Vol. 17 No. 1 1950 - page 17

actually lived
in the early twenties "when we drank wood alcohol
and every day in every way grew better and better, and there was a
first abortive shortening of the skirts, and girls all looked alike in
sweater dresses, and people you didn't want to know said 'Yes, we have
no bananas,' and it seemed only a question of a few years before the
older people would step aside and let the world be run by those who
saw things as they were."
They were beautiful and young and charming;
None had such promise then, and none
Your scapegrace wit or your disarming grace;
For you were bold as was Danae's son,
Conceived like Perseus in a dream of gold
as John Peale Bishop wrote of Scott. They often enough got very
drunk- for they were more or less drunk most of the time-and be–
haved sophomorically or downright badly, but they did almost every–
thing with "an almost theatrical innocence" and very few people
minded and many people loved them. Something of the almost child–
ish sense of deviltry with which they took their own unconvention–
ality can be seen in Zelda's report of how she fell on a bottle during
a party:
can't possibly sit on the three stitches
it now-the
bottle was bath salts-I was boiled-The place was a tub somewhere
-none of .us can remember the exact locality." It was for them a
time "when the fulfilled future and the wistful past were mingled in
a single gorgeous moment" and so intense was their awareness of this
quality that even experiences of this order seemed charming and
entertaining. Fitzgerald had achieved his dream of writing a success–
ful book, marrying Zelda, .and "crashing New York society." For a
moment the delights of anticipation remained to give a kind of fairy–
story charm to the achievement. But with his sharp historian's sense
of what was happening to him, Fitzgerald understood that anticipation
could not survive achievement long; fulfillment, he knew, destroyed
the dream; it was not by going Letheward but in the very temple of
Delight that one found melancholy. In the middle of this achieved
"orgiastic future," as he calls it in
The Great Gatsby,
he sat alone,
riding through New York "between very tall buildings under a mauve
and rosy sky," and "bawHed] because I had everything I wanted and
knew I would never be so happy again." It was not simply that the
orgiastic future which "year by year recedes before us" drove him
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