Celebrations and Conferences

FitzFest '96
Montgomery, Alabama

Sponsored by Huntingdon College, the first F. Scott and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Festival took place in Montgomery, Alabama, on 28 June-1 July 1996. Modeled loosely on the successful annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference in Oxford, Mississippi, FitzFest, as it quickly became known, was designed not as an academic conference, but as a broader celebration, particularly of the Fitzgeralds' ties to Montgomery and the South.

Using the Huntingdon campus as a base, FitzFest's organizers recruited support from the Montgomery community, including the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Participants attended lectures, shared meals, picnics, receptions, and a "Roaring Twenties" costume ball, and toured Fitzgerald sites in Montgomery. The Montgomery Museum presented an exhibition of Zelda Fitzgerald paintings, and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival staged a private reading of A Piece of Paradise, a new play about the Fitzgeralds in Montgomery, by Montgomery author Wayne Greenhaw. A Festival on the Green provided Twenties-era music, a modern dance performance, and an exhibition of automobiles from the Twenties and Thirties.

Presenters for FitzFest 96 were Prof. Wayne Flynt of Auburn University, who spoke on Montgomery history at the turn of the century; Profs. Judith Paterson and Jackson Bryer of the University of Maryland, Prof. James L. W. West III of Pennsylvania State University, and Prof. Alice Hall Petry of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, all of whom treated the fiction and careers of the Fitzgeralds; and Frances Kroll Ring, Fitzgerald's last personal secretary, who spoke about her relationship with him.

Encouraged by the turnout and by the spirit of celebration caught in the 1996 FitzFest, Huntingdon College and other sponsors have agreed to make the Fitzgerald Festival a recurrent event. The 1997 FitzFest will be held 20-23 June, and thereafter, the Montgomery celebration will be held on a biennial basis, in alternating years with conferences planned for other venues by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.

Richard Anderson
Huntingdon College

F. Scott Fitzgerald Centennial Celebration
St. Paul, Minnesota

Measured by the quality of events and the number and variety of participants, St. Paul's F. Scott Fitzgerald Centennial Celebration was a success that surpassed all previous efforts to honor the city's native son. Hundreds of volunteers as well as generous grants from area foundations helped make the week-long celebration the success it was; but it was the leadership and celebrity of Garrison Keillor that made it all possible.

The week began with the broadcasting on Monday and Tuesday, 23 and 24 September, of a two-part, locally-produced documentary, "Fitzgerald in St. Paul," narrated by Keillor on the local PBS radio station. The two-hour program included selections from Fitzgerald's writing read by Keillor and comments by Fitzgerald scholars, people who knew Fitzgerald, and relatives of Fitzgerald's St. Paul friends.

The lighting of a birthday cake at Landmark Center in the heart of downtown on 24 September, Fitzgerald's birthday, marked the official beginning of activities. For three days participants attended movies based on Fitzgerald writings, were treated to period music, learned dances from the 1920s, and listened to actors and writers read from Fitzgerald's work. These readings sparked controversy when it was learned that the festival's organizing committee had edited the readings to omit Fitzgerald words and expressions that might offend some listeners. Over the next several days, published letters to the editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune attacked the committee's action.

On Friday, a "Literary Festival" attended by more than 3,000 students and others offered concurrent activities, where festival- goers attended sessions with writers Michael Dorris, Donald Hall, Patricia Hampl, Joseph Heller, Eleanor Lanahan (a granddaughter of the Fitzgeralds), Bobbie Ann Mason, Jane Smiley, Tobias Wolff, Bill Holm, Robert Bly, or biographer Scott Donaldson). Other venues included sessions with Fitzgerald's secretary Frances Kroll Ring, two separate presentations on "Fitzgerald in St. Paul"--one by Lloyd Hackl and the other by John Koblas and Dave Page, and a presentation on "The Man Who Invented the Jazz Age" by Robert Sayre. During her talk, Lanahan shared memories of life with her mother, Scottie, and Ring spoke of her great affection for the writer she worked for during the last few years before his death.

At noon on Friday a ceremony marked the U.S. Postal Service's first-day issuance of the F. Scott Fitzgerald commemorative stamp and the dedication of a bronze statue of Fitzgerald that now stands in Rice Park in the heart of downtown. The statue is a slightly-larger-than-life-size rendering of Fitzgerald, a hatless figure with coat casually thrown over arm. In his remarks, sculptor Michael B. Price observed that he had placed the statue on ground level so that Fitzgerald would be accessible to everyone. During the evening Garrison Keillor moderated a panel discussion among festival celebrities, followed by a dinner and a parade of vintage automobiles around Rice Park and the Fitzgerald statue.

Fitzgerald statue by Michael B. Price, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Saturday featured a marathon reading of The Great Gatsby by visiting writers and many others in the Fitzgerald Theatre, formerly the World Theatre, which had been renamed in Fitzgerald's honor in 1995. From 10 A.M. until 3 P.M. readers mounted the stairs to the stage and took turns reading from the novel. In the evening, a special Fitzgerald edition of the PBS radio show The Prairie Home Companion was followed by a Great Gatsby Ball in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium featuring playwright-actor Sam Shepard, actress Jessica Lange, and jazz pianist Butch Thompson.

The festival was accompanied by the publication of three books: Fitzgerald: A Commemorative Publication; F. Scott Fitzgerald and St. Paul: "Still Home to Me" (Adventure Publications), an illustrated biography by Lloyd Hackl; and Toward the Summit: F. Scott Fitzgerald in St. Paul (North Star Press) by John Koblas and Dave Page.

Beginning in early September, twenty-five-cent trolley tours of Fitzgerald's St. Paul neighborhood were conducted every Saturday, with special tours operating on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the festival week. Throughout the month, first- edition Fitzgerald books, jazz-age photographs, and other memorabilia were on display. Between 19 September 1996 and 12 January 1997, the University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus, hosted an exhibition, "Coming Apart at the Seams: Style and the Social Fabric of the 1920s," featuring the "Fitzgerald look" and "telling the story of the 1920s as expressed in its dress and decorative arts."

Fitzgerald's return to his hometown in September 1996 was more than a conventional literary event. While writers, scholars, and general readers of Fitzgerald were in attendance, the celebration in St. Paul was remarkable in that it allowed thousands of high-school and college students from throughout the state to meet with nationally-known writers. This format seemed a fitting tribute to Fitzgerald who, as his St. Paul friend Alexandra Kalman once recalled, "Always had time for young writers."

Lloyd C. Hackl
Century College

Fitzgerald Society/
Princeton University Centennial Conference
Princeton, New Jersey

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society's 1996 conference, co-sponsored by Princeton University, was held on September 19 through 21 at Princeton University. Some 250 attended. Among the guests were Senator Eugene J. McCarthy; Eleanor Lanahan, one of Fitzgerald's granddaughters; Frances Ring, Fitzgerald's secretary in Hollywood; Robert Westbrook, son of Sheilah Graham; Honoria Murphy Donnelly, daughter of Sara and Gerald Murphy; and author Budd Schulberg. Conference co-chairs were Jackson R. Bryer (University of Maryland, College Park), President of the Fitzgerald Society; Alan Margolies (John Jay College, CUNY), Vice President; and Ruth Prigozy (Hofstra University), Executive Director.

Fitzgerald's novels were the subjects of two sessions on September 19. The first, moderated by Roger Lathbury (George Mason University), was devoted to This Side of Paradise. The session featured papers by Kirk Curnett (Troy State University), Robert A. Martin (Michigan State University), Walter Raubicheck (Pace University), and Stephen L. Tanner (Brigham Young University). The second session, "The Great Gatsby: New Approaches," was moderated by Heidi Kunz Bullock (Randolph-Macon Woman's College). Speakers included Matthew Elliot (University Park, Md.), who discussed national identity and race in the novel; Richard Kopley (Pennsylvania State University, Du Bois), who spoke about Gatsby's correspondences with nineteenth-century American literature; and Rama Nair (Osmania University, Hyderabad), who offered an Indian perspective on the novel.

Fitzgerald's short stories were the subject of two sessions on September 19, both sessions moderated by Peter L. Hays (University of California, Davis). At the first session, Kegan Doyle (Simon Fraser University) talked about "May Day," Frances Kerr (Durham Technical Community College) discussed "Gretchen's Forty Winks," S. S. Moorty (Southern Utah University) analyzed "The Swimmers," and Mark Shipman (Tarleton State University) commented on "Crazy Sunday." During the second session Robin Gajdusek (San Francisco State University) offered an approach to Tales of the Jazz Age, B. McMullen (Oxford University) talked about "Absolution," Mary McAleer Balkun (Seton Hall University) spoke about the "Josephine" stories, and Sawako Taniyama (Hyogo-ken, Japan) discussed the theme of covetousness in three Fitzgerald stories.

On September 19, "Fitzgerald and Other Writers," chaired by George Wickes (University of Oregon, Eugene), featured Douglas E. LaPrade (University of Texas-Pan American) discussing Petrarchism and Pragmatism in Fitzgerald's works, John M. Gill treating the relationship of Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" to The Great Gatsby, Jane Vogel (Ithaca College) defining sources for Gatsby's innocence, and Robert D. Cowser (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) describing the shared world of Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton. "Theoretical and Psychological Approaches to Fitzgerald," a session chaired by Bryant Mangum (Virginia Commonwealth University), featured Andrew R. Grobman (Northeastern University), who offered a psychoanalytical analysis of Amory Blaine; Bruce Gilman (Salem State College), who discussed narcissism in Fitzgerald's youthful characters; Michael Nowlin (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), who talked about a castration motif in The Beautiful and Damned; and Jonathan Fegley (Macon College), who commented on Bakhtinian indeterminacy and open-endedness in Fitzgerald's novels.

The "Biography" session moderated by H. R. Stoneback (SUNY, New Paltz) also convened on September 19. Seymour I. Toll (Cynwyd, Pa.) spoke about the relationship between Fitzgerald and Judge John Biggs Jr., P. Keith Gammons (University of North Carolina, Greensboro) discussed the influence of the South on Fitzgerald, and Jonathan Schiff (Albany, N.Y.) traced the motif of the "replacement child" in Fitzgerald's fiction. A session devoted to "Theatre and Film," moderated by Jeanne Fuchs (Hofstra University), featured Edward J. Rielly (St. Joseph's College, Me.), who commented on Fitzgerald's dramatic purpose; Richard Pioreck (Hofstra University), who spoke about The Vegetable; as well as the papers of Richard Davison (University of Delaware), which focused on Budd Schulberg's The Disenchanted, and Wheeler Winston Dixon (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), which examined Fitzgerald's cinematic vision.

Other presentations on September 19 included a talk by Frances Ring (Beverly Hills) about her memories of Fitzgerald; a showing of the TV film about Fitzgerald, Marked for Glory, with introduction by the scriptwriter Gwinn Owens (Baltimore); a showing of the film An Author's Mother by Mark Axelrod (Chapman University), introduced by Ruth Prigozy; and a dramatic presentation of scenes from a stage adaptation of Tender Is the Night by writer and producer Simon Levy (Los Angeles).

On September 20, Scott Donaldson (College of William & Mary) moderated a session on Tender Is the Night with the following speakers and paper titles: Betty H. McFarland (Appalachian State University), "Nicole's Angle: From 'Dicole' to Warren Woman"; Stephen M. Brauer (New York University), "'Diving into the Wreck': Intersections of Crime in Tender Is the Night"; Peter S. Taback (City College, CUNY), "Why Dick Diver Can't Keep Help"; and Ned Sparrow (Baltimore, Md.), "When Romantic Swords Cede to World War Gunshots." Papers in a session on The Last Tycoon, prepared by Robert Merrill (University of Nevada, Reno) and moderated by Alan Margolies, included "Fitzgerald's Last Tycoon and Final Style," by Milton R. Stern (University of Connecticut, Storrs); "Tycoon, Scott, Mummy, and Me: New Edition, Old Aesthetic," by Jeffrey Carroll (University of Hawaii, Manoa); "The Fall of a Stahr: The Function of the Myth of Icarus in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon," by David J. Partie (Lynchburg, Va.); and "Hollywood: A New Dreamland for Fitzgerald's America," by Aiping Zhang (California State University, Chico).

"The Short Stories and `The Crack-Up'" was the subject of a September 20 session moderated by Peter L. Hays and featuring papers by Nancy Van Arsdale (East Stroudsburg University), Joyce B. Anderson (Millersville University), D. Quentin Miller (University of Connecticut, Storrs), and J. Gerald Kennedy (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge). During a concurrent session, "Textuality/Intertextuality and F. Scott Fitzgerald," moderated by Ronald Berman (University of California, San Diego), David Stouck and Janet Giltrow (both from Simon Fraser University) talked about echolalia in Gatsby, Veronica Makowsky (University of Connecticut, Storrs) discussed William Faulkner and Fitzgerald, and Gautam Kundu (Georgia Southern University) commented on the possible influence of Willa Cather on Fitzgerald.

Two sessions on "Fitzgerald and American Culture" were also offered on September 20. The first, moderated by Benita Moore (Teikyo Marycrest University), included "Thalia Does the Hoochie-Coochie: Humor in the Fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald," by D. G. Kehl (University of Arizona, Tempe); "Out of Minnesota," by James D. Bloom (Muhlenberg College); and "The Great Gatsby: A Musical Soundtrack," a presentation with music by Anthony J. Berret (St. Joseph's University, Pa.). The second session, moderated by Neila C. Seshachari (Weber State University), presented M. Thomas Inge (Randolph-Macon College) speaking on "Fitzgerald in the Funny Papers: Commentary of Mickey Mouse and Charlie Brown"; Dana Brand (Hofstra University) discussing "Fitzgerald, Elegance, and the Aesthetics of Modernity"; Al Elmore (Athens State College) talking about "Magic as Metaphor in Fitzgerald's Fiction"; and John B. Chambers (American University of Bulgaria) treating "Fitzgerald's Heroes and American Society."

"Fitzgerald and War" was the subject of another session offered on September 20. Moderated by Donald Noble (University of Alabama) with Bickford Sylvester (University of British Columbia) as respondent, the session offered papers by Todd H. Stebbins (William Penn College), Frederick Wegener (Forest Hills, N.Y.), Kim Moreland (George Washington University), and Diane Isaacs (Fordham University). A session moderated by George Wickes was devoted to "Fitzgerald and Other Writers." John F. Callahan (Lewis and Clark College) spoke about Fitzgerald and Ralph Ellison; Lawrence Broer and Gloria Holland (both of the University of South Florida) compared Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby and Norman Mailer's An American Dream; Dianne Timblin (Caldwell Community College) commented on Fitzgerald and Raymond Carver; and Toshifumi Miyawaki (Seikei University, Tokyo) discussed Fitzgerald and Haruki Murakami.

Other events on September 20 included "Fitzgerald at Princeton," an hour-long presentation with slides by Anne Margaret Daniel (Princeton University) of Princeton life during the years that Fitzgerald was in attendance; "Fitzgerald in Baltimore," a slide presentation by Joan Hellman (Catonsville Community College); and "A Conversation" among John Kuehl (New York University), Eleanor Lanahan (Burlington, Vt.), and Robert Westbrook (Taos, N.M.). A reception at Cottage Club catered by Laura Donnelly (Southhampton, N.Y.) featured foods that her grandparents, Sara and Gerald Murphy, served at similar parties. An evening session, "Contemporary American Writers Talk About Fitzgerald," moderated by Jackson R. Bryer, spotlighted authors Thomas Flanagan (East Setauket, N.Y.), George Garrett (University of Virginia), Edmund Keeley (Princeton University), and Hugh Nissenson (New York City).

On September 21, The Beautiful and Damned was the subject of a session moderated by Catherine Burroughs (Cornell College) and featuring papers by Barry Gross (Michigan State University) and Timothy Martin (U.S. Air Force Academy). A second session on Fitzgerald's novels, "The Great Gatsby: Language and Literary Style," was moderated by Richard Anderson (Huntington College) and included papers by Dan Coleman (Cornell University), Betty J. Cortright (University of South Florida), Joan Hellman, and Gail D. Sinclair (Maitland, Fla.). A session on the Pat Hobby stories moderated by Lauraleigh O'Meara (Arizona State University) offered four papers: "Pat Hobby--`A Good Man for Structure,'" by Christopher Ames (Agnes Scott College); "Tune in Next Month: Fitzgerald's Pat Hobby and the Popular Series," by Timothy Prchal (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee); "Fitzgerald's Hemingway: The Debunking Last Word of `Two Old-Timers,'" by Greg Metcalf (University of Maryland, Baltimore); and "Hollywood and Illusion in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Pat Hobby Stories and The Love of the Last Tycoon," by Douglas G. Baldwin (Yale University).

Fitzgerald's foreign reputation was the topic on September 21 of two sessions moderated by Linda Stanley. Speakers in the first session included A. D. Hook (University of Glasgow), Sergio Perosa (Universita degli Studi di Venezia), Qing Qian (Beijing Foreign Studies University), and Claus Secher (Danmarks Biblioteksskole, Copenhagen). Those who participated in the second session included Udo Hebel (University of Potsdam), A. D. Hook, Somdatta Mandel (University of Calcutta), Miriam Mandel (Tel Aviv University), Sergio Perosa, Qing Qian, Claus Secher, Kiyohiko Tsuboi (Okayama University), and Svetlana Voitiuk (University of L'viv). The panel, "Editing Fitzgerald," moderated by John Bryant (Hofstra University), featured James L. W. West III (Pennsylvania State University) and Horst H. Kruse (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster). A third panel on "Fitzgerald and Other Writers," moderated by George Wickes, included Edward Gillin (SUNY, Geneseo), who spoke on "Princeton, Pragmatism, and Fitzgerald's Sentimental Journey"; Ted Billy (St. Mary's College, Ind.), who talked about "Lawrencean Subtext in Tender Is the Night"; and Steven Goldleaf (Pace University), whose topic was "A Twice-told Tale: Fitzgerald's `Three Hours Between Planes' and O'Hara's `Trouble in 1949.'" "Individual Responses to Fitzgerald," a session prepared by Donald Junkins (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and moderated by Marie Ahearn (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth), included papers by John T. Irwin (Johns Hopkins University), Howard R. Wolf (SUNY, Buffalo), and Eduardo Ribiero (University of Porto, Portugal).

Other presentations on September 21 included a session titled "Memories of Fitzgerald" moderated by Linda Patterson Miller (Pennsylvania State University, Ogontz)
Left to Right: Honoria Murphy Donelly, Fanny Myers Brennan, Tony Buttitta, Frances Kroll Ring,
Linda P. Miller, and Bud Schulberg
. Speakers were Fanny Myers Brennan (New York City), Tony Buttitta (New York City), Honoria M. Donnelly (Southhampton, N.Y.), Frances Ring, and Budd Schulberg. Morris Dickstein (Queens College and Graduate Center, NY) spoke about Fitzgerald during a lunch session; Alan Margolies moderated "On Teaching Fitzgerald," a discussion session prepared by James J. Martine (St. Bonaventure University); and Honoria M. Donnelly and Fanny Myers Brennan participated in a slide presentation, "Fitzgerald on the Riviera."

The conference closed on the evening of September 21 with a reception at Firestone Library where an exhibition of Fitzgerald papers and associated materials had been on display since May 1996. The reception was followed by a banquet at which John F. Callahan introduced the featured speaker Senator Eugene McCarthy. On the morning of September 22, those still in attendance participated in tours of the Princeton campus (with emphasis on Fitzgerald) led by Alfred L. Bush (Princeton University Library).

Alan Margolies
John Jay College, CUNY

First Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference
Rockville, Maryland

The First Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference, part of Rockville's year-long F. Scott Fitzgerald Centennial Celebration, took place at Montgomery College, Rockville, Md., on 28 September 1996. Although Fitzgerald never lived in Rockville, as a boy he visited his father's relatives at their nearby farm, Locust Grove, in Montgomery County and, in 1903, was a "ribbon holder" at his cousin Cecilia Delihant's wedding at her home in Randolph Station, south of Rockville. In 1931 he traveled from Paris to attend his father's funeral at Rockville's St. Mary's Church. His father was buried beside other members of the family in St. Mary's cemetery. Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald were first buried in Rockville Union Cemetery. In 1975 they were reinterred at St. Mary's cemetery and, in 1986, their daughter, Scottie, was buried in the family plot.

The conference began with a showing of Marked for Glory, a 1963 documentary film about Fitzgerald, introduced by producer and writer Gwinn Owens (Baltimore). The documentary was followed by a panel discussion, "F. Scott Fitzgerald at 100," moderated by Jackson R. Bryer (University of Maryland, College Park), with panelists Earl Harbert (Northeastern University), James L. W. West III (Pennsylvania State University), Ruth Prigozy (Hofstra University), and Kim Moreland (George Washington University).

Events during the afternoon included fiction workshops with writers Alan Cheuse (George Mason University), Maxine Clair (George Washington University), Patricia Browning Griffith (George Washington University), William Loizeaux (The Writer's Center, Bethesda, Md.), and Susan Richards Shreve (George Mason University), as well as a slide presentation by Joan E. Hellman (Catonsville Community College), "F. Scott Fitzgerald in Baltimore." These sessions were followed by a panel discussion, "How to Get Published," moderated by Allan Lefcowitz (The Writer's Center, Bethesda, Md.), with panelists Marie Arana-Ward (Deputy Editor, Washington Post Book World), literary agent Timothy Seldes (Russell & Volkening, New York City), and Jack Shoemaker (Editor-in Chief, Counterpoint Publishers, Washington, D.C.). Scheduled for the same hour was a showing of Three Comrades, the only movie for which Fitzgerald received screenwriting credit; the movie was introduced by Alan Margolies (John Jay College, CUNY).

The final events of the day were the presentation of the First Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Award to author William Styron and the announcement of the winner of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest, Jeff Minerd (Baltimore, Md.) for "Stepping Off." Minerd read his story, and the conference concluded with William Styron's reading of a brief tribute to Fitzgerald as well as a section from his 1979 novel Sophie's Choice.

Alan Margolies
John Jay College, CUNY

"Fortunes and Misfortunes
in the Life and Times of F. Scott Fitzgerald"
Rome, Italy

On 11 and 12 October an international conference to celebrate the centennial of the birth of F. Scott Fitzgerald was held in Rome. Conceived by Prof. Doc Rossi of John Cabot University in Rome and by Mattia Carratello, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of Rome III, the conference aimed to delineate Fitzgerald's status among Italian readers and critics specifically and among American and international commentators in general. The conference's title accommodated papers treating social history, cinema, music, and other arts in relation to Fitzgerald's work, as well as biographical and literary topics. The conference was organized jointly by Prof. Rossi, Prof. Ugo Rubeo of the University of Rome "La Sapienza," and Dr. Daniele Fiorentino, Director of the American Studies Center in Rome.

Front of schedule for the Centennial Conference, Rome
The conference was opened by Prof. Biancamaria Pisapia, Chairman of the English Department at "La Sapienza," where the first session, chaired by Prof. Rossi, was held. Prof. Caterina Ricciardi of the University of Tuscia-Viterbo presented a paper on Fitzgerald's response to Rome. Recalling the writer's two unpleasant visits to the Eternal City, Prof. Ricciardi suggested that Fitzgerald's time there marked the end of his dream of Rome. In "The Decadent Legacy of The Beautiful and Damned," Prof. Patrick Quinn of Nene College at Northampton examined Fitzgerald's early novel in the context of the nineteenth-century English decadent tradition reflected in Wilde's plays and Beardsley's short stories.

"'The Money Swing': The Life and Times of F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Poetry of Anne Sexton" by Dr. Emma Marras Giannone examined the connection Sexton makes between her own life and times and those of Fitzgerald and his generation. In "Two Gatsbys: Translation Theory as an Aid to Understanding," Iain Halliday of the University of Catania and the University of Warwick considered two Italian translations of The Great Gatsby, Fernanda Pivano's of 1950 and Tommaso Pisanti's of 1989. Halliday declared that Fitzgerald's acute awareness of the contradictions of life and language renders his writing particularly appropriate for translation theory, which is concerned with the multifaceted potential of language. The first session was closed by Prof. Pietro De Logu, the University of Padova and the University of Venice, who treated "F. Scott Fitzgerald: Mythic Hero of the Jazz Age" and gave a synopsis of Fitzgerald criticism in Italy up to the early 1960s and the publication of Sergio Perosa's The Art of F. Scott Fitzgerald. De Logu argued that, following in the tradition of nineteenth-century novelists, Fitzgerald sought to provide a moral interpretation of his time, an emphasis that attracted many Italians--for political and literary reasons--to American Literature during the post-World War II years.

After a reception at Villa Mirafiori, the afternoon session, chaired by Prof. Rubeo, was held at the National Library, where Italian translations of Fitzgerald's works were on display. This exhibition, curated by Maria Grazia Villani, also included photos, reviews, and bibliographical information showing the literary fortunes of Fitzgerald in Italy. Journalist and critic Piero Sanavio began the session with a paper on Fitzgerald's politics, which he depicted as mainly confused, growing out of naivete or lack of concern on the writer's part. This view was countered by Prof. Winifred Farrant Bevilacqua, the University of Torino, whose "Chronotopes in The Great Gatsby" used Bakhtin's conception of the chronotope to explore Fitzgerald's world view and vision of humanity in The Great Gatsby. In "Fitzgerald's Novelistic Modes in Tender Is the Night," Prof. Charles Etheridge, McMurry University, maintained that the often-noted "divided vision" or dual voice in Fitzgerald's fiction is directly attributable to competing novelistic modes present in his work. Closing the session Dr. Karin Badt of the American University of Paris argued, in "The Desecration of American Culture in F. Scott Fitzgerald and 1940s American Cinema," that the femme fatale in Fitzgerald's novels is similar to the portrayal of the amoral woman in the Hollywood film noir.

Three events on the first evening were sponsored by the Comune di Roma and held in the small theater of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. A showing of the 1949 film of The Great Gatsby was followed by the presentation of an ambitious new literature and arts magazine called Praz!, named after the noted Italian scholar Mario Praz. Praz! Managing Director Giorgio Minuti was joined in a discussion of the magazine's design and future plans by Prof. Pisapia, Paola Colaiacomo of "La Sapienza," and Viola Papetti of Rome III. The final event of the evening was an homage to Fitzgerald that featured music of Joplin, Gershwin, and Monk directed by Francesca Gatto and that concluded in readings from "Afternoon of an Author," letters to and from Scottie Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald's fiction.

The morning session on the second day, held at John Cabot University and chaired by Prof. Pisapia, began with Prof. Rossi's "Fantasies and Fools: Allegory in Fitzgerald's Short Stories." Rossi argued that for Fitzgerald the material of a work is not as important as its tone, air, or aspect, its imaginative handling of details and their nuances. Rossi pointed out that Fitzgerald tried to make readers aware of a "suggested world," which he approached through the use of allegorical techniques, not by writing allegories per se but by suggesting allegorical interpretation through fragmentation and parody of allegory. The next five speakers presented their papers in Italian, all of them concerned with different aspects of The Love of the Last Tycoon. Prof. Rubeo, presented "The Crack-Up: autobiografia d'un moderno" (The Crack Up: Autobiography of a Modern), which focused on the central role these "narrative pieces" play in the final works of Fitzgerald's career, particularly Tycoon. Seeing the first-person narrators Nick Carraway and the voice of The Crack-Up as direct precursors of Cecilia Brady, Rubeo argued that Fitzgerald envisioned Brady as the most complex of his narrators because she has the capacity for a modernistic, disjunctive assemblage of the action (reflecting the frequent fragmentation and time shifts in Carraway's recollection) as well as the capacity to look at oneself with absolute coolness (reflecting the narrator of The Crack-Up).

The poet Anna Cascella, who published the 1995 critical work I colori di gatsby: lettra di fitzgerald (The Colors of Gatsby: Readings on Fitzgerald), read "Alcuni riflessioni su The Last Tycoon" (Some Reflections on The Last Tycoon), which concentrated on air, and what is carried in it, as a symbol of the "internal space" of travel and on water as a symbol of both destruction and regeneration. Using Fitzgerald's linguistic structure to examine the semiotics of light-, sound-, and heat-waves in the text, Cascella drew attention to his use of the word fuselage, which links the internal space of Stahr's house with that of the airplane or "flying seed" of the first chapter, foretelling Stahr's death in a voyage "by air."

Continuing the session, Prof. Alessandro Gebbia of "La Sapienza" delivered "Shoot! and The Last Tycoon," a paper comparing a novel by Luigi Pirandello and the unfinished novel by Fitzgerald. Drawing attention to structural and thematic resemblance between Shoot! and Tycoon, Gebbia maintained that Pirandello and Fitzgerald seized the cinema's secrets and techniques, which they appropriated into their own aesthetics for the novel. Prof. Michele Bottalico of the University of Bari presented "L'illusione del mito: Hollywood in The Love of the Last Tycoon" (The Illusion of the Myth:The Love of the Last Tycoon), which argued that Fitzgerald's portrayal of Hollywood in this work is almost completely negative. To close the morning session, Prof. Agostino Lombardo of "La Sapienza" presented "Il capolavoro incompiuto di F. Scott Fitzgerald" (The Unfinished Masterpiece of . . .). Prof. Lombardo argued for seeing Tycoon as a masterwork even in its incomplete state.

After another reception, the conference reconvened at the American Studies Center where Dr. Fiorentino introduced the keynote speaker, Matthew J. Bruccoli, Jefferies Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, whose appearances at the Rome conference and at a 14 October symposium at the University of Milan were sponsored by the United States Information Service. Responding to the title of the conference, Prof. Bruccoli suggested that Fitzgerald's misfortunes were few: his alcoholism, which has been over-emphasized, and Zelda's health problems, which colored his entire career. Fitzgerald's fortunes, on the other hand, were many. Calling him a supreme stylist of American Literature, Bruccoli described him not as a Modernist experimenting with form or time, but as a master of narrative shaped by nineteenth-century values, who--as Lionel Trilling observed--depicted life committed to a purpose or thrown away for the sake of an ideal. Taking a stand against the notion that Fitzgerald's short stories were nothing more than hack work intended to support his serious work of novel writing, Bruccoli portrayed Fitzgerald as a serious artist operating in a commercial world, juggling the claims of art with the claims of the marketplace.

After Prof. Bruccoli's talk, Prof. Lombardo chaired a roundtable discussion that included Profs. Bruccoli, Quinn, Etheridge, De Logu, and Dr. Sanavio. The two primary issues that emerged were critical approaches to The Love of the Last Tycoon as a novel, since Fitzgerald left it unfinished, and Fitzgerald as Modernist or continuer of the nineteenth-century narrative tradition. While Etheridge pointed out that Fitzgerald's technical experiments with point of view place him firmly in the Modernist camp, Bruccoli maintained that Fitzgerald was a story teller whose narrative technique is far removed from that of, say, Joyce.

The conference produced papers ranging from traditional literary scholarship to interdisciplinary topics, giving an idea of the variety of interests engaging (the mainly) European scholars of American literature and culture. Speakers examined aspects of Fitzgerald's style and narrative technique, noting the critical voice that comes out of his juxtapositions of characters and scenes. Moreover, continuing the work of early Fitzgerald champions like Wilson, Cowley, Trilling, or Perosa, scholars are rediscovering the command Fitzgerald had over his art.

Doc Rossi
John Cabot University

F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Celebration
The University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina

The material above first appeared in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1996 (Detroit, Washington, D.C., London: Bruccoli Clark Layman/Gale Research, 1997). Reproduced by permission.

Fitzgerald Centenary Comments

This page updated 17 November 1997.
Copyright 1997, the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
URL http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/centenary/celebrations.html