The Crack-Up Critical Reception History

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The Crack-Up Critical Reception History

“…it was funny coming into the hotel and the very deferential clerk not knowing that I was not only thousands, nay tens of thousands in debt, but had less than 40 cents cash in the world and probably a $13. deficit in the bank.” This entry in Scott Fitzgerald’s Notebooks, about the time he spent in Hendersonville, North Carolina – washing his own linen and living on canned meats and food (Cody) – is a good summation of the state he was in when he began to write his “Crack-Up” essays. Persuaded by Esquire editor Arnold Gingrich to write something to earn his advance from the magazine (Bitonti), Fitzgerald did just that and “The Crack-Up,” “Pasting it Together,” and “Handle with Care” appeared in the magazine in February, March, and April of 1936, respectively. The essays dealt with the “lesion of confidence” (Bruccoli 405) and the crippling sense of spiritual, authorial, and personal emptiness from which Fitzgerald was suffering during this period of his life. Their brutal honesty and the radical departure they meant for Fitzgerald as a literary figure elicited various reactions from his contemporaries and critics.

There was mixed initial reaction to the series of Esquire articles. The major positive initial reaction came from some of Fitzgerald’s old friends and fans, who implored him to both “cheer up, and … keep writing” (Prigozy 178). This response was offset by the troubles Fitzgerald’s literary agent, Harold Ober, soon found the essays created for his client. In the wake of the articles, “not only did [Fitzgerald] appear to be finished as a writer, but his name seemed to evoke shameful aspects of American experience” (Bruccoli 405). As a result, ...

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...mpanion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cambridge University

Press, 2002.

-This book has a great amount of information both in terms of analysis of FSF’s works, but also the ramifications their receptions had on FSF himself and on his career.

Bruccoli, Matthew J. Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York:

Harcourt & Brace, 1981.

-This is clearly the definitive work on FSF’s life. Bruccoli knows stuff about him that I doubt he knew about himself at the time. This is where to go for biographical information.

Bryer, Jackson R. The Critical Reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Maryland: Anchor Books,


-A good smattering of review segments from a variety of sources.

Cody, Michael. “Hendersonville, North Carolina and ‘The Crack-Up.’”

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