Writers on Fitzgerald
He had one of the rarest qualities in all literature, and it's a great shame that the word for it has been thoroughly debased by the cosmetic racketeers, so that one is almost ashamed to use it to describe a real distinction. Nevertheless, the word is charm charm as Keats would have used it. Who has it today? It's not a matter of pretty writing or clear style. It's a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the sort of thing you get from good string quartettes.
Detective novelist Raymond Chandler on F. Scott Fitzgerald. Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, Ed. Frank MacShane. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981, p. 239. Quoted in Matthew J. Bruccoli, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Second Revised Edition. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002.
Re-read a lot of Scott Fitzgerald's work this week. God, I love that man. Damn fool critics are forever calling writers geniuses for their idiosyncracies [sic] Hemingway for his reticent dialogue, Wolfe for his gargantuan energy, and so on. Fitzgerald's only idiosyncrasy was his pure brilliance. J.D. Salinger, quoted in Richard Anderson, "Gatsby's Long Shadow: Influence and Endurance," New Essays on The Great Gatsby. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. London: Cambridge University Press, p. 31.
Repeatedly he disclaims his role as spokesman and symbol of the Jazz Age, but by reflecting upon it from his chosen distance, he tolls its dreadful excesses in his own life, and so finds its meaning in the body of his wrecked career. There is gallantry in that. We begin to understand our particular affection for this writer. He lacked armor. He did not live in protective seclusion, as Faulkner. He was not carapaced in self-presentation, as Hemingway. He jumped right into the foolish heart of everything, as he had into the Plaza fountain. He was intellectually ambitious but thought fashion was important, gossip,... [continues]
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