Sipiora says: You've made several references to Fitzgerald's abilities as a prose stylist. Which dimension or technique of his prose style do you take to be particularly crucial to his art? Bryer says: I'm especially interested in small stylistic units like linked opposites or unusual uses of verbs - esp in Gatsby. In an article I wrote called "Style as Meaning in The Great Gatsby" in Critical Essays on The Great Gatsby I talk about how some of those small units echo the themes of the novel. The whole notion of linked opposites in that novel is an echo of the linked opposition of Gatsby and Daisy, e.g, because they come from different social classses. The linked opposition of Jordan and Nick which is also part of the basic plot of the novel. It seems to me the whole notion of incongruity, of things not going together, is echoed in the use of very small linguistic units in the novel. Here are some examples. A good example of the use of an unusual verb is on p. 40 where Fitzgerald says the earth "lurches" away from the sun. Jordan Baker is quoted as looking with "contemptous interest" into the garden. That seems to me a very incongruous linking of words. "Confused and intriguing sounds." "Ferocious Delicacy" - there are too many of them in the novel for it to be a coincidence and they work well with the theme of the novel. Also in the guest list there is linking of opposites (Stonewall Jackson Abrams - you don't expect the last name). S. P Whitebait (S.P is very aristocratic and Whitebait sounds incongruous with S.P.). Taylor says: You commented that you thought "Babylon Revisited" is Fitzgerald's best story. For me, what makes this story so compelling is the powerful sense I get of all the action and intensity that the reader doesn't witness first hand: the days of Babylon. In this way, the story seems similar to Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River"; that is, we're witnessing an attempt at therapy at the tail-end of a frenzy. Is the "iceberg principle" in effect in "Babylon"? And, if so, can we say--to be provocative--that Fitzgerald might have been imitating Hemingway? Bryer says: I think any good short story to some extent has the characteristic of keeping some of the action below the surface or off the page. So I think that that is something Fitzgerald shares with Hemingway and a lot of other writers. I think you're right that in many ways "Babylon Revisted" deals with something that happened a long time ago and its effect on what is happening now but that is one of Fitz's themes - for example, the notion of Gatsby thinking you can repeat the past. What Charlie is trying to do is redo the past and he can't do that. In Fitz the whole sense of the oppressiveness of the past tends to give the stories a naturalistic element in that there is something the characters can't do anything about. In "Babylon" it seems so unfair to Charlie. All that happened in the past cannot be overcome and he is trying to be reformed in the present and he can't do it. I think there is a similar use of offstage action but not that he is imitiating Hemingway but instead echoing one of the more common techniques of short fiction. Ahern says: In Fitzgerald's short story, "Absolution," some Aristotelian language _leaped out_ at me. Dr. Sipiora has remarked that Fitzgerald was not well-versed in the Classics, but I can't help but feel that the allusion is so perfect that it must be intentional. I refer to the line which states that Rudolf was "truly as well as formally sorry" in his "official soul." This implies something about the way(s) in which Rudolf may view himself as part of society (publicly) or as an individual (privately). However, might it not suggest a familiarity on Fitzgerald's part with Aristotle's belief that habit leads to right behavior? Might it not also suggest that, in the story, Rudolf has reached the point at which right behavior has become entrenched? [Much of the memorable action in Fitzgerald's story relates to tradition and dogma in the Church, therefore the link that I see to habit.] Bryer says: I think that's an interesting idea. The extent of Fitz's reading is not altogether clear. We know that he had a Catholic school education which implies to me he had some familiarity with the classics and there is certainly a lot of scholarship that deals with that. I've never seen this particular point about "absolution." Your point that it implies something about the ways Rudoloph views himself in terms of society did not immediately come to me. I think it may also refer to the idea of the entrenched dogma of the church at war with Rudolph's own personal feelings and that is after all one of the major movements in the story between what he is curious about and what he has been programmed to feel as a good Catholic boy. I'm sure that Dr. Sipiora has told you that originally "Absolution" was the first chapter of Gatsby but Fitz removed it and published it as a short story. It's always interesting to look at it as what Fitz might have intended Gatsby's background to be and how that effects Gatsby's mature action. Write a term paper about it. Zangla says: In the long story or novelette (whichever) "The Rich Boy" there seems to be a division of sections as units in the structure of the story. It seems clear that Section I is a prologue. Is Section VIII a kind of epilogue, a summation of what has already been established in the story? Bryer says: I think it is more than a summary. The end of the story is an example of how Fitz was ambivalent. Anson has lost something permanent. He will never be the same. The narrator says "I was glad.. he was himself... or at least the self I knew." You see how in situations where previously he might have responded some way Anson can never look at life the same way after losing Paula. Dexter can never look at life the same way after losing Judy Jones. In here you find out that Paula has died and in a sense you find out just what effect the news of Judy Jones has had on Dexter Green. A little bit like the end of "Winter Dreams" where you think it continues the action and tells you what the effect is on Anson. It is in a sense an epilogue but summary is not the word I would use. Munns says: The Basil Duke Lee stories seem not only to be autobiographical but are a Jungian template for individuation. One wonders if Fitz had really read Carl Jung's works and saw some character development possibilities that we see in Divers and Gatsby. It appears some self-revelation has been projected into Divers.("crises of awareness) (Mancini in Bryer) Your comment please. Bryer says: You know more about Jung and Fitz than I do ( from that article). I think that it's unlikely Fitz knew Jung as well as Mancini does or you. On the other hand Jung was in the air in the 20's and 30s and it was pretty hard not to know about him (or Freud). But I doubt there was a sort of slavish attempt to write Jungian stories in the Basil stories. I think Mancini's article is useful for the light it casts on the Basil stories. After all, Jung's theories were based on observing people's lives and so were F's stories. In the Basil stories parallels in his life and Fitz's life - evidence they were based on feelings and experience Fitz had as a young man. Jung doing the same sort of thing and reaching the same sort of conclusions. But I dont think Fitz was a careful reader of Jung. Any writer writes partially to learn about themselves and the life they are living. And if certainly Fitz wrote to Perkins that Gatsby started out as myself or became myself that is in some way true of all fictional writers. So there is some projection in all of F's chars. Weisser says: What is important to note about slave/master and dominant/submissive relationships in "Diamond as big as the Ritz?" Are there any racial remarks or statements that are noteworthy in "Diamond?" Bryer says: The race question in Diamond is an interesting one that is part of the story although I dont think it is central to the story. But there is some interesting work that is being done on F 's whole notion of race. And in Gatsby and Tender not only with overtly black characters but with the notion of the "other." Tidwell says: What significance do you attach to the inclusion of so many poems in *This Side of Paradise*? Might these (sophomoric as they may be) reveal a frustration on Fitzgerald's part at not having the skills or inclination to succeed as a poet, or are these possibly meant to demonstrate the derivative and "immature" emotional development of the characters? Bryer says:Two answers to this question. Literally the reason he included them he was anxious to publish and marry Zelda and writing about himself and these were poems he wrote at the age Amory is and so he included them with other work. He basically in writing This Side of Paradise used whatever he had available in order to get the book done as fast as possible. That is the literal reason he used the poems so much. On the other hand, I think it also is a kind of expression of a young writers' inability to decide what form to use as his form of choice. When young we write a little of everything. Fitz in that sense could not decide which genre was his just as Amory can't decide who he is. That's what I meant in my answer to the fax, the protagonist reflects the writer who is writing it. Fitz's is Amory's inmaturity, etc. reflected in the ideas and the method of the novel which is a kind of indecisive first novel. Those are two reasons I think the poems are there - a practical and biographical reason. Hefner says: In _This Side_, Amory turns to Marxism after he has become disillusioned with the society that spawned him. Is it significant that his Marxist interest comes from personal disillusionment rather than from a larger social consciousness? In other words, does it come from personal anger rather than any kind of real sympathy for the working class? Bryer says: Absolutely in anwer to Ron's question. Not sure how conscious Fitzgerald was of what you are saying. Amory has not any notion of implications of Marxism. It is an entirely app to Marzism to his own situation. At the end of the novel he says he knows himself. And he is focused on himself that any theories he has would be personal rather than more global in implications. Amory does not have sympathy for the working class, does not know Marxism is designed for the working class, he spouts Marxism for his own purposes as you say. I would like to think that Fitz in those sections at the end of the novel knew how foolish he was sounding, how immature and self-absorbed. I would like to think F knew that. I hope he did. On the other hand, some of it is so good you almost think he does not know how good it sounds. Not an expansive view of Marxism - you are right. Falco says: Nick Caraway's ambivalent attitude toward Jay Gatsby is confusing. Could you shed some light on this, especially taking into account Nick's statements that Gatsby turned out all right in the end and "You're worth the whole damned bunch?" Bryer says: I'm not sure Nick is ambivalent about Gatsby but is ambivalent at the beginning about what Gatsby stands for, as he says at the beginning of the novel, "Gatsby stood for everything that I have unaffected scorn for." By that I think he means Gats' ostentatiousness. And Nick from a good midwest family has resentment of Gatsby's new rich tends, and ostentatiousness and lack of social graces. Those are things that at the beginning rub him the wrong way (rub Nick). And in that sense the novel is an education of Nick because what he learns is that beneath the surface of Gatsby is a finer person while beneath the surface of the Buchanans who have the grace and refinement and are not gaudy or pretentious and are more aware of the social scene but beneath them and of Jordan is a morally banckrupt series of people. That's one of the interesting ironies in the novel. On the surface Gatsby is everything that seems inept and out of step and incapable of coping and morally corrupt but beneath pure, but Tom and Daisy on surface seem pure and beneath corrupt. That is what Nick learns in the novel, why he rejects Jordan at the end and why he tells Gatsby he is worth the whole damn bunch. Fitz used Nick for us to see what Nick sees, that Gatsby appears to have a dubious past and reputation and where does his money come from, etc, which on the surface seem suspicious, are more than compensated for by the purity and innocence of his vision and even that is mentioned in the earliest part of the novel. After "unaffected scorn" he talks about Gatsby's "extraordinary gift for hope" Stratton says: Do you find any development in Gatsby's character over the course of GG? If so, in what way(s)? If not, does the lack of character development have any noticeable effect on the success of Great Gatsby as novel? Bryer says:That depends on if you think Gatsby believes Daisy is going to call him at the end. If yes, he does believe it, that's why he sits by the phone at the end, then he has not learned anything. If he knows that she is not going to call him then he has learned. Because he is then disillusioned and there is the passage on 162 where Nick says "I have an idea that G himself it would come (the message)" Now, that does not mean we are supposed to believe that Gatsby believed that it would not come. Nick poses it as his belief and I suppose the ultimate answer to this problem tells the reader more about himself, the reader, than the novel. No overt answer to your question in the novel but G is a more romantic character if he does not change and goes to his death believing Daisy cares and she will call him. If he has "wised up" he is less romantic and something of a realist and cynic. I tend to believe on the basis of my reading of the rest of Fitz that he never intended for G to realize. But by having Nick say that, it enables him to have it both ways - plants the idea but makes it Nick's belief. That empowers the reader to have it either way, believe Nick or not. Certainly ways in which you have to be skeptical of Nick and others when you can accept him. This one of those times. Your choice and it tells you more about yourself than Nick or Fitz. I personally don't think G changes and if he had it would be a poorer novel. Walker says: Women in The Great Gatsby are no longer the standard bearers of morality, as they were in novels such as Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Instead they are the standard bearers of "class"--Daisy can't marry beneath herself; Myrtle sides with Tom against the "lower classes." What of the women's failure to live up to the roles imposed on them by society as the receptacles of virtue? Do you think this is a theme in the novel? Bryer says: Very interesting quote that I use on an exam in my Fitz/Hem course, from contemporary critic Tuttleton, he says that most of the modern novelists, Fitz and Hem generation, portrayed the new woman and that new woman lacked all the domestic and traditional virtues of the womanly woman and he cites Brett Ashley and Daisy and even the heroine Catherine as women who are different from the traditional stereotypical heroine of older American fiction. I think Daisy fits into that and so does Jordan very nicely. Don't think feminists have a good time with H and F because they feel the women they depict as womanly such as Frances in The Sun Also Rises are ridiculed. The women who are central are immoral or amoral and not very attractive in the sense of what we normally consider moral behavior. Baker cheats, Daisy's attitude toward children is not caring, children in Tender Is the Night are not tended to, Nicole is having an affair, Rosemary having affair with Dick. Not many women who live upstanding lives morally in Fitz. These are "new" women, central characters who are not traditional female figures of most of 19th and early 20th century lit. One of the changes in early 20th c fiction. Edith Wharton one of the first to depict heroines like that, Lily Bart. Brannen says: Fitzgerald's characters become deeper and more problematic in his more mature works. Please comment on which character in his novels you would consider to be the most complex, and what criteria you would use to make this determination. Bryer says: He felt Buchanan was the best he wrote... does not mean he thought most complex but best depiction ... Tom not very complex character... I think if Fitz had finished Last Tycoon, I think the char of Monroe Stahr might have been a more complex character than any before. One reason is that Stahr has a job which most F don't have, a real job. Dick is a psychiatrist but never see him practice. Stahr is a producer, and spend a lot of time seeing him at work. He is a romantic and realistic about his profession and romantic in personal life and that makes him more complex to start with--I think he would have been a complicated char if novel finished. Of the ones completed, I think Dick is complex because we don't understand entirely what brings his downfall.. combination of circumstances. Gatsby is complicated; he would be more so if we subscribe to the notion that he realizes at the end where he's made mistakes. That is one thing that makes Dick more complicated - he does realize where he has gone wrong. That's what makes the later novels more mature in that his characters tend to see their mistakes (makes them less romantic). In a way "Babylon" is similar to Tender and Last in that Charlie does see what he did wrong. Not sure G does, Amory does not and many of the heroes of the early short stories don't. Makes them diff Complexity comes from self-awareness, in drama and also in fiction. Karon says: You mentioned an interest in "small stylistic units." I'm intrigued by those that appear in several texts, particularly the use of elipsis. Is Fitzgerald consciously lifting this technique from other Modernist writers, or should we view its employment as having other origins? Does Fitzgerald employ elipsis to good effect? Or does it cover problems in transitions? Bryer says: Never thought of this... referring not to ellipses - give me an example. Highly likely he got it from other writers but I've never noticed it. Drake says: Various critics have noted Eliot's profound influence upon Fitzgerald, particularly the substantial number of wastelandic images which appear throughout The Great Gatsby. Do you see any Eliot- inspired imagery in Tender is the Night? What about the ferris wheel which is the site of Nicole's mental breakdown? Could this be yet another nod to Eliot's The Waste Land, with its pervasive, meaningless circularity (e.g., zombies traversing the same dull round; the typist's grammaphone, etc.)? Bryer says: Sure. Never thought of the Eliot in Tender. More overt in Gatsby with the literal wasteland. On the other hand, all the circular imagery and the wheel idea in both Wasteland and Tender both could be traced to more anthropological origins in traditional symbolic meaning. Eliot from someplace and Fitz from someplace but not necessarily Eliot. The whole meaningless circularity of life symbolized... not sure Fitz had to go to Eliot to get it. Pervasive symbol in literature. Smith says: How does the variability of the narrative voice in Tender Is the Night work to shape our reception of the work as a whole? Is it just me, or is there some clear influence from James Joyce's shifting narrative perspective? It just seems to me that the narrative voice is a big issue in a careful reading of Tender Is the Night. Bryer says: Conrad was certainly an influence and Joyce an influence. Don't know how many voices you're referring to in Tender... many voices and Dick's point of view... not sure in Dick's voice. Joyce was a big influence on Fitz, no doubt about it, but I dont think of Tender as a kind of Ulysses novel with many consciousness... more in common with Gatsby and Conrad where you get to see in Tender the actions of some people from diff points of view, at least two. I prefer the original Diver's point of view from Rosemary's point of view first before you find out info about them. Fitz at end of life expressed doubts at starting with Rosemary and would have started with story of Dick's life (what is part II of the novel)... artisticallly I think this not a good decision. By starting with Rosemary you get a very interesting way of looking at those characters before you meet them headon.. Very good technique. You want to find out about them because your getting her uninformed view of them.. Draws you into the story. Don't know what you mean by a large number of shifting narrative perspectives. Seems to me after we get away from Rosemary either from a fixed point of view or from an omniscient narrator. At other times when Fitzgerald telling you what someone is thinking... not same as Joyce who was dealing with multiple streams of consciousness and F not doing that. Lance says: In Tender is the Night, I noticed that the narrator aligns his sympathies with different main characters in each of the three books. Initially the narrator focuses on Rosemary, then Dick Diver, and finally on Nicole. Did Fitzgerald intentionally integrate this shifting into the novel, and if so, what did he intend by it? Bryer says: Yes. When the questioner focuses on Rosemary the narrator is her in the first section and the narrator focuses on Dick then as well because she is focused on him. In the second it deals with Dick's history and how we got there. If anything the question is more apt in terms of the 3rd section as Dick receeds more into the background. He starts as a great hero (advantage from seeing through Rosemary's eyes). The movement is from him as idealized to more realistic in 2 (when you find out the "facts" of his career) and in 3 he becomes eclipsed by Tommy and literally goes off center as well as figuratively. The aquaplaning scene is a good metaphor for Dick's decreasing centrality in the novel, he can't perform - figuratively and literally. Then that parade when you see the lone figure and that figure is Dick. Look at it sometime; it is a metaphor with Dick as the lone figure receeding into upstate NY. Shifting nature of the novel is a symbol of Dick's loss of vitality and youth. He fades from view literally and in terms of the novel's focus. Not shifting sympathies and in losing Dick's centralness to the novel. Doyle says: LAST QUESTION: What do you make of the authorial intrusions in Book I (chapter vi) and Book III (chapter iv) of Tender Is The Night, which read: "To resume Rosemary's point of view, it should be noted..." and "Regard them, for example..."? Bryer says: Those are vexing things.. in Last Tycoon too. I always have thought that those were unfortunate in a way. Signposts we don't need. A problem with Tender stylistically is that he does seem to be jumping around a lot in terms of what he sees and from whose point of view he sees it and he may have been conscious of that and that is why he made those phrases. Tender rewritten many times between '25 and '32 and kept certain sections and changed them and then published it. Till the end of life he felt like making changes. Might not have ironed out all the inconsistencies and shifts of point of view, etc. If he had had more time.. in debt to Scribners... may have rushed into print. Not a literary answer but may have something to do with it.