Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, 36, knows that he has to be really upbeat and optimistic.
He has received a letter from his star author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, whose second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, will be serialized in Metropolitan magazine next month. Scribner’s predicts it will be as big a hit as his first book, published last year, This Side of Paradise.
Fitzgerald is back home in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he and his wife, Zelda, 21, have moved to await the birth of their first child.
626 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota, which the Fitzgeralds rented
With the royalties from Paradise, the Fitzgeralds sailed to Europe earlier this year, but the trip was pretty disastrous as Zelda was sick the whole time.
Thanks to Perkins, they did meet with one of Scribner’s older stars, English novelist John Galsworthy, 54, when they were in London. Perkins had written to Galsworthy that their meeting “may turn out to have done [Fitzgerald] a great deal of good, for he needs steering.”
Now Perkins is worried about the latest letter from Scott. He says that he has had a “hell of a time” trying to write again.
Loafing puts me in this particular obnoxious and abominable gloom. My third novel, if I ever write another, will I am sure be black as death with gloom…I should like to sit down with half dozen chosen companions and drink myself to death but I am sick alike of life, liquor and literature. If it wasn’t for Zelda I think I’d disappear out of sight for three years. Ship as a sailor or something & get hard—I’m sick of the flabby semi-intellectual softness in which I flounder with my generation.”
Max puts as much enthusiasm as he can into his reply:
Everybody that practices the last [literature] is at uncertain intervals weary of the first [life], but that is the very time they are likely to take strongly to the second [liquor].”
Perkins also extols the benefits of being in the St. Paul weather because Scott will want to stay inside and write most of the time.
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available in both print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.