A Life in Letters
A New Collection Edited and Annotated by Matthew J. Bruccoli
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Scribner, Paperback, 9780684801537, 528pp.)
Publication Date: May 3, 1995
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A vibrant self-portrait of an artist whose work was his life.
In this new collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's letters, edited by leading Fitzgerald scholar and biographer Matthew J. Bruccoli, we see through his own words the artistic and emotional maturation of one of America's most enduring and elegant authors. A Life in Letters is the most comprehensive volume of Fitzgerald's letters -- many of them appearing in print for the first time. The fullness of the selection and the chronological arrangement make this collection the closest thing to an autobiography that Fitzgerald ever wrote.
While many readers are familiar with Fitzgerald's legendary "jazz age" social life and his friendships with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Edmund Wilson, and other famous authors, few are aware of his writings about his life and his views on writing. Letters to his editor Maxwell Perkins illustrate the development of Fitzgerald's literary sensibility; those to his friend and competitor Ernest Hemingway reveal their difficult relationship. The most poignant letters here were written to his wife, Zelda, from the time of their courtship in Montgomery, Alabama, during World War I to her extended convalescence in a sanatorium near Asheville, North Carolina. Fitzgerald is by turns affectionate and proud in his letters to his daughter, Scottie, at college in the East while he was struggling in Hollywood.
For readers who think primarily of Fitzgerald as a hard-drinking playboy for whom writing was effortless, these letters show his serious, painstaking concerns with creating realistic, durable art.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896, attended Princeton University, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and the couple divided their time among New York, Paris, and the Riviera, becoming a part of the American expatriate circle that included Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos. Fitzgerald was a major new literary voice, and his masterpieces include The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of forty-four, while working on The Love of the Last Tycoon. For his sharp social insight and breathtaking lyricism, Fitzgerald is known as one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.
A Life in Letters is the closest thing to an F. Scott Fitzgerald autobiography, which is much to be cherished.
J.T. Barbarese Philadelphia Inquirer The letters reveal a powerful and unsparing literary intelligence...extraordinary.