cover image Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald

Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald

Scott Donaldson. Overlook Press, $29.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-87951-711-3

Perhaps a respite from the flood of work on these two writers is in order. Not that there's anything particularly wrong or especially bad about this effort; it merely demonstrates that for the moment there's little to add on the subject. For here are all the old familiar places (Paris, the French Riviera, Key West, Hollywood, peopled with all the old familiar faces) Gerald and Sara Murphy, Maxwell Perkins, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish, Brett Ashley, Zelda, Hadley, Pauline, all coming and going in what have become virtually set pieces in the long-running drama of the lost generation. The oft-told anecdotes include, for instance, Fitzgerald's blunder in allowing a Hemingway boxing match to run too long, Fitzgerald's anxieties about the size of his penis, Fitzgerald's editing of The Sun Also Rises. And then there's Hemingway's bullying, his resentment of Zelda, the drinking, the letters of praise and recriminations, the jealousies, the insecurities. Only the most passionate devotee of Fitzgerald, the greatest fan of Hemingway, the true aficionado of the expatriates can possibly be interested in reading it all over again. As for the interested but uninitiated, many other sources (the Hemingway/Fitzgerald letters, their own memoirs and autobiographical ruminations, the countless critical studies and biographies)--including Donaldson's own far superior work on Hemingway (By Force of Will) and Fitzgerald (Fool for Love)--would provide a better starting place. (Nov.)