F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Handwritten Manuscripts for The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise & More


We rarely think about where F. Scott Fitzger­ald’s hard-liv­ing, often trag­ic gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can writ­ers went to school. This year, how­ev­er, Fitzger­ald’s own almost-alma mater mer­its a note: the nov­el­ist began his stud­ies at Prince­ton exact­ly one hun­dred years ago this fall, begin­ning class­es on his birth­day, Sep­tem­ber 24, 1913. To mark the occa­sion, that Ivy League insti­tu­tion has dig­i­tized their The Great Gats­by-writ­ing alum­nus’ man­u­scripts. Ear­li­er this year, in fact, they com­plet­ed the process on Fitzger­ald’s man­u­script, or man­u­scripts, of Gats­by itself. “We can see Fitzger­ald at work on his third nov­el over a four-year peri­od,” says  the announce­ment from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Library’s Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions (RBSC), which offers “Ur-Gats­by (2‑page frag­ment), the author’s aban­doned effort, con­ceived in 1922 and writ­ten in 1923; The Great Gats­by auto­graph man­u­script (302 pages), which he large­ly wrote in France and com­plet­ed by Sep­tem­ber 1924;” and “cor­rect­ed gal­leys of ‘Tri­mal­chio,’ the novel’s work­ing title when it was type­set by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1924, only to be much reworked by the author ear­ly in 1925.”

You can find these online in the Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Dig­i­tal Library. There you can also, nat­u­ral­ly, find papers asso­ci­at­ed with This Side of Par­adise, the nov­el Fitzger­ald began, under the work­ing title The Roman­tic Ego­ist, while still at Prince­ton. The book, says the RBSC, “still stands as the most famous lit­er­ary work about Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. While Fitzger­ald was not a good stu­dent and nev­er grad­u­at­ed, drop­ping out in 1917 to join the U.S. Army dur­ing World War I, he began learn­ing the craft of writ­ing as an under­grad­u­ate and befriend­ed oth­er stu­dents who were aspir­ing authors, Edmund Wil­son, Class of 1916, and John Peale Bish­op, Class of 1917. Fitzger­ald came to form a deep affec­tion for Prince­ton that last­ed until his untime­ly death in Hol­ly­wood.” They’ve dig­i­tized the cor­rect­ed 1918 type­script of The Roman­tic Ego­ist, and the man­u­script of This Side of Par­adise. You can peruse all of these online in the PUDL’s Fitzger­ald col­lec­tion. Some regard Gats­by as a per­fect nov­el; Edmund Wil­son called Par­adise “one of the most illit­er­ate books of any mer­it every pub­lished.” (“Hasti­ly writ­ten” and “some­what dis­joint­ed,” says the RBSC itself.) But see­ing how either became the Fitzger­ald books we know today will prove instruc­tive to read­ers and writ­ers, aca­d­e­mics and (like Fitzger­ald, evi­dent­ly) non-aca­d­e­mics alike.

You can find Gats­by and This Side of Par­adise in our col­lec­tion of 500 Free eBooks.

via Paris Review

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Sto­ry “May Day,” and Near­ly All of His Oth­er Work, Free Online

Sev­en Tips From F. Scott Fitzger­ald on How to Write Fic­tion

The Evo­lu­tion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Sig­na­ture: From 5 Years Old to 21

Gertrude Stein Sends a “Review” of The Great Gats­by to F. Scott Fitzger­ald (1925)

F. Scott Fitzger­ald Cre­ates a List of 22 Essen­tial Books, 1936

Ernest Hem­ing­way to F. Scott Fitzger­ald: “Kiss My Ass”

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les PrimerFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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