dedalus Posted April 30, 2011 Share Posted April 30, 2011 Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) The rich are different from you and me, said sad-eyed Fitzgerald, sozzled in Paris, to which burly Hemingway, the boxer, replied, yes, they have more money. Inexplicably, this became the iconic dry reply, quoted over and over again, finding its way into all the college textbooks. But self-doubting Fitz had it right. You are warm inside, I am cold outside. Knock, knock Daisy Buchanan had a voice full of money, tinkling, silvery, cold and careless; with her shining hair and pouting lips, she had been born to accept convenience. Coolly, she witnessed the wreckage of lives, other people’s lives, little people’s lives, and then she blithely, gently, drifted away, leaving others to clean up behind. Fitzgerald understood these things and Hemingway never did. Hem thought you could bluster and break through, be a better man than you, a two-fisted man from Big Two-Hearted River. You could fight the war from an ambulance, marry Hadley, write short sentences, go to bullfights, drink, desert your wife, then marry her friend, shut out your child, and go off to shoot animals in Africa. Write stories and then books in short sentences, get drunk, go fishing, get in a couple of airplane crashes, go to Cuba, get drunk, now and then get married some more. It worked. It wasn’t a bad old life. Successful writer, self-serving asshole until it all came down to that cold bleak day in Idaho and to the final metallic taste of that shotgun on your lips. Tell me, how did that feel? Nada, Our Father who art in Nada. Nada is thy name. Mr Famous. Mr Empty, you knew Fitzgerald was much better than you but you had one thing going, one thing that he didn’t have: you were not married to crazy Zelda. You were afraid of him at first, but then you were able to mock him, and in the end you simply ran him down. He was a better writer than you, you knew that, but the drink and Zelda would wear him down. You feared The Great Gatsby, you could see the play of a true artist’s life on display, all the subtle touches that you couldn’t do; hinting at Robert Louis Stevenson, his kindred writer before him; Fitzgerald went to the heart of our fascination with the multiple nature of ordinary lives, a thing you were broadly (in fact, totally) incapable of, so you smouldered and damn well hated him for it. You could never write like Fitzgerald, never uncover a mild Dr Jekyll, a Nick Carroway, nor revel in his half-horrified fascination with the things that money can do: I live in this mansion, Old Sport, Haven’t quite counted the rooms, All my suits come from Savile Row, My shirts come from Jermyn Street, My shoes, of course, are handmade; I have servants, wine, food in abundance, The whole place is lit up like Coney Island. Mr. Nowhere Man from Nowhere. Everything began to fall in place, In Gatsby’s dreams, in Fitzgerald’s, and all for the sake of a brittle romance, shattered, splintered, nearly broken apart. The first novel, “This Side of Paradise” sealed his fate. Such early success condemned him: assured him, fatally, of money, convinced his Southern belle to marry him. Ooo, let’s go to Paris! cried Zelda, where all the advanced people go. One can imagine how well that went down among the embittered postwar French. Champagne, champagne, toujours champagne! The dollar then went a long long way and all the locals (according to books and diaries) were landladies, waiters and taxi drivers. Life was grand for Yankee layabouts, joy was an endless jamboree. It was 1928, says Fitzgerald, intermittently, inescapably observant, that I noticed how soft we'd become. Some of us were veterans of the War, but all the local boys on this Italian beach could have beaten the crap out of us. Hemingway, of course, would have none of it. He was still boxing in short sentences. Hem, I want you to look at my prick. Scott, tight, not quite drunk, dragged his uneasy friend into the gurgling toilets. Zelda says I'm too small, says I'm no good. You're only small, says Hemingway, because you are not aroused. Hey tiger! I'm telling you, Scotty, pay no attention, She's an emasculating bitch! You can't say that. She's my wife, godammit! Ah fuck it, Scott, pull up your trousers. Seventeen drafts for a novel, written again and again and again, just to get the dialogue, the tone exactly right. I would say that was serious. Damn the drink and Zelda! The Saturday Evening Post paid excellent money in the early years for the popular Fitzgerald stories. He worked so hard at his craft, in moments of sobriety, rewriting again and again and again, just, just to get things exactly right, as if that ever happens. Then suddenly he was no longer popular. He went to Hollywood on a contract to write screenplays from nine to five In a breezeblock California building with other sad less famous scribblers. He wrote heartfelt letters to his daughter, until, finally, the drink did him in, or else those bruises in his heart. He could see them so clearly through the window. You are warm inside, I am cold outside. Knock, knock The rich are different from you and me. ================================= This is a revision of an older poem (2004-05?) which I cant help but keep coming back to. I read more and more of Fitzgerald and less of Hemingway. I think Hemingway could have saved Fitzgerald as a friend and a writer during their days together in Paris but chose not to do so. The quicker Fitzgerald's life fell apart as a writer and rival, the better it would be for him. I can't prove it, nobody can, but it is hard not to feel this is what happened. Hemingway resented Fitgerald's success and popularity and secretly hoped that drink and his difficult wife would destroy him: before long, they did. Quote Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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