SCOTT FITZGERALD: A Life by Andrew Turnbull


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In 1951, one of the best biographies of the decade, Arthur Mizener's The Far Side of Paradise, was published, a brilliant and intensive interpretation of the charmed, disastrous life of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald and his writing which was so closely associated with it. It seems unlikely to be replaced, and, although it is out of print, it is still available in the Vintage edition which the younger generation, to whom Fitzgerald speaks with particular authority, is most likely to buy. It seems unnecessary to repeat the all too familiar facts of Fitzgerald's story here: the legend he lived has almost been written to death. Turnbull has been accurate, but his version is far less inclusive or illuminating. There is however a chapter of minor personal interest; when Fitzgerald was 36, and Andrew Turnbull a child of 11, and Fitzgerald rented the house on the Turnbull property outside of Baltimore and was on very friendly terms with the family. Turnbull also includes, which Mizener deliberately omitted out of discretion, the final Sheila Graham phase which she has since publicized. The most that can be said for Turnbull's book is that is is adequate; it certainly does not convey, which Mizener did supremely well, the divisive nature of the man- the intense romantic and the spoiled priest, as well as the enduring excitement of much that he wrote.

Publisher: Scribner