Lost Generation Problems

Place Vendome

Dear Copybara,

Fitzgerald or Hemingway?

Jan

Dear Jan,

Neither? If forced to choose, we should first recall the famous (?) penis anecdote from A Moveable Feast and then probably decide on that basis which person we prefer—the contemptibly bashful neurotic or the contemptibly authoritative asshole. For my part I find Hemingway slightly less contemptible, though not for lack of trying, and he’s certainly a better writer. Anyway here is two of the greatest frenemies ever having a nice chat over lunch (Fitzgerald starts, and keep in mind Hemingway wrote this, caveat lector):

“Finally when we were eating the cherry tart and had a last carafe of wine he said, ‘You know I never slept with anyone except Zelda.’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘I thought I’d told you.’
‘No.  You told me a lot of things but not that.’
‘That is what I want to ask you about.’
‘Good.  Go on.’
‘Zelda said that the way I was built I could never make any woman happy and that was what upset her originally. She said it was a matter of measurements.  I have never felt the same since she said that and I have to know truly.’
‘Come out to the office,’ I said.
‘Where is the office?’
‘Le water,” [the men’s room] I said.
We came back into the room and sat down at the table.
‘You’re perfectly fine,’ I said.  ‘You are O.K.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened.  Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile.’
‘Those statues may not be accurate.’
‘They are pretty good.  Most people would settle for them.’
‘But why would she say it?’
‘To put you out of business.  That’s the oldest way in the world of putting people out of business.  Scott, you asked me to tell you the truth and I can tell you a lot more but this is the absolute truth and all you need.  You could have gone to a doctor.’
‘I didn’t want to.  I wanted you to tell me truly.’
‘Now do you believe me?’
‘I don’t know,’ he said.
‘Come on over to the Louvre,’ I said.  ‘It’s just down the street and across the river.’
We went over to the Louvre and he looked at the statues but still he was doubtful about himself.
‘It is not basically a question of the size in repose,’ I said.  ‘It is the size that it becomes.  It is also a question of angle.’
I explained to him about using a pillow and a few other things that might be useful for him to know.
‘There is one girl,’ he said, ‘who has been very nice to me.  But after what Zelda said–‘
‘Forget what Zelda said,’ I told him.  ‘Zelda is crazy.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  Just have confidence and do what the girl wants.  Zelda just wants to destroy you.’
‘You don’t know anything about Zelda.’
‘All right,’ I said.  ‘Let it go at that.  But you came to lunch to ask me a question and I’ve tried to give you an honest answer.’
But he was still doubtful.
‘Should we go and see some pictures?’ I asked.  ‘Have you ever seen anything in here except the Mona Lisa?’
‘I’m not in the mood for looking at pictures,’ he said.  ‘I promised to meet some people at the Ritz bar.'”

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One comment

  1. Jan

    Dear Copybara,

    Many thanks for your reply to my Hemingway or Fitzgerald inquiry. When I was thirteen, my brother let me borrow his favorite books by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, J. D. Salinger, Nathanael West and William Golding. It wasn’t until he passed away that I realized how this simple yet powerful gesture would resonate throughout my life. To this day, I am mesmerized by the evocative image of the green light on Daisy’s East Egg dock. That green light is something. While watching a sunset, I still search for the green flash. You may find Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s conversation about the size of one’s manhood vulgar and boring but I see the human condition and raw human emotion and Fitzgerald does a bang up job of rolling back the curtain on the trust fund babies and their escapades on The Grand Tour. These authors write of pain, war, love and disillusionment. These emotions remain universal. I think these American writers are brilliant and they were very much present within a unique block of time. Lucky for us they put their thoughts down on paper.

    P.S. Lovely images of Place Vendome. It is a shame the Hotel du Ritz is currently closed for renovations.

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