May 2013 Archives

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Currently on view in the lobby of Firestone Library through Commencement.

The Princeton University Library and the Class of 1953 join in honoring the author John McPhee on the occasion of his 60th class reunion. McPhee has been a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton since 1974, leading two seminars every three years. The present exhibition focuses on McPhee’s approach to factual writing, which is central to his teaching at Princeton and has contributed to the success of his many students. The exhibition shows stages of the creative process, from concept to bound book and beyond. McPhee’s own papers show the author at work, beginning with information gathering in the field and formalizing his notes. McPhee structures his writing with the help of diagrams, as explained in his recent article, “Structures,” in The New Yorker (January 14, 2013). Then, working with editors and publishers, he crafts a series of manuscript drafts and corrects proofs. The resulting articles, first published in The New Yorker and, occasionally, other magazines, have been the starting point for most of McPhee’s twentyeight books and two readers published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, as well as reprints, e-books, and translations. Included in the exhibition are loans from Farrar, Straus and Giroux and The New Yorker, as well as papers and awards loaned by the author himself.

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Like the novel itself, the epigraph of The Great Gatsby has achieved mythic status.

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
        If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
        I must have you!”
              - Thomas Parke D’Invilliers

Who was Thomas Parke D’Invilliers? First appearing in This Side of Paradise, he is the poet-companion of Amory Blaine and carried the epithet “that awful highbrow.” Here, on the title page of Fitzgerald’s third novel, D’Invilliers provides paratextual poetry. Custom expects real authors to provide epigraphs. His signed epigraph reverses what we understood him to be when we first met him.

According to the general editor of the Cambridge Fitzgerald Edition, Professor James L.W. West III “… several times during his life, F. Scott Fitzgerald received queries from people who wanted to quote that epigraph. They wanted to know who T. P. D’Invilliers was, so they could seek permission. But I have never seen, am not aware of, any document in which Fitzgerald says that T.P. D’Invilliers is a fictional character, and that he wrote that epigraph himself.”

A recent gift of a presentation copy of The Great Gatsby provides documentary evidence of what has long been assumed regarding Fitzgerald’s authorship of the epigraph. Moreover, this copy has an added attraction. The presentation inscription is the autograph original of a Fitzgerald poem.

“From Scott Fitzgerald / (Of doom a herald) / To Horace McCoy / (no harbinger of joy)
Hollywood 1939”

Horace McCoy was a novelist and near contemporary of Fitzgerald. McCoy is best known for his novel They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935).

The gift is a legacy to the Library from the Lawrence D. Stewart Living Trust. Prof. Stewart purchased the book in an California bookstore and published his findings in 1957 —- Lawrence D. Stewart, “Scott Fitzgerald D’Invilliers,” American Literature, XXIX (May 1957), 212-213. [Stable URL http://www.jstor.org/stable/2922109.] His article did not reproduce the signed title page nor the autograph presentation.

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