SCOTT FITZGERALD: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers


Email this review


This easygoing, academically voiced bio of F. Scott Fitzgerald calls itself the first ""full-scale contemporary"" life since Turnbull's in 1962. Approvingly quoting Jay McInerney, Meyers dismisses lives by Bruccoli (""hagiographic""), Mellow (""peevish, sordid""), and Donaldson (""folksy psychoanalysis""), as well as Nancy Mitford's Zelda (""feminist revisionist""). Meyers, who has written biographies of Lawrence (1990), Conrad (1991), and Poe (1992), calls his own foray into Fitzgerald ""analytic and interpretive"" and claims to be hunting for psychological patterns in the writer's life (1896-1940). In addition to examining Fitzgerald's professional and personal relationships with literary and Hollywood figures like Donald Ogden Stewart, Edmund Wilson, Hemingway, and Irving Thalberg, Meyers peers into the private, personal lives of Scott and Zelda, zealously following the former's drinking career and the latter's encounters with various hospitals and doctors. Among the oddities he spies are Fitzgerald's bizarre foot phobia (he said that his naked feet filled him with ""embarrassment and horror""). Meyers does indulge in some obvious, dime-store psychoanalysis, asserting that the deaths of Fitzgerald's two older sisters, aged one and three, while his mother was pregnant with him, and of a younger sibling who lived for only one hour, not only doomed Fitzgerald to an overprotected and delicate childhood but also saddled him with survivor's guilt. Meyers asserts that Scott encouraged Zelda's escapades as subject matter for his writing, that much of their outrageous behavior was meant to keep themselves in the public eye and to sell books. He goes more deeply here into the Hemingway/Fitzgerald friendship than in his Hemingway (1985) and thinks the famous penis-measuring episode in Hemingway's A Moveable Feast highly suspect. Factually rich, if uninspired.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1994
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: HarperCollins