In a note to Fitzgerald, Hemingway shows he was better at being aggressive than passive-aggressive.
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“Hemingway once sent F. Scott Fitzgerald a typescript of A Farewell to Arms. Fitzgerald sent back ten pages of edits and comments, signing off with “A beautiful book it is!” You can see Hemingway’s first reaction above (signed EH). In later drafts, it seems, he took some of Fitzgerald’s advice to heart.”
“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.
That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it… High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl…
In 1917, as the war in Europe was slowly drawing in the United States, a student dropped out of Princeton University because he was more interested in writing than grades. That young man was F. Scott Fitzgerald. He signed up for the Army and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, ending up with the 67th Infantry at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, where he joined in for these group portraits in October 1918. The Great War ended before he could ship out, but his time in Alabama proved eventful when he met a southern belle by the name of Zelda Sayre, the youngest daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. Their love would be a guiding force in Fitzgerald’s glorious and tragic life.
We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by the French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze flew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
“Being in love, she concluded, is simply the presentation of our pasts to another individual, mostly packages so unwieldy that we can no longer manage the loosened strings alone. Looking for love is like asking for a new point of departure, she thought, another chance in life.”
- Save Me The Waltz, Zelda Fitzgerald
F Scott Fitzgerald at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club
In the Autumn of 1923 Zelda was interviewed by a reporter from the Baltimore Sun. The public, he had told her, wanted to know if she was the heroine of Scott’s books. When the reporter arrived he found Zelda sitting far back in the plastic overstuffed chair in the living room of their Great Neck house. She told him this was her first interview and then called Scott to come help her. The reporter described Scott as he came into the room as tall, blond, and broad-shouldered, towering over his petite wife. They began to speak about three short stories that Zelda was writing. She said there were no typewriters in their house, for they both wrote their drafts in longhand. “I like to write. Do you know, I thought my husband should write a perfectly good ending to one of the tales, and he wouldn’t! He called them ‘lop-sided’ too! Said that they began at the end.” Then she interrupted herself to talk about Scott’s writing; her favorite short story of his was “The Offshore Pirate.” “I love Scott’s books and heroines. I like the ones that are like me! That’s why I love Rosalind in This Side of Paradise. You see, I always read everything he writes. It spoils the fun, the surprise, I mean, a bit….But Rosalind! I like girls like that….I like their courage, their recklessness, and spendthriftness. Rosalind was the original American flapper.”
At this point in the interview Scott explained that Zelda’s youth was spent going to proms and living in Montgomery. “That’s a mighty long way from New York,” he added. The reporter asked him to describe his wife. “She is the most charming person in the world.” And, after receiving Zelda’s thanks, he continued: “That’s all. I refuse to amplify. Excepting - she’s perfect.”
Zelda said, “But you don’t think that….You think I’m a lazy woman.”
“No, I like it. I think you’re perfect. You’re always ready to listen to my manuscript, at any hour of the day or night. You’re charming — beautiful. You do, I believe, clean the ice-box once a week.”
‘New York, 1922. The tempo of the city had changed sharply. The buildings were higher. The parties were bigger. The morals were looser and the liquor was cheaper. The restlessness, approached hysteria.’ - The Great Gatsby (2013)