Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories

Overview

Written between 1920 and 1937, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was at the height of his creative powers, these ten lyric tales represent some of the author's finest fiction. In them, Fitzgerald creates vivid, timeless characters — a dissatisfied southern belle seeking adventure in the north; the tragic hero of the title story who lost more than money in the stock market; giddy and dissipated young men and women of the interwar period. From the lazy town of Tarleton, Georgia, to the glittering cosmopolitan centers of New...

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Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories

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Overview

Written between 1920 and 1937, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was at the height of his creative powers, these ten lyric tales represent some of the author's finest fiction. In them, Fitzgerald creates vivid, timeless characters — a dissatisfied southern belle seeking adventure in the north; the tragic hero of the title story who lost more than money in the stock market; giddy and dissipated young men and women of the interwar period. From the lazy town of Tarleton, Georgia, to the glittering cosmopolitan centers of New York and Paris, Fitzgerald brings the society of the "Lost Generation" to life in these masterfully crafted gems, showcasing the many gifts of one of our most popular writers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684824482
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 5/24/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 352,803
  • Lexile: 1070L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896, attended Princeton University, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and the couple divided their time among New York, Paris, and the Riviera, becoming a part of the American expatriate circle that included Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos. Fitzgerald was a major new literary voice, and his masterpieces include The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of forty-four, while working on The Love of the Last Tycoon. For his sharp social insight and breathtaking lyricism, Fitzgerald is known as one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.

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Read an Excerpt

THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ

John T. Unger came from a family that had been well known in Hades — a small town on the Mississippi River — for several generations. John's father had held the amateur golf championship through many a heated contest; Mrs. Unger was known "from hot-box to hot-bed," as the local phrase went, for her political addresses; and young John T. Unger, who had just turned sixteen, had danced all the latest dances from New York before he put on long trousers. And now, for a certain time, he was to be away from home. That respect for a New England education which is the bane of all provincial places, which drains them yearly of their most promising young men, had seized upon his parents. Nothing would suit them but that he should go to St. Midas' School near Boston — Hades was too small to hold their darling and gifted son.

Now in Hades — as you know if you ever have been there — the names of the more fashionable preparatory schools and colleges mean very little. The inhabitants have been so long out of the world that, though they make a show of keeping up to date in dress and manners and literature, they depend to a great extent on hearsay, and a function that in Hades would be considered elaborate would doubtless be hailed by a Chicago beef-princess as "perhaps a little tacky."

John T. Unger was on the eve of departure. Mrs. Unger, with maternal fatuity, packed his trunks full of linen suits and electric fans, and Mr. Unger presented his son with an asbestos pocket-book stuffed with money.

"Remember, you are always welcome here," he said. "You can be sure, boy, that we'll keep the home fires burning."

"I know," answered John huskily.

"Don't forget who you are and where you come from," continued his father proudly, "and you can do nothing to harm you. You are an Unger — from Hades."

So the old man and the young shook hands and John walked away with tears streaming from his eyes. Ten minutes later he had passed outside the city limits, and he stopped to glance back for the last time. Over the gates the old-fashioned Victorian motto seemed strangely attractive to him. His father had tried time and time again to have it changed to something with a little more push and verve about it, such as "Hades — Your Opportunity," or else a plain "Welcome" sign set over a hearty handshake pricked out in electric lights. The old motto was a little depressing, Mr. Unger had thought — but now....

So John took his look and then set his face resolutely toward his destination. And, as he turned away, the lights of Hades against the sky seemed full of a warm and passionate beauty.

St. Midas' School is half an hour from Boston in a Rolls-Pierce motor-car. The actual distance will never be known, for no one, except John T. Unger, had ever arrived there save in a Rolls-Pierce and probably no one ever will again. St. Midas' is the most expensive and the most exclusive boys' preparatory school in the world.

John's first two years there passed pleasantly. The fathers of all the boys were money-kings and John spent his summers visiting at fashionable resorts. While he was very fond of all the boys he visited, their fathers struck him as being much of a piece, and in his boyish way he often wondered at their exceeding sameness. When he told them where his home was they would ask jovially, "Pretty hot down there?" and John would muster a faint smile and answer, "It certainly is." His response would have been heartier had they not all made this joke at — best varying it with, "Is it hot enough for you down there?" which he hated just as much.

In the middle of his second year at school, a quiet, handsome boy named Percy Washington had been put in John's form. The newcomer was pleasant in his manner and exceedingly well dressed even for St. Midas', but for some reason he kept aloof from the other boys.

Copyright © 1960 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1937 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright renewed 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1965 by Charles Scribner's Sons

THE RICH BOY

Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created — nothing. That is because we are all queer fish, queerer behind our faces and voices than we want any one to know or than we know ourselves. When I hear a man proclaiming himself an "average, honest, open fellow," I feel pretty sure that he has some definite and perhaps terrible abnormality which he has agreed to conceal — and his protestation of being average and honest and open is his way of reminding himself of his misprision.

There are no types, no plurals. There is a rich boy, and this is his and not his brothers' story. All my life I have lived among his brothers but this one has been my friend. Besides, if I wrote about his brothers I should have to begin by attacking all the lies that the poor have told about the rich and the rich have told about themselves — such a wild structure they have erected that when we pick up a book about the rich, some instinct prepares us for unreality. Even the intelligent and impassioned reporters of life have made the country of the rich as unreal as fairy-land.

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, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different. The only way I can describe young Anson Hunter is to approach him as if he were a foreigner and cling stubbornly to my point of view. If I accept his for a moment I am lost — I have nothing to show but a preposterous movie.

II

Anson was the eldest of six children who would some day divide a fortune of fifteen million dollars, and he reached the age of reason — is it seven? — at the beginning of the century when daring young women were already gliding along Fifth Avenue in electric "mobiles." In those days he and his brother had an English governess who spoke the language very clearly and crisply and well, so that the two boys grew to speak as she did — their words and sentences were all crisp and clear and not run together as ours are. They didn't talk exactly like English children but acquired an accent that is peculiar to fashionable people in the city of New York.

In the summer the six children were moved from the house on 71st Street to a big estate in northern Connecticut. It was not a fashionable locality — Anson's father wanted to delay as long as possible his children's knowledge of that side of life. He was a man somewhat superior to his class, which composed New York society, and to his period, which was the snobbish and formalized vulgarity of the Gilded Age, and he wanted his sons to learn habits of concentration and have sound constitutions and grow up into right-living and successful men. He and his wife kept an eye on them as well as they were able until the two older boys went away to school, but in huge establishments this is difficult — it was much simpler in the series of small and medium-sized houses in which my own youth was spent — I was never far out of the reach of my mother's voice, of the sense of her presence, her approval or disapproval.

Anson's first sense of his superiority came to him when he realized the half-grudging American deference that was paid to him in the Connecticut village. The parents of the boys he played with always aired after his father and mother, and were vaguely excited when own children were asked to the Hunters' house.

Copyright © 1960 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1937 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright renewed 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1965 by Charles Scribner's Sons

THE ICE PALACE

The sunlight dripped over the house like golden paint over an art jar, and the freckling shadows here and there only intensified the rigor of the bath of light. The Butterworth and Larkin houses flanking were intrenched behind great stodgy trees; only the Happer house took the full sun, and all day long faced the dusty road-street with a tolerant kindly patience. This was the city of Tarleton in southernmost Georgia, September afternoon.

Up in her bedroom window Sally Carrol Happer rested her nineteen-year-old chin on a fifty-two-year-old sill and watched Clark Darrow's ancient Ford turn the corner. The car was hot — being partly metallic it retained all the heat it absorbed or evolved — and Clark Darrow sitting bolt upright at the wheel wore a pained, strained expression as though he considered himself a spare part, and rather likely to break. He laboriously crossed two dust ruts, the wheels squeeking indignantly at the encounter, and then with a terrifying expression he gave the steering-gear a final wrench and deposited self and car approximately in front of the Happer steps. There was a plaintive heaving sound, a death-rattle, followed by a short silence; and then the air was rent by a startling whistle.

Sally Carrol gazed down sleepily. She started to yawn, but finding this quite impossible unless she raised her chin from the window-sill, changed her mind and continued silently to regard the car, whose owner sat brilliantly if perfunctorily at attention as he waited for an answer to his signal. After a moment the whistle once more split the dusty air.

"Good mawnin'."

With difficulty Clark twisted his tall body round and bent a distorted glance on the window.

"'Tain't mawnin', Sally Carrol."

"Isn't it, sure enough?"

"What you doin'?"

"Eatin' 'n apple."

"Come on go swimmin' — want to?"

"Reckon so."

"How 'bout hurryin' up?"

"Sure enough."

Sally Carrol sighed voluminously and raised herself with profound inertia from the floor, where she had been occupied in alternately destroying parts of a green apple and painting paper dolls for her younger sister. She approached a mirror, regarded her expression with a pleased and pleasant languor, dabbed two spots of rouge on her lips and a grain of powder on her nose, and covered her bobbed corn-colored hair with a rose-littered sunbonnet. Then she kicked over the painting water, said, "Oh, damn!" — but let it lay — and left the room.

"How you, Clark?" she inquired a minute later as she slipped nimbly over the side of the car.

"Mighty fine, Sally Carrol."

"Where we go swimmin'?"

"Out to Walley's Pool. Told Marylyn we'd call by an' get her an' Joe Ewing."

Clark was dark and lean, and when on foot was rather inclined to stoop. His eyes were ominous and his expression somewhat petulant except when startlingly illuminated by one of his frequent smiles. Clark had "a income" — just enough to keep himself in ease and his car in gasoline — and he had spent the two years since he graduated from Georgia Tech in dozing round the lazy streets of his home town, discussing how he could best invest his capital for an immediate fortune.

Hanging round he found not at all difficult; a crowd of little girls had grown up beautifully, the amazing Sally Carrol foremost among them; and they enjoyed being swum with and danced with and made love to in the flower-filled summery evenings — and they all liked Clark immensely.

Copyright © 1960 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1937 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright renewed 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1965 by Charles Scribner's Sons

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

The Ice Palace

May Day

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz

Winter Dreams

Absolution

The Rich Boy

The Freshest Boy

Babylon Revisited

Crazy Sunday

The Long Way Out

A Brief Life of E Scott Fitzgerald

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    emotionally touching, timeless stories

    the stories in this collection showcase the best and the most unusual of fitzgerald's short stories. some, like "diamond as big as the ritz," will surprise readers while the title story, "babylon revisited," will haunt her nights.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2004

    That's Life

    It's Fitzgerald life, his experience, his failure and his glory (fractionally, of course) slapped down in ten short stories of insightful intrigue and powerful pathos.

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