F. Scott Fitzgerald, 25, hopes that his recently launched second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, will do at least as well as his first, This Side of Paradise, published two years ago.
Of course this one is based on his relationship with Zelda Sayre, 21, their romance, their marriage. After all, look at the picture on the cover…
The Beautiful and Damned
But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “blubberingly sentimental” as one early reviewer called it.
Fitzgerald still owes his publisher, Scribner’s, almost $6,000, but early sales seem to be going well. He just wasn’t prepared for the hostility of some of the critics who had praised him last time.
Scott and Zelda have come to New York for the launch party—well, parties, actually—leaving their four-month-old daughter. Scottie, with Fitzgerald’s parents back in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they have been living for the past year or so.
Scott is excited to be back in Manhattan, but Zelda seems out of sorts.
Fitzgerald’s classmate from Princeton, critic Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 26, was quite impressed with The Beautiful and Damned when Scott asked him to read it in manuscript. But now he is a bit disappointed with the finished product. Who cares about the newlyweds’ fights back in Westport, Connecticut, last summer?
When they first arrived back in New York City, Wilson was pleased to see Scott and Zelda again. But it has become clear that there is a lot of tension between the two. Motherhood has robbed Zelda, the original “flapper,” of a lot of her jazz. Wilson thinks she’s looking matronly, and, frankly, fat.
Zelda is pissed off. It’s not just that she doesn’t want to be pregnant again. Scott is totally indifferent to their first child—what will he be like with a second? She’s solving that problem with a pill some New York friends have given her.
She’s also angry about the way her husband has portrayed her in this new novel. Spoiled brat. Selfish bitch. And to top it off, he has stolen some of her writing. Zelda used to enjoy playing the role of muse. But this time Scott has used her diaries and letters word for word—there are three pages in the novel labeled “The Diary.” It’s her diary!
Zelda knows one thing for sure. She’s not going to have this baby.
On the train from New Haven, Connecticut, into Manhattan, New York City’s top columnist, FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams], 40, of the World newspaper, is reading his review copy of The Beautiful and Damned. He falls asleep.
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after the Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.