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Last Man of Letters

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1983

The Forties: From the Notebooks and Diaries of the Period 
by Edmund Wilson, edited and introduced by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 369 pp., £14.95, August 1983, 0 333 21212 6
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The Portable Edmund Wilson 
edited by Lewis Dabney.
Penguin, 647 pp., £3.95, May 1983, 0 14 015098 6
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To the Finland Station 
by Edmund Wilson.
Macmillan, 487 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 333 35143 6
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... so interesting as the memoir of Margaret Canby, though the years it covers saw the death of Scott Fitzgerald, Wilson’s marriage to and divorce from Mary McCarthy, a new marriage, the first seven years at the New Yorker, the publication of To the Finland Station, Memoirs of Hecate County, The Wound and the Bow, and six other books, to say ...

Miz Peggy

Penelope Gilliatt, 15 September 1983

The Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 340 32348 5
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... devastation. Although she had been an adolescent fan-letter writer – to Vincent Benét and to F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was later to be one of the many writers hired and sacked on the script of the film – the admired ones’ sage abstention from answering taught her nothing. When Gone with the Wind was published, fan letters arrived in sacks ...

Standing at ease

Robert Taubman, 1 May 1980

Faces in My Time 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 230 pp., £8.50, March 1980, 0 434 59924 7
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... natural tone. He recounts a good deal of literary as well as military life; there are anecdotes of Scott Fitzgerald, ‘Waugh, Greene, Eliot and others. Only Malcolm Muggeridge is given a full, persuasive study, bristling with interest and Mr Powell’s kind of psychological deconstructions, recalling those of the novels (and incidentally his admiration ...

Happy Few

Patricia Beer, 23 May 1991

Told in Gath 
by Max Wright.
Blackstaff, 177 pp., £11.95, January 1991, 0 85640 449 7
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... Gath, which gives a devastating picture of thoroughly modern Brethren, modishly referring to Scott Fitzgerald and Pan Am jumbo jets bound for South Korea, slapping God on the back in prayer, competitively singing hymns in alternate lines (gallery v. floor, under-forties v. over-forties), and ‘pretending self-indulgently that if Christ was not ...

Azure Puddles

John Bayley, 21 May 1987

Compton Mackenzie: A Life 
by Andro Linklater.
Chatto, 384 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 7011 2583 7
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... pleasure. But Mackenzie’s influence at the time was far greater, and it was international. Both Scott Fitzgerald and Edmund Wilson were fascinated by him: the lush vivacity of his prose not only animates the former’s early novels (intended to be ‘intellectual’ like H.G. Wells, ‘and improper like Compton Mackenzie’), but is just as ...
John Cheever: The Journals 
Cape, 399 pp., £16.99, November 1991, 0 224 03244 5Show More
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... 10 a.m. and then before breakfast. ‘1966: I sit on the terrace reading about the torments of Scott Fitzgerald. I am, he was, one of those men who read the grievous accounts of hard-drinking, self-destructive authors, holding a glass of whisky in our hands, the tears pouring down our cheeks.’ ‘1968: Dear Lord – who else? – keep me away from ...


Robert Irwin: The Best Thing since Sex, 2 December 1993

... roll-call of writer-enthusiasts: Horace, Sidney, Marlowe, Byron, Arnold, Brooke, Gide, Scott Fitzgerald and, most recently, Charles Sprawson. It is true, of course, that Vladimir Nabokov was a keen roller-skater back in Berlin in the Twenties. More recently, my own novel The Limits of Vision included an extravagantly irrelevant vignette of a ...

Homo Narrator

Inga Clendinnen, 16 March 2000

Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography 
by Susanna Egan.
North Carolina, 275 pp., £39.95, September 1999, 0 8078 4782 8
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... in describing the ambiguous dynamics of his complex, contestful, admiring relationship with Scott Fitzgerald, not the character assassination it is so often taken to be. There is, of course, a problem. Two hundred years ago Rousseau was surely as aware an autobiographer, as conscious of the transformations and deformations wrought by translating ...

Asking to Be Looked at

Wayne Koestenbaum, 25 January 1996

Mapplethorpe: A Biography 
by Patricia Morrisroe.
Macmillan, 461 pp., £20, September 1995, 9780333669419
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Playing with the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe 
by Arthur Danto.
California, 206 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 520 20051 9
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... to a personal anecdote, and then back to literature: In a famous episode of A Moveable Feast, F. Scott Fitzgerald expresses concern about the size of his penis, Zelda having said it was inadequately small; and Hemingway suggests he compare himself with what is to be found on classical statues, saying that most men would be satisfied with that. In my ...

That’s Liquor!

Nick James, 7 March 1996

Leaving Las Vegas 
directed by Mike Figgis.
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... crowd of the Twenties and Thirties, matching the literary hard drinking of the writers around Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Actors were even encouraged in their cups by movie fans. According to the pioneer producer J. Stuart Blackton, ‘Prohibition ... brought about the unique situation of reminiscent and heartfelt applause from the audience ...

A Bit of a Lush

Christopher Tayler: William Boyd, 23 May 2002

Any Human Heart 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 504 pp., £17.99, April 2002, 9780241141779
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... and introduces us. Logan Mountstuart – Ernest Hemingway. The pointy-faced man is, inevitably, Scott Fitzgerald; later on, with equal inevitability, a sentence about Tender is the Night is followed by one about jazz. Mountstuart himself, on the other hand, remains strangely insubstantial. He does things and meets people, but it’s hard to get much ...

A Taste for the Obvious

Brian Dillon: Adam Thirlwell, 22 October 2009

The Escape 
by Adam Thirlwell.
Cape, 322 pp., £16.99, August 2009, 978 0 224 08911 1
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... Thirlwell’s narrator, in other words, badly wants to be the kind of novelist – Saul Bellow, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Mann are among those he quotes, according to the postscript – who could make Literature out of the thin delusions of a reprobate like Haffner. Unless, of course, it is Thirlwell who wants to be that novelist, in which case ...


James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... her tremulous, shy, disingenuous smile and saying Halloo with the dying fall of an F. Scott Fitzgerald chick spinning giddily to hell’. Carter establishes her dirty atmospherics with superb swiftness and confidence – some extravagant and dangerous players, a seedy Gothic neighbourhood both real and set-like. But she seems not to know what ...


Glen Newey: Life with WikiLeaks, 6 January 2011

... in virtue, may get travestied by the inwardly vicious. Everyone also suspects himself, as Scott Fitzgerald noted, of possessing at least one cardinal virtue. Where politicians continually have to flatter a demos that sees them as clay-footed, each citizen, banjaxed and blandished by turns, is apt to divine in himself a moral purity his political ...

In the Butcher’s Shop

Peter de Bolla: Deleuze on Bacon, 23 September 2004

Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation 
by Gilles Deleuze, translated by Daniel Smith.
Continuum, 209 pp., £9.99, March 2004, 0 8264 7318 0
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... on Beckett’s Film, as well as a two-volume work on cinema), on literature (Lewis Carroll, Zola, Scott Fitzgerald, Artaud, Proust, Melville, Whitman, Kafka, Beckett and T.E. Lawrence, among others), and on painting (including an essay on the French artist Gérard Fromanger which likens painting to cookery). He wrote in the preface to Différence et ...

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