F. SCOTT FITZGERALD by Henry Dan Piper


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Does anyone possess Scott Fitzgerald's laundry lists, and if so when will they be published? In the last decade or so, we have had two ""definitive"" biographies, a fictional one (The Disenchanted), later turned into a play, plus a volume of left over essays, a very recent volume of apprentice fiction (1909-1917), a collection of his letters, something called Heloved Infidel, and at regular intervals, ""re-evaluations,"" ranging from little magazine stuff to coverage in Life. Now, huffing and puffing down the Fitzgerald expressway, comes Professor Piper's ""critical portrait."" The same old cargo? Yes, but with a difference. The professor's exhaustive chronological exploration of the novels and stories, concentrates on Fitzgerald the artist, rather than the man or legend. Still, the romantic apparatus is very much in view: the Jazz Age darling who ended up a Hollywood hack, the young Princetonian who loved, sought to live, and eventually despaired of that American dream of good looks, charm and wealth, and who, alas, learned everything the hard way. As he said in one of his letters: ""It is from the failures of life, and not its successes, that we learn most."" Professor Piper offers three strong, sometimes brilliant, chapters devoted to Gatsby, an interesting juxtaopposition of Tender is the Night with Zelda's Save Me the Waltz, and a fairly penetrating approach to The Last Tycoon. The rest is middling. Even so, for the Fitzgerald fans, another must book.

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston