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A Life in Letters Hardcover – July 18, 1994

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

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"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 503 pages
  • Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons; 1st edition (July 18, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684195704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684195704
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robert S. Clay Jr. on April 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli offers a discerning sample of Fitzgerald's letters that serve as an informal biography. Fitzgerald suffered many demons. Alcoholism and poor health were the obvious problems. From reading his letters, we learn that protecting his artistic integrity also weighed heavily on him. Money problems forced him to spend time writing lightweight but commercially viable stories for magazines. This took precious time away from his major work of writing serious novels. His afflicted wife, Zelda, was another dilemma. In 1930, Zelda had her first breakdown, and never recovered. Providing for her care and treatment added to his money woes. Although Fitzgerald enjoyed early success in 1920 with "This Side of Paradise," it was short-lived. By 1924, he wrote to Edmund Wilson, "I really worked hard as hell last winter--but it was all trash and it nearly broke my heart." There was critical success in 1925 with "The Great Gatsby," but it was a financial disappointment. Fitzgerald spent the next nine years writing, revising, and agonizing over "Tender Is the Night." Contrary to hope, that book failed to restore his reputation. The letters display deep introspection, opinions on other writers, comments of manners and morals, and daily concerns of money. There are also amusing and chatty letters to his daughter, Scottie. Fitzgerald's letters to Scribner's Maxwell Perkins and his literary agent, Harold Ober, are the most interesting, and reveal much of his concerns and ideas. Letters written to Zelda in the sanitarium are generally tender and loving, but occasionally they are cross and complaining. The book stops with a letter written to Scottie shortly before Fitzgerald's death in December 1940. Recommended reading for F. Scott Fitzgerald fans. ;-)
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By A Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is the sort of book that makes one long for the days prior to-email, when people actually wrote letters to one another and correspondence other than bills and junk mail filled one's mailbox. The book is a valuable supplement to Fitzgerald's many biographies; his letters reveal a remarkable clarity and self-awareness. My heart ached after reading some of them. A must read for all Fitzgerald historians.
I do recommend reading one of Fitzgerald's many biographies prior to reading his letters, as it is a fascinating exercise comparing Fitzgerald's interpretation/rationalization of an event with a third party's.
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Format: Hardcover
If you want to gain insight into the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald then seek no further. This amazing compilation of Fitzgerald's correspondences to family, friends, business associates and acquaintances portrays the man and the writer in a way no biographer could imagine. In his letters can be clearly seen Fitzgerald the literary genius, Fitzgerald the loving husband and father as well as Fitzgerald the sycophant and Fitzgerald the tortured and insecure neurotic.The genesis and the demise of one of the most fascinating men of his time eloquently presented in his own words.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had wished for more letters to and from Zelda; less to his editors. Even so, I would buy and relish any words
or script written by the god of clever, quick-witted, sincere, blunt honest, & many times delusional words of my favorite,
F. scott Fitzgerald. What a pitiful life for such a proud peacock.
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