What I’d Die for You tells us about Fitzgerald’s troubled final years. And how he turned personal tragedy into his best work.
With the writers we read again and again, our interpretation of their stories and legacies tends to change over time.
On Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and the sexual anxiety of the Lost Generation for The Paris Review
Ernest Hemingway And you prop your legs over his shoulders. And they are warm. He is warm. His forehead is sweaty. Your legs are tired. But you are not tired. He begins. He finishes. You finish. Perhaps not until later. By yourself. It is a cycle. The fan spins on you, on him, on your legs. Your mind begins to wander. It was pleasant. Not good. But not bad. He proved strong and capable in the face of a task. This is all you can ask of him. Jean-Paul Sartre I wonder what the meaning of my existence is if Simone can give me so much carnal pleasure? For if my existence is meaningless then God is not real; yet if God were real and Man were real than God would necessarily reduce Man to a mere object. Perhaps that is exactly it. Perhaps I am a mere object in her hands, malleable like sexualized clay, my existential existence constructed entirely by her. Oh, but she is not God! There is no omniscient being even …
In 1910, a fourteen-year-old Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald began recording his friendships, debaucheries, and many, many crushes in a diary known as his “thoughtbook.” It’s almost disturbing how perceptive he was of his social sphere at such a young age, and we can see his famous romantic idealization of women beginning to take flight with phrases like “she was very pretty with dark brown hair and eyes big and soft,” and moments where he grew so embarrassed over a crush that upon an unlikely meeting with one, he wrote, “I nearly fell down with embarrassment but I finally stammered ‘Give this to Kitty,’ and ran home.”