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Fairyland

Bruce Bawer, 2 May 1985

Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald 
by James Mellow.
Souvenir, 569 pp., £15.95, February 1985, 0 285 65001 7
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Home before Dark: A Personal Memoir of John Cheever 
by Susan Cheever.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £10.95, January 1985, 0 297 78376 9
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... Scott Fitzgerald – who was renowned in his lifetime as much for his escapades with Zelda as for his contribution to literature – would doubtless be gratified to know how profoundly most literate citizens of the English-speaking world now admire The Great Gatsby, Tender is the night, and a number of his short stories ...

Wonder

Michael Wood, 10 November 1994

The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew Bruccoli.
Cambridge, 352 pp., £30, June 1994, 9780521402316
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The Great Gatsby 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew Bruccoli.
Cambridge, 225 pp., £27.95, October 1991, 0 521 40230 1
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Scott FitzgeraldA Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 333 59935 7
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... But the response seems too blunt and broad for that – too blunt and broad for either Gatsby or Fitzgerald. If Gatsby were at all given to making jokes, we might think this was one. There is an American myth, Fitzgerald’s myth, in which the West and the Middle West are one: they are not-the-East. The East is New York ...

Vampire to Victim

Nina Auerbach: The Cult of Zelda, 19 June 2003

Zelda FitzgeraldHer Voice in Paradise 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 492 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7195 5466 7
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... Zelda Fitzgerald would probably call herself a post-feminist today, but when she was alive, she made herself a flapper. In 1926, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s charmingly wild wife told an interviewer that she hoped her daughter’s generation would be even ‘jazzier’ than her own: ‘I think a woman gets more happiness out of being gay, light-hearted, unconventional, mistress of her own fate, than out of a career that calls for hard work, intellectual pessimism and loneliness ...

Three Poems

Hugo Williams, 10 February 1994

... My father lived in the Garden of Allah, an exotic, bungalow-style hotel which Thomas Wolfe told Scott Fitzgerald he could not believe existed, even in Hollywood. He was sacked by Paramount after serving only one year of a five-year contract when his first three films made the Critics’ Ten Worst Films list for 1934. He heard the news of his redundancy ...

He had it all

Alex Harvey: Fitzgerald’s Decade, 5 July 2018

Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald 
by David S. Brown.
Harvard, 424 pp., £21.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 50482 0
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‘I’d Die for You’ and Other Lost Stories 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Scribner, 384 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4711 6473 6
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... Scott Fitzgerald​ spent his declining years in ‘a hideous town, pointed up by the insulting gardens of its rich, full of the human spirit at a new low of debasement’. Hollywood, he complained in 1940, was ‘a dump, in the human sense of the word. Everywhere there is … either corruption or indifference ...

All of Denmark was at his feet

John Sutherland, 12 May 1994

John Steinbeck: A Biography 
by Jay Parini.
Heinemann, 605 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 434 57492 9
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... that took a firm moral line and conveyed a message.’ Dyslexia is similarly indulged; ‘Like Scott Fitzgerald, his contemporary, Steinbeck could neither spell nor punctuate.’ When Steinbeck drops out of Stanford, Parini observes that ‘Like so many gifted writers – F. Scott Fitzgerald, W. H. Auden and ...

Diary

Jay McInerney: The Great American Novelists, 23 April 1987

... hype before slitting their throats. ‘There are no second acts in American lives,’ said F. Scott Fitzgerald, archetype of the American artist betrayed by the Judas kiss of fame, his early work overpraised, he himself declared a has-been just as he was achieving mastery. No one understood the process better than the author of The Great ...

On the Beach

Peter Campbell: Untucked, 5 September 2002

... to look back so far that you could imagine she remembered the days before sunbathing, Chanel and Scott Fitzgerald, when winter visitors fled the heat and the hotels on the Riviera shut for the summer. It is a time Paris itself has forgotten. The plage they have created on the quay upstream from the Pont Neuf – a stretch of sand and an avenue of potted ...

Shakers

Denis Donoghue, 6 November 1986

Write on: Occasional Essays ’65-’85 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 211 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 436 25665 7
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... Uncollected Short Stories of J.D. Salinger, a book about the ‘Catholic sensibility’ of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Blake Morrison’s The Movement, Martin Amis’s Success, Tony Tanner’s Adultery in the Novel, Graham Greene’s Ways of Escape, Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, Truman Capote’s Music for Chameleons, the Oxford American ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas Powers, 4 July 2013

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... when you’re young. ‘I want to be one of the greatest writers who have ever lived,’ Scott Fitzgerald said to his friend Edmund Wilson when they were just out of college, ‘don’t you?’ Wilson was the son of a lawyer, a bit chilly, a prodigious reader steeped in Plato and Dante. He thought ...

Swinging it

Mark Ford, 7 July 1988

S.J. Perelman: A Life 
by Dorothy Herrmann.
Simon and Schuster, 337 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 671 65460 8
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Don’t tread on me: The Selected Letters of S.J. Perelman 
edited by Prudence Crowther.
Viking, 372 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 670 81759 7
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... the time, Hollywood was the obvious solution to anyone struggling to make a living out of writing. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Nathanael West, all did their time on studio payrolls, and West and Fitzgerald in their respective last works, The Day of the Locust and The Last Tycoon, somehow ...

Manners maketh books

E.S. Turner, 20 August 1981

Debrett’s Etiquette and Modern Manners 
edited by Elsie Burch Donald.
Debrett, 400 pp., £8.95, June 1981, 0 905649 43 5
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... Robert Peel: ‘He is no gentleman. He divides his coat tails when he sits down.’ A letter by Scott Fitzgerald is printed as a charming example of how to coax a 19-year-old daughter into saying thank-you for favours received. Outshining it is Henry James’s letter to the newly-bereaved Sir Leslie Stephen, held up as an example of the perfect letter ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘The Constant Gardener’, 3 November 2005

... who dreamed that one up?’ Roy Bland asks George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974). ‘Scott Fitzgerald,’ Smiley replies. The aphorism, or at any rate Bland’s paraphrase, applies just as well to a double-agent. Or to any spy: Smiley and his kind perpetrate all sorts of illegal, immoral and anti-democratic acts in the name of democracy ...

Family Life

Penelope Fitzgerald, 25 March 1993

Poet and Dancer 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 199 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 7195 5189 7
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Peerless Flats 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 241 13385 8
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... The background of Poet and Dancer is the Manhattan of the recent past, still almost as pastoral as Scott Fitzgerald makes it in The Great Gatsby. Angel gets her early vision of the city from the attic of her grandparents’ brownstone, ‘looking down into the little paved garden with the brilliant new towers rising above and round her’. All through the ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood, 19 May 1983

Duluth 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... a bungled invention. Vidal knows this very well, and speaks, in Pink Triangle and Yellow Star, of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald wanting not to go into movies but ‘to live as if they were inside a movie. Cut to Antibes. Dissolve to the Ritz in Paris.’ But Vidal himself has a perfectly clear sense of the real as real. ‘A ...

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