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The Crack Up
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The Crack Up

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The Crack Up 

F. Scott Fitzgerald


"Sometimes," Scott Fitzgerald once said, "I don't know whether I'm real or whether I'm a character in one of my own novels."  He wasn't really confused of course; even in his wildest moments, Fitzgerald retained his bright sense of objectivity.  Yet he shared with the characters in his books the quality of seeming to be completely representative of his time.  The bright star of the "lost generation," a best-selling author at the age of 23, he was plunged by his fabulous success into a dizzy life of travel, gay society, and abundant sprees, yet through it all he kept working, producing the masterpieces--The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, for instance--which have earned him a place in the first rank of American writers.  His life, like his fiction, was an intensely personal blend of romance and realism. 

Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44.  Shortly afterward his close friend, Edmund Wilson, put together this selection of his writings, the nearest thing to an autobiography that Fitzgerald ever wrote.  Here are his personal essays--candid to the point of starkness--his notebooks, his vigorous and revealing letters, as well as contributions by such friends as T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, and John Dos Passos.  This is the story of Fitzgerald's "crack-up," his quick descent from success to failure and despair and his determined recovery.  Above all it is the story of a man whose personality still charms us all and whose reckless gaiety and genius made him the living symbol of his era.