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A life in letters /

Main Author: Fitzgerald, F. Scott 1896-1940.
Other Authors: Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph, 1931-, Baughman, Judith.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Toronto : New York : Scribner's ; 1994
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Review by Choice Review

Bruccoli, a noted Fitzgerald bibliographer, editor, and biographer, describes this gathering for general readers as "the best of the collected and unpublished Fitzgerald letters." With Baughman's assistance, Bruccoli grouped the highly autobiographical selections into five chronological divisions, ranging from 1907 to 1940, to provide "a life in letters." Contexts are efficiently supplied by an introductory four-page biography, detailed chronologies preceding each division, succinct footnotes, and biographical notes on some recurring figures in the letters, such as Fitzgerald's Princeton roommate John Biggs Jr. and Harold Ober, his agent. The letters are exact transcriptions (revealing Fitzgerald's weakness at spelling); Broccoli and Baughman identify archival locations and describe page length and medium of each letter (handwritten, typed, or carbon). A very attractive feature is the facsimile reproduction of many letters, book inscriptions, telegrams, postcards, and even a few sketches. Another plus is the unusually thorough index. More dramatically than any biography, Bruccoli and Baughman's volume brings to life the artistic goals and the personal struggles of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. An essential book for every Fitzgerald collection. General and academic audiences. J. W. Hall; University of Mississippi

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

There's a bit of a Fitzgerald resurgence going on what with Jeffrey Meyers' excellent new biography [BKL Ap 1 94], and now this, the first collection of Fitzgerald's letters to be published in 30 years. Bruccoli is a productive and enthusiastic Fitzgerald maven, having edited collections of Fitzgerald's poems and stories as well as critical literature and a collection of Zelda Fitzgerald's writings before putting together this utterly fascinating volume. Fitzgerald was a profoundly literary man who wrote remarkably forceful and revealing letters. He's sly and charming, blunt and cocky, insecure and ambitious, and capable of a bone-chilling objectivity about everyone, even those closest to him. Naturally, the most compelling letters analyze his catastrophic marriage. Zelda's severe mental illness placed a tremendous emotional, financial, spiritual, and artistic burden on Fitzgerald, and his letters to various psychiatrists and friends disclose just how tangled up he and Zelda were and how much it impacted his writing. His stern yet concerned letters to his daughter, Scottie, are also of great interest. On the more professional front are Fitzgerald's detailed letters to Maxwell Perkins, Edmund Wilson, John O'Hara, and Ernest Hemingway. In all, this is a powerful form of autobiography. ~--Donna Seaman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Organized chronologically, this correspondence--edited by eminent Fitzgerald scholar Bruccoli and freelance writer, Baughman--offers an accessible self-portrait of the writer (1896-1940). Early letters to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, and friends, Edmund Wilson and Ernest Hemingway, document Fitzgerald's devotion to craft, exemplified by The Great Gatsby (1925), as well as the novelist's ever-present financial problems, which kept him churning out short stories for the magazine market. Letters to his wife, Zelda--when she was hospitalized for mental illness--detail the destruction of their marriage. Fitzgerald felt it was caused by Zelda's problems, while she blamed Fitzgerald's alcoholism (a letter giving her version is included). A bitter letter Fitzgerald wrote to their daughter, Scottie, accuses Zelda of wrecking his health and talent. Despite his lack of perspective and his difficult life, Fitzgerald comes across, unsurprisingly, as warm, witty and effervescent. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

With a series of definitive editions of his novels currently in production and the recent release of a major biography (Scott Fitzgerald, LJ 4/1/94), the Fitzgerald renaissance is on. Although collections of Fitzgerald's letters have appeared before, the intent of this assemblage is to unfurl Scott's life through his private words. To that end, these missives, which range from brief telegrams to lengthy gospels, are divided into five sections by years and major episodes in Scott's life, e.g., ``Europe, The Great Gatsby: 1924-1930.'' Also included throughout are facsimiles of several of the originals. The surprisingly pleasant tone of the letters belie all the horrors Fitzgerald had stored up in his ghostly heart, including the alcoholism and madness lurking backstage. Essential reading for a full understanding of Fitzgerald as an artist and a man, this collection should be purchased by serious American literature collections.-Michael Rogers, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A smart selection from Fitzgerald's voluminous correspondence, tactfully annotated and chronologically arranged by Bruccoli (English/Univ. of South Carolina), who has collected and edited all of Fitzgerald's writings in over 20 volumes. Bruccoli provides a brief biography, subtle footnotes, and detailed chronologies at the beginning of each section, but Fitzgerald here speaks for himself and the familiar story takes on the ironies, texture, poignancy, and passion that often elude biographers. Fitzgerald appears in all his complexity, yet without much introspection. He had little interest in heavy-handed psychologizing. The external manifestations of character, personality, manners, and talent--these he valued, and these, as the letters show, he had. Also revealed are his wit, charm, and ambition (to write the greatest American novel); his literary ideals, his self-criticism (especially after long periods of drinking), and his generosity (offering money to the chronically impoverished Hemingway even as he was appealing for advances on his own magazine stories, mostly for the Saturday Evening Post). His letters to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, are especially revealing about his craft, his good-natured response to criticism, and the selective way he accepted advice (fortunately, The Great Gatsby was not renamed Tancredi). The relationship between his life and his work is powerfully demonstrated in this brief collection: He writes This Side of Paradise to earn money to marry Zelda--then they live like literary characters, until Zelda, from drinking and the misplaced ambition to become a ballet dancer, goes insane, her confinement and treatment inspiring and financed by Tender Is the Night. Perhaps the most touching letters are to his daughter, Scotty, who he feared would be victimized by simply being his child. A wrenching portrait of the trials of writing, the business of success, the proximity of genius and tragedy.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.