Vol. 17 No. 1 1950 - page 26

The Fitzgeralds reached Paris early in May 1925 and
presently rented an apartment for the rest of the year at 14 Rue de
Tilsitt. By this time Perkins had been able to give Fitzgerald a report
The Great Gatsb
"Sales situation doubtful," he cabled. "Excellent
reviews." It was an extremely accurate report, for the sales continued
to be, by Fitzgerald's standards, very mediocre, whereas the reviews
were much the best he had ever had. By the time
was pub–
lished, he had built up his debt to Scribner's to something over $6,200.
By October the book had sold just short of 20,000 copies, a sale slight–
ly below what would have covered his debt; by February it had sold
a few thousand copies more and was almost completely dead.
Fitzgerald was deeply disappointed by the book's financial career.
In February he had written Bishop: "We want to come back but we
want to come back with money saved and so far we haven't saved
any." He had had the greatest hopes that
would sell on such
a scale as to make him the kind of money he wanted.
was, in a way,
a fantastic, assured expectation of the happily miraculous, but Fitz–
gerald was an optimistic young man and his experience had con–
nived, by producing a series of near miracles, to convince him that if
he did his best he would attain fame and fortune. Such an expecta–
tion was part of the pattern he had been brought up on, and if he had
in some ways outgrown his background, he had by no means lost his
conviction that money in large quantities was desirable. The com–
bination of naivety and almost frightening clarity in his understanding
of himself in this respect
very characteristic. From the day he
announced that he would be satisfied with a sale of 20,000 copies of
This Side of Paradise
he had continued to assume that a novelist
deserves a very large return for his work.
he wrote Perkins when
the sales situation became clear, "[my next novel] will support me with
no more intervals of trash I'll go on as a novelist.
not I'm going to
quit, come home, go to Hollywood and learn the movie business . . .
there's no point in trying to be an artist if you can't do your best."
This would be a sensible enough statement-Fitzgerald knew what
he could command in Hollywood-except that its basic idea, his no-
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