The Crack-up

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New Directions Publishing, 1993 - Literary Collections - 347 pages
"The Crack-Up" was first published by New Directions in 1945 and is now being rediscovered by a new generation of readers. Compiled and edited by Edmund Wilson shortly after Fitzgerald's death, "The Crack-Up" tells the story of Fitzgerald's sudden descent at age thirty-nine from a life of success and glamor to one of emptiness and despair, and his determined recovery. This vigorous and revealing collection of essays and letters renders the tale of a man whose personality still charms us all and whose reckless gaiety and genious made him a living symbol and the Jazz Age. For those who grew up with "The Great Gatsby" or "Tender is the Night," this extraordinary autobiographical collection provides a unique personal blend of the romance and reality embodied by Fitzgerald's literature and his life.
 

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Contents

EcHoes of THE Jazz AGE page
13
RING
34
AUCTION MoDEL 1934
56
THE CRACKUP
69
EARLY SUCCEss
85
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

F(rancis) Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896. He was educated at Princeton University and served in the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1919, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. In 1920 Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre, a young woman of the upper class, and they had a daughter, Frances. Fitzgerald is regarded as one of the finest American writers of the 20th Century. His most notable work was the novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). The novel focused on the themes of the Roaring Twenties and of the loss of innocence and ethics among the nouveau riche. He also made many contributions to American literature in the form of short stories, plays, poetry, music, and letters. Ernest Hemingway, who was greatly influenced by Fitzgerald's short stories, wrote that Fitzgerald's talent was "as fine as the dust on a butterfly's wing." Yet during his lifetime Fitzgerald never had a bestselling novel and, toward the end of his life, he worked sporadically as a screenwriter at motion picture studios in Los Angeles. There he contributed to scripts for such popular films as Winter Carnival and Gone with the Wind. Fitzgerald's work is inseparable from the Roaring 20s. Berenice Bobs Her Hair and A Diamond As Big As The Ritz, are two short stories included in his collections, Tales of the Jazz Age and Flappers and Philosophers. His first novel The Beautiful and Damned was flawed but set up Fitzgerald's major themes of the fleeting nature of youthfulness and innocence, unattainable love, and middle-class aspiration for wealth and respectability, derived from his own courtship of Zelda. This Side of Paradise (1920) was Fitzgerald's first unqualified success. Tender Is the Night, a mature look at the excesses of the exuberant 20s, was published in 1934. Much of Fitzgerald's work has been adapted for film, including Tender is the Night , The Great Gatsby, and Babylon Revisited which was adapted as The Last Time I Saw Paris by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1954. The Last Tycoon, adapted by Paramount in 1976, was a work in progress when Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, California. Fitzgerald is buried in the historic St. Mary's Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland.

Wilson roamed the world and read widely in many languages. He was a journalist for leading literary periodicals: Vanity Fair, where he was briefly managing editor; The New Republic, where he was associate editor for five years; and the New Yorker, where he was book reviewer in the 1940s. These varied experiences were typical of Wilson's range of interests and ability. Eternally productive and endlessly readable, he conquered American literature in countless essays. If he is idiosyncratic and lacks a rigid mold, that probably contributes to his success as a literary critic, since he was not committed to interpretation in the straitjacket of some popular approach or dogma. His critical position suits his cosmopolitan background---historical and sociological considerations prevail. He went through a brief Marxist period and experimented with Freudian criticism. Axel's Castle (1931), a penetrating analysis of the symbolist writer, has exerted a great influence on contemporary literary criticism. Its dedication, to Christian Gauss of Princeton, reads:"It was principally from you that I acquired.. .my idea of what literary criticism ought to be---a history of man's ideas and imaginings in the setting of the conditions which have shaped them."His volume of satiric short stories, Memoirs of Hecate County (1946), with its frankly erotic passages, was the subject of court cases in a less tolerant decade than the present one. It was Wilson's own favorite among his writings, but he complained that those individuals who like his other work tend to disregard it.

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