Tag: F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s show time!

Thursday, 16 May, 2013 0 Comments

Gatsby anticipation is in the house. We’ve got a ticket for this evening’s 7 pm screening and great are the expectations. Meanwhile, the spin-off industry rumbles on and no (precious) stone is left unturned as it seeks to cash in on the film of the book.

Tifanny brooch F. Scott Fitzgerald was a customer of Tiffany, the American jewelry emporium, and in The Great Gatsby Tom Buchanan gives Daisy a string of pearls worth $300,000 on the eve of their wedding, a nod by the author to the fact that Tiffany promoted pearls as a female rite of passage during the Jazz Age. To honour the film, Tiffany has introduced two lines of Fitzgerald-themed jewelry: The Great Gatsby Collection features replicas of 30 pieces seen in the film, while the more modestly priced Ziegfeld line is a 14-piece collection that includes a sterling silver Daisy Heart Locket; a pair of 18-karat gold and black enamel cuff links decorated with a “GG” monogram; a sterling silver ring set with black onyx carved in a daisy motif; and a tassel necklace of tiny pearls — redolent of the Champagne bubbles of the era — that would have been the ultimate accessory during a late-night orgy in Gatsby’s Long Island mansion.

For the rest of us, there’s the soundtrack with songs by Lana del Ray, Gotye, Bryan Ferry, Florence and the Machine, Jack White, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.


Rewriting the Mona Lisa

Tuesday, 14 May, 2013 0 Comments

The Great Gatsby “How I rewrote ‘The Great Gatsby'” was the Telegraph headline yesterday. That did not bode well as everyone knows rewriting The Great Gatsby is as just as impossible as repainting the Mona Lisa. Of course, online versions of newspapers have to lure readers and so-called “link bait”, while blatantly dishonest, is part of the journalism trade today. The hooked reader then discovers that the headline changes to “Craig Pearce, co-writer of Baz Lurhmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, reveals all.” That’s slightly less bombastic, but Gatsby fans will be alarmed to read that, “At the end of our first months working in Australia, our screenplay was four hours long.” If the author of Gatsby could create a masterpiece with just 180 pages of prose, what is the need for four hours of screenplay?

Pearce gives the game away when he writes, “One of the things that makes Gatsby so potent is Fitzgerald’s gorgeous, poetic prose, and it’s very hard to recreate that cinematically.” The “very hard” there is one of the great understatements of our time because the more fitting term would be “impossible”. No one can film this:

“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the centre of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light.”

Now, just because the ethereal beauty of these words cannot be filmed it does not mean that Baz Luhrmann was wrong to attempt to capture what they say for the screen. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” wrote Robert Browning and it is very brave of Luhrmann to risk the opprobrium that will appear here on Friday if it turns out that he mistook the rewriting of Craig Pearce for the impressionistic painting of F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Sentence symmetry

Monday, 13 May, 2013 0 Comments

The Great Gatsby Opening sentence: “It is on The Great Gatsby by Australian director Baz Luhrmann, that the curtain will rise at the inauguration of the 66th Festival de Cannes, on Wednesday 15th May, in the Grand Théâtre Lumière of the Palais des Festivals, out of Competition in the Official Selection.” Festival de Cannes press release

Opening sentence: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” The Great Gatsby

Unlike the writers of many press releases, F. Scott Fitzgerald knew how to balance the contents of a sentence. He could do short: “His wife was shrill, languid, handsome, and horrible.” And he could do long: “At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others — poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner — young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.” Overall, though, he strove for symmetry and one of many delights of re-reading Gatsby lies in savouring the different ways in which he achieved proportion.

In late 1938, Radcliffe College student Frances Turnbull sent her latest short story to family friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. His response, found in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, stresses the importance of emotional investment in writing and offers some very honest advice on the essence of great writing:

November 9, 1938

Dear Frances:

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming — the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’ You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,

Your old friend,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.


The eyes have it

Sunday, 12 May, 2013 0 Comments

“But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you percieve, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J.Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J.Eckleburg are blue and gigantic — their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous […]

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Vampire Weekend starts here

Saturday, 11 May, 2013 0 Comments

Their new album, Modern Vampires of the City, will be officially released on Monday and the expectations are that with it Vampire Weekend will transcend the novelties of the noughties and establish themselves as a band of some considerable sophistication and endurance. As next week here on Rainy Day will be devoted to The Great Gatsby, there’s no better way to warm up than with Step, which is all about words and feelings plus imagery of the place that’s central to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece: “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”

[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/62777463″ width=”100%” height=”480″]


The undead returns to Europe

Wednesday, 27 February, 2013 0 Comments

The undead Just as F. Scott Fitzgerald toyed with Trimalchio as a possible title for The Great Gatsby, Bram Stoker considered using the title The Un-Dead for his novel Dracula. In both cases, we should be eternally grateful for what finally appeared on the cover as Gatsby and Dracula have become metaphors for hosts of phenomena, ranging from plutocracy to lack of proper dental care.

Roger Corman and lots of other makers of Hollywood B movies are in the debt of Bram Stoker as well because his use of “undead” is responsible for the modern horror sense of the word. Neologism note: The word undead does not appear in English before Stoker. Definition: “The term undead describes beings in mythology, legend or fiction that are deceased yet behave as if alive. A common example is a corpse re-animated by supernatural forces by the application of the deceased’s own life force or that of another being.”

Following the inconclusive Italian election at the weekend, the undead euro has returned to haunt its crazed creators. Today, Italy will attempt to sell between €3 billion and €4 billion of a new 10-year bond and between €1.75 billion and €2.5 billion of five-year paper. Observer should keep a close eye on two-year Italian yields for signs that the market is worried the political paralysis has voided the protection offered by the European Central Bank’s bond-buying pledge.

“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” Dracula


Old town graffiti

Sunday, 17 February, 2013 0 Comments

“The truth was that for some months he had been going through that partitioning of the things of youth wherein it is decided whether or not to die for what one no longer believes. In the dead white hours in Zurich staring into a stranger’s pantry across the upshine of a street-lamp, he used to […]

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November rain

Sunday, 11 November, 2012 0 Comments

“The unwelcome November rain had perversely stolen the day’s last hour and pawned it with that ancient fence, the night.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

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The sumptuous Gatsby trailer

Wednesday, 23 May, 2012

The first trailer for Baz Luhrmann‘s interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s classic, The Great Gatsby, is a sumptuous affair. The clip features Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, and, going on the glimpse we’re offered, Luhrmann has not cut corners on costumes or set design. The film will be released on 26 December in […]

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Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t get his face on the Great Gatsby poster

Friday, 30 March, 2012

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under […]

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