approximately that length, but, as the appended outline shows, the chapter on which he was working the day before his death brings the story little more than halfway to its conclusion. Yet within these half dozen chapters, running to 128 pages, Fitzgerald has created a memorable figure in Stahr, Hollywood's "last tycoon"; he had marvelously conveyed the atmosphere in which a mammoth American industry is conducted; he would have ended, we can see, by bringing it clearly into focus as a world of its own within the larger pattern of American life as a whole.
As Mr. Wilsion reminds us, the main activities of the people in Fitzgerald's early books "are big parties at which they go off like fireworks and which are likely to leave them in pieces." It is indicative of the broader scope of "The Last Tycoon" and of Fitzgerald's wider and deeper intentions that the parties in this book are "incidental and unimportant." Excellent as "The Great Gatsby" was, capturing as it did in greater degree than any other book of the period the feel of the fantastic Twenties, one closes it with the thought that Fitzgerald had not himself quite gotten outside the period. There is a detachment about his handling of "The Last Tycoon" that he could not fully achieve in "The Great Gatsby." This is the more emphasized by the skillful technique employed in the telling of his story. The narrator is the daughter of a big producer, an intelligent girl, of the world of the movies, yet not in it as an active participant, who looks back on the events she describes after a lapse of several years.
The book as Mr. Wilson has edited it has a dual interest. There is the intrinsic interest of the story as we have it, written with all the brilliance of which Fitzgerald was capable; and there is besides, for those who give thought to literary craftsmanship, the pleasure of watching his mind at work on the difficult task he had set himself. In this respect the notes which follow the draft are fascinating reading.
Besides "The Last Tycoon," the volume includes "The Great Gatsby and several of Fitzgerald's best short stories. There is "May Day," a kaleidoscopic picture of New York when the boys were coming back from the last war; that strange fantasy which out-Hollywoods Hollywood, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"; "The Rich Boy," an early story, but good enough to stand with his mature work; "Absolution" and "Crazy Sunday."
In the chapter on "The James Branch Cabell Period" which he contributed to "After the Genteel Tradition," Peter Monro Jack observed that Fitzgerald's titles were the best in fiction. No one, certainly, has more good ones to his credit: "This Side of Paradise," "The Beautiful and Damned," "All the Sad Young Men" in particular. Mr. Jack also remarked in that excellent essay that Fitzgerald was badly served by his contemporaries, maintaining that "Had his extraordinary gifts met with an early astringent criticism and a decisive set of values, he might very well have been the Proust of his generation instead of the desperate sort of Punch that he is." The lack of these no doubt delayed his development, but it is clear now that his feet were set on a forward path.
From the beginning Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the things and the people that he knew. His early material was trivial, and like the youngsters of whom he wrote, he was himself rudderless, borne swiftly along on a stream that empties into nothingness. But from the outset his perceptions were keen, his feeling for words innate, his imagination quick and strong. There was vitality in every line he wrote. But he had to get his own values straight before he could properly do the work for which he was fitted, and the process took heavy toll of his vitality.
Fitzgerald's career is a tragic story, but the end is better than it might have been. And I think he will be remembered in his generation.
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 09:53