Fitzgerald’s Unpublished Short Stories

Lovers of the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), Class of 1917, can celebrate the publication of I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories (Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Anne Margaret Daniel *99, a literature professor at The New School, prepared this eagerly awaited edition. The book includes sixteen previously unpublished short stories and two “uncollected stories.” Some are what Fitzgerald labeled “false starts.” Others had been rejected outright by publishers; needed revision, for which he lacked time; or dealt with taboo subjects. Daniel has edited most of these unpublished stories from handwritten and typescript drafts in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers (C0187), Manuscripts Division. The author’s daughter, Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan, donated the papers to Princeton in 1950, along with the papers of her mother, Zelda Fitzgerald. Scottie retained a group of unpublished stories in the hope of finding a publisher. Unfortunately, most of these stories were not published. Put aside and forgotten, they were rediscovered by the Fitzgerald family a half century later.

Fitzgerald is celebrated today for The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tender is the Night (1934), though his youthful first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), holds a special place in Tiger hearts. Yet for most of his life, Fitzgerald made a living as a successful writer of light fiction, especially for The Saturday Evening Post. Fitzgerald published more than 150 short stories in popular American magazines, from “Babes in the Woods” (1919) to the posthumous “Gods of Darkness” (1941). Some stories were published in series, like the Basil Duke Lee stories in The Saturday Evening Post and Pat Hobby Stories in Esquire. A number of the short stories are highly regarded by critics, such as “Winter Dreams” (1922), “Absolution” (1924), “The Rich Boy” (1926), “Babylon Revisited” (1931), and “Crazy Sunday” (1932). Many of Fitzgerald’s short stories were anthologized by Charles Scribner’s Sons in Flappers and Philosophers (1920), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), All the Sad Young Men (1926) and Taps at Reveille (1935).

All but one of the short stories in I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories date from the 1930s, when the intertwined lives of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were unraveling, and Fitzgerald was struggling to make a living as an author and screenwriter. Several stories are clearly autobiographical in part, including “The I.O.U.” (1920), written early in Fitzgerald’s literary career, about publishing; “Nightmare (Fantasy in Black)” (1932), set in a mental hospital; “I’d Die for You (The Legend of Lake Lure)” (1935/36), drawing on his time in North Carolina; “Travel Together” (1935/36), about a struggling screenwriter; “The Pearl and the Fur” (1936), which takes some inspiration from Scottie Fitzgerald; “Offside Play” (1937), about collegiate football, ostensibly at Yale; and “Love is a Pain” (1939/40), recalling Princeton days. Providing a context for Fitzgerald’s very readable stories are the editor’s general introduction, head notes and explanatory notes for each story, and a selection of illustrations (mostly from the Fitzgerald Papers). The book is available from the publisher and e-booksellers. The editor has also written, “The Story behind Fitzgerald’s Lost Short Stories” in The Guardian.

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