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Scott Fitzgerald Paperback – October 7, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Grove expands its "Great Lives" series with these top-shelf biographies. Arvin's portrait of Melville snagged a National Book Award (NBA) in 1950 and is still a leading title on the sailor turned author. Germaine de Stael vigorously opposed Napoleon and had affairs with the leading intellectuals of her day, all of which are marvelously detailed in Herold's 1958 volume, which also won an NBA. Though not a prize winner, Turnbull's portrait of the short, unhappy life of Scott Fitzgerald was the leading biography of its time (1962) before being bested by Matthew Bruccoli's Some Sort of Epic Grandeur in 1981. All of these volumes are worthy editions to public and academic library collections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Grove Great Lives
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Grove Press ed edition (October 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802138500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802138507
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald is now fifty years old, but it wears well and I could not ask for more in a biography. Andrew Turnbull set out to write a biography that focused on Fitzgerald's personality (as opposed to his literary works), and he succeeded admirably.

In preparation for this work Turnbull interviewed or corresponded with literally hundreds of people. (At the Plaza Hotel in New York he found only one person who remembered Fitzgerald - a bellboy.) Turnbull was aided, and no doubt inspired, by his own recollections of Fitzgerald. They met when he was eleven, Fitzgerald was thirty-six, and Fitzgerald rented an old Victorian house on the Turnbull family estate outside Baltimore. Fitzgerald and his daughter Scottie, joined for periods by Zelda (when she was not in a sanatorium in Baltimore), lived there for about two years, during which time Fitzgerald was quite accessible to and friendly with the Turnbull family.

Fitzgerald could be a showman and a show-off, and frequently he was a boor - especially when he was drunk (a state more common for him than for most people, even more common than for most writers). But the essential Fitzgerald was a Romantic and an archetypal Irishman, a combination that perhaps made the alcoholism inevitable. He was unusually magnanimous, both with his money and his time and attention. He was devoted to Zelda, even after she slipped the traces and drifted off into her own worlds of schizophrenia. He promoted and encouraged numerous other writers. And, of course, he was a brilliant writer himself. Among the tributes from Turnbull: "No one had written more gorgeously than he of America's last fling at adolescence.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Corsa on January 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Andrew Turnbull's well-written biography brings F. Scott Fitzgerald to life. While the book is well researched and organized, ultimately it is Turnbull's wonderful language that makes this book shine. He carefully and lyrically describes, not just people's physical characteristics, but also their personalities and personal energy. And Turnbull focuses his book's attention on his subjects' most lively and engaging interactions, quoting letters and discussions at length only when they are truly fascinating. Turnbull, who knew Fitzgerald personally and considered him a friend, obviously loved the subject of this book - and that love helped to bring its subject to life. It helps, of course, that Fitzgerald led a wild, legendary existence.

The best I can do, to give a sense of this book, I think, is to quote a few passages, half-randomly, directly from Turnbull's prose:

In describing Fitzgerald's school headmaster: "He was almost pure albino with thin flaxen hair, white eyebrows and lashes, and pink watery eyes that jiggled behind thick lenses. His soft bulk, his round face with a button nose surmounting several rolls of chin -anyone could see that Fay liked to eat" (Turnbull 1962, 39).

In describing Fitzgerald's final years: "Now was the time of hospitals, nurses, night sweats, sedatives, and despair. Fitzgerald seemed to be slipping back into the morass of 1935-6. Half-crazed with worry and isolation, he was also blocked in his work and 'a writer not writing,' he once remarked, 'is practically a maniac within himself'" (Turnbull 1962, 298).

In describing Zelda, Fitzgerald's wife: "Zelda, too, was acting strangely. With her angry sidelong glances and barbed remarks there was something crouching and inimical in her posture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Brennan on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a devotee of F. Scott Fitzgerald, this is by far the definitive biography of this very special writer. Written by a man who, as a child and young man, knew him personally. Fitzgerald lived in a vastly interesting time and was the voice for his era. Battling money woes and alcoholism, he ended his brilliant career pretty much as a has-been and a movie hack writer in Hollywood. A colorful and tragic figure, after his untimely death, a critic wrote of his last book (published after his death) -- "You can take your hats off now, gentlemen, and I think perhaps you'd better."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Martin on May 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the first biography of Fitzgerald I read back when I was in high school (don't ask!), and it's still the best. Turnbull, who had a passing acquaintance with Fitzgerald, was a fine writer who sadly took his own life after completing this biography. For those readers who want to "dig deeper" into the story F. Scott Fitzgerald, in preparation for DeCaprio's turn at Gatsby, Turnbull also edited a book of Fitzgerald's letters to his daughter "Scottie" F. Scott Fitzgerald - Letters to His Daughter. I was drawn to Turnbull because of his sympathetic yet thorough biography of THOMAS WOLFE (one of the first); I think it is still the best "Wolfe" biography I've ever read Thomas Wolfe. Both biographies were well recieved when first published, but it is very, very sad to see that his fine work about Wolfe has been overshadowed, and nearly forgotten, since its publication in 1962(fortunately, his biography of Fitzgerald has fared better with this edition plus two paperback reissues). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ANYONE WHO ADMIRES WOLFE OR FITZGERALD.

A Footnote:

For someone who is just discovering the world of Fitzgerald, Wolfe, or Ernest Hemingway, they might want to read about MAXWELL PERKINS who had the extraordinary luck to be the editor for all three writers at Scribners from 1920s through the 1940s. Their stories are extraordinary. Max Perkins: Editor of Genius or The Sons of Maxwell Perkins: Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and Their Editor.
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