Tag Archives: F. Scott Fitzgerald

For What its Worth

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Don’t Worry About It

I came across this very sweet and sentimental post at Lists of Note about a list F. Scott Fitzgerald made to his daughter Scottie in a letter in 1933.

Despite his own struggles with alcoholism, his writing talent shines even in a letter to his daughter. In a way, this list reminds of Polonius’ speech to his son, in Hamlet, “neither a borrower nor a lender be…”

I think these are good rules of thumb to live by. I’m really glad I came across post, because I didn’t even know a book of Fitzgerald’s letters even existed. I really need to get my hands on a copy.

In 1933, renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie, with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows.

(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald with his daughter, Scottie, in 1924.)

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

Daddy

Currently Reading pt 2

My list of books I’m currently reading changes as frequently as I change my shirt. I’ve been very indecisive about books these past few weeks. I pick something up, only to put it back down after a few chapters. Between full time work and graduate school, my mental capacity to read full novels is on minimum impulse right now.

But, lo and behold, I have found a couple of books that have managed to keep my interest for more than the first few chapters.

1. Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

(it is really refreshing to read his short stories. I had Great Gatsby drilled into my brain in AP English class my senior year of high school, and although that novel is the apex of literary greatness of the 20th century, according to my teacher, I find that I enjoy Fitzgerald’s short stories more. Each character is different, each has his own story of self-preservation and perseverance in this rough and materialistic world).

2. By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho

(This book I picked up on my way out to lunch, and I haven’t been able to put it down. At its basic level it is a love story, it is a love story that the readers know from the beginning will end tragically, but it is written beautifully and with realistic colloquial language that makes it a book that any reader can pick up and empathize with.)

Its nicer being out a book rut than being in one. Now the problem is just to make time for everything.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I’ve been hearing this title thrown around a lot in the media, mostly due to the new Brad Pitt movie. I didn’t really know the plot though, just that it was a movie he was working on. I saw the title on a bookshelf, and that caught my interest. I saw that it was a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and that really piqued my attention.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a story of a person who is born at at almost 60 years of age during the Antebellum in Baltimore. As the years go by, Benjamin grows younger and younger until finally hitting his infancy.

Its written by Fitzgerald, so of course it is a social commentary smorgasboard. When Benjamin is first born, he is treated terribly, by his parents, and by the city residents. As a 60 year old man, his father buys him a rattle and makes him play with childish toys when Benjamin has the mental capacity of a 60 year old man. As Benjamin devolves, his way of thinking devolves too. It is interesting that when Benjamin is 18, and looks 50, he gets married. he has a son Roscoe. Benjamin is successful on all counts, and is a charming and optimistic man. He fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

I found it amusing that as he got younger his wife blamed it on Benjamin just being “stubborn” and not trying to stop it, as if it was something in his control. He was “being different” on purpose.

As Benjamin got younger, his son Roscoe, eventually became his guardian. Roscoe looked at Benjamin with such disdain.

It seems that anyone under the age of 16 and anyone over the age of 40 leave a blemish on society. When Benjamin was 20, he was a Harvard football hero. At 5, he was playing with strips of colored paper and was near neglected by his own son, who demaned that Benjamin call him “Uncle” instead of Roscoe.

Benjamin did live a full life, he just lived it backwards. Is that maybe not a more peaceful way to go? Benjamin’s birth and his death mirror each other in how he was treated by family, and also reflects how society in general treats family. The life Benjamin lived show that society is quick to forget something, until it can be used as rumor or gossip.

This is a long post. This was a short read, but a good read. I hope the rest of Tales of the Jazz Age will be just as fun to analyze.

Find this book at your local library