Fitzgerald: The Lost Decade: Short Stories from Esquire, 1936-1941


This volume of the Cambridge Edition includes thirteen short stories published by Fitzgerald in Esquire, together with the entire Pat Hobby Series - seventeen stories about an aging screenwriter scrambling to make a living in Hollywood during the 1930s. One other story - "Dearly Beloved," submitted to Esquire but not published there - is included as an appendix. The volume provides restored, accurate texts based on Fitzgerald's surviving manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs. A textual apparatus records editorial ...
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This volume of the Cambridge Edition includes thirteen short stories published by Fitzgerald in Esquire, together with the entire Pat Hobby Series - seventeen stories about an aging screenwriter scrambling to make a living in Hollywood during the 1930s. One other story - "Dearly Beloved," submitted to Esquire but not published there - is included as an appendix. The volume provides restored, accurate texts based on Fitzgerald's surviving manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs. A textual apparatus records editorial decisions; explanatory notes identify people, places, literary works, historical events, and references to Hollywood actors, directors, and films. The volume also includes selected facsimiles of Fitzgerald's manuscripts and typescripts for the Esquire writings.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… well done and the stories will be welcome for all those who enjoy Fitzgerald's work or who are interested in the author's final years.' Contemporary Review

''Cambridge editions of [Fitzgerald's] works contribute to such an intricate access through their wealthy textual apparatus, explanatory notes, and background materials.' Stefan L. Brandt, John F. Kennedy-Institut, Berlin

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Product Details

Meet the Author

James L. W. West III is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.


The greatest writers often function in multifaceted ways, serving as both emblems of their age and crafters of timeless myth. F. Scott Fitzgerald surely fits this description. His work was an undeniable product of the so-called Jazz Age of the 1920s, yet it has a quality that spans time, reaching backward into gothic decadence and forward into the future of a rapidly decaying America. Through five novels, six short story collections, and one collection of autobiographical pieces, Fitzgerald chronicled a precise point in post-WWI America, yet his writing resonates just as boldly today as it did nearly a century ago.

Fitzgerald's work was chiefly driven by the disintegration of America following World War I. He believed the country to be sinking into a cynical, Godless, depraved morass. He was never reluctant to voice criticism of America's growing legions of idle rich. Recreating a heated confrontation with Ernest Hemingway in a short story called "The Rich Boy," Fitzgerald wrote, "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 preceding quote may sum Fitzgerald's philosophy more completely than any other, yet he also hypocritically embodied much of what he claimed to loathe. Fitzgerald spent money freely, threw lavish parties, drank beyond excess, and globe-trotted with his glamorous but deeply troubled wife Zelda. Still, in novel after novel, he sought to expose the great chasm that divided the haves from the have-nots and the hollowness of wealth. In This Side of Paradise (1920) he cynically follows opulent, handsome Amory Blaine as he bounces aimlessly from Princeton to the military to an uncertain, meaningless future. In The Beautiful and the Damned (1922) Fitzgerald paints a withering portrait of a seemingly idyllic marriage between a pair of socialites that crumbles in the face of Adam Patch's empty pursuit of profit and the fading beauty of his vane wife Gloria.

The richest example of Fitzgerald's disdain for the upper class arrived three years later. The Great Gatsby is an undoubted American classic, recounting naïve Nick Carraway's involvement with a coterie of affluent Long Islanders, and his ultimate rejection of them when their casual decadence leads only to internal back-stabbing and murder. Nick is fascinated by the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who had made the fatal mistake of stepping outside of his lower class status to pursue the lovely but self-centered Daisy Buchanan.

In The Great Gatsby, all elements of Fitzgerald's skills coalesced to create a narrative that is both highly readable and subtly complex. His prose is imbued with elegant lyricism and hard-hitting realism. "It is humor, irony, ribaldry, pathos and loveliness," Edwin C. Clark wrote of the book in the New York Times upon its 1925 publication. "A curious book, a mystical, glamorous story of today. It takes a deeper cut at life than hitherto has been essayed by Mr. Fitzgerald."

Gatsby is widely considered to be Fitzgerald's masterpiece and among the very greatest of all American literature. It is the ultimate summation of his contempt for the Jazz-Age with which he is so closely associated. Gatsby is also one of the clearest and saddest reflections of his own destructive relationship with Zelda, which would so greatly influence the mass of his work.

Fitzgerald only managed to complete one more novel -- Tender is the Night -- before his untimely death in 1940. An unfinished expose of the Hollywood studio system titled The Love of the Last Tycoon would be published a year later. Still The Great Gatsby remains his quintessential novel. It has been a fixture of essential reading lists for decades and continues to remain an influential work begging to be revisited. It has been produced for the big screen three times and was the subject of a movie for television starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino, and Paul Rudd as recently as 2000. Never a mere product of a bygone age, F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest work continues to evade time.

Good To Know

In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood to pursue a screenwriting career. He only completed a single screenplay Three Comrades during this time before being fired for his excessive drinking.

He held a very romantic view of Princeton before attending the university in 1913. However, his failure to maintain adequate grades or become the football star he dreamed to be lead to an early end to his studies in 1917.

Fitzgerald owes a his name to another famous American writer. He was named after Francis Scott Key, the composer of "The Star Spangled Banner," who also happened to be a distant relative of Fitzgerald's.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 24, 1896
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Death:
      December 21, 1940

Table of Contents

Sect. I Esquire Stories, 1936-1941

Three Acts of Music (May 1936) 3

The Ants at Princeton (June 1936) 10

"I Didn't Get Over" (October 1936) 15

An Alcoholic Case (February 1937) 23

The Long Way Out (September 1937) 31

The Guest in Room Nineteen (October 1937) 37

In the Holidays (December 1937) 43

Financing Finnegan (January 1938) 50

Design in Plaster (November 1939) 59

The Lost Decade (December 1939) 65

On an Ocean Wave (February 1941) 69

The Woman from "21" (June 1941) 73

Three Hours between Planes (July 1941) 77

Sect. II The Pat Hobby Series, 1940-1941

Pat Hobby's Christmas Wish (January 1940) 87

A Man in the Way (February 1940) 97

"Boil Some Water - Lots of It" (March 1940) 103

Teamed with Genius (April 1940) 109

Pat Hobby and Orson Welles (May 1940) 118

Pat Hobby's Secret (June 1940) 126

Pat Hobby, Putative Father (July 1940) 133

The Homes of the Stars (August 1940) 141

Pat Hobby Does His Bit (September 1940) 148

Pat Hobby's Preview (October 1940) 157

No Harm Trying (November 1940) 164

A Patriotic Short (December 1940) 174

On the Trail of Pat Hobby (January 1941) 178

Fun in an Artist's Studio (February 1941) 183

Two Old-Timers (March 1941) 190

Mightier than the Sword (April 1941) 195

Pat Hobby's College Days (May 1941) 201

Record of variants 209

Explanatory notes 221

Illustrations 249

App. 1 "Dearly Beloved" 256

App. 2 Publication and earnings 259

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