|"I’m afraid my own career, which has been erratic and disordered, if seldom dull, would not be a very inspiring one to dilate on..."|
A Remarkable Letter: F. Scott Fitzgerald Evaluates His Career And Offers Life Advice While Awaiting The Publication Of The Great Gatsby.
The letter, responding to a request by an American teacher S.D. Green to offer advice to his students, is written in ink and signed by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It reads in full:
Dear Mr. Green:
Your letter followed me around Europe and reached me here. Tell them please how I regret this delay, and that I appreciate their interest and the fact that they have chosen me. I’m afraid my own career, which has been erratic and disordered, if seldom dull, would not be a very inspiring one to dilate on -- in fact my hope is that my own children will be better equipped for life and less trustful as to what their elders (including me) tell them. If I were to say anything it would be that each man’s truth is peculiar to himself and that nothing is worth believing as to conduct in life except that which you find out for yourself or at least confirm for yourself.
With best wishes to them and to you
Although not dated, the letter was written between February and April 1925, while Fitzgerald was staying at the Hotel Tiberio in Capri awaiting the publication of his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, published on April 10, 1925.
The recipient, S.D. Green, wrote letters soliciting the advice of various noteworthy people during the years 1922-25.
Hotel Tiberio, Capri, Italy. Feb-April 1925. One 8x12 inch sheet, written on one side; custom decorative box by noted book designer Sjoerd Hofstra. Usual folds, evidence of paper clip at top margin; generally fine.
Fitzgerald Letters With Such Revealing Content Are Extraordinarily Rare On The Market.
|Location of Origin: North America|
|Medium/Materials: One 8x12 inch sheet, written on one side; custom decorative box by noted book designer Sjoerd Hofstra.|
|Dimensions: 8x12 inch|
|Primary Classification: Antique Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Historical Documents, Letters & Autographs|
|Fitzgerald during this time was in a state of high anxiety. As late as March 19, he was still wrestling with the title, sending a cable to Max Perkins that he was “crazy about [the] title Under the Red White and Blue” (instead of “The Great Gatsby”), but Perkins replied that it was too late to change. In his letter of March 31 to Perkins (from the Hotel Tiberio), he worries, “As the day approaches, my nervousness increases. Tomorrow is the 1st [of April] and your wire says the 10th. I’ll be here until the 25th, probably later, so if the book prospers I’ll expect some sort of cable before I leave for Paris.... Yours in a Tremble, Scott.” |
The turbulent nature of Fitzgerald’s career and life is legendary, and in this letter - written at one of the most critical moments of his life - Fitzgerald reveals a high level of self-awareness (and prescience) in realizing that his path may not be a model for others to follow. In the actual advice he does offer, he displays his own insecurities over the discovery of truth and a distrust for authority that would become an essential characteristic for members of his “Lost Generation”.
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