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Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F.Scott Fitzgerald [Paperback]

Matthew J. Bruccoli
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jun 2002
The standard work on Fitzgerald, revised, enlarged, and updated; Since its first publication in 1981, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur has stood apart from other biographies of F. Scott Fitzgerald for its thoroughness and volume of information. It is regarded today as the basic work on Fitzgerald and the preeminent source for the study of the novelist. In this second revised edition, Matthew J. Bruccoli provides new evidence discovered since its original edition. This new edition of Some Sort of Epic Grandeur improves, augments, and updates the standard biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F.Scott Fitzgerald + Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
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Product details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (30 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570034559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570034558
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 460,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Matthew J. Bruccoli is always able to look through the events themselves to the essential fact about Fitzgerald: his existence as an artist, and not only to how it came about, but what it came to. Some sort of epic grandeur is exactly what Fitzgerald had. It is a perfect title for this book, for the grandeur is there, in the struggle to create memorable work. I fully expect that this will be the indispensable biography of a very great American writer, for the spirit of the man is in the facts, and these, as gathered and marshaled by Bruccoli over thirty years, are all we will ever need. But more important, they are what we need." - James Dickey; "Impeccably researched...both comprehensive and judicious... Bruccoli brings Fitzgerald vividly alive." - Newsweek; "This masterpiece contains exactly what we need to know about this dazzling figure." - Publishers Weekly; "It is difficult to imagine any work on Fitzgerald and his literary product that will supplant this one." - The New Yorker; "Indispensable and definitive." - The Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Matthew J. Bruccoli, the Emily Brown Jefferies Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, is the leading authority on F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has written and edited more than fifty volumes in the field of American literature, a score of them dealing with Fitzgerald.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
F. Scott Fitzgerald, an unemployed screenwriter, spent 21 December 1940 with his companion, Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham, at 1443 North Hayworth Avenue in Hollywood. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Definitive Delight 26 April 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is very much a biography of F Scott Fitzgerald the writer, rather than F Scott Fitzgerald the husband, or drunk, or party animal. It is full of fascinating details on how he conceived, planned and composed his work, as well as on the more practical side of his writing life, like his relationship with his publisher, Max Perkins, and agent, Harold Ober, his contracts with publishers and Hollywood studios, earnings and so on.

This is a good thing. In hearing so much about what Fizgerald is infamous for, one can overlook the fact that, when he actually got around to working, he was a resourceful, meticulous and highly disciplined professional writer. This book brings that out very well. It's touching, in fact, to see to what pains he went in even the most trivial magazine stories that he had to churn out to keep and Zelda and him in the style of life they required. It's sad as well, of course, because you start to wonder how many Gatsbys he might have written if he had not had to write those stories. But even here the book has something to surprise us, as it shows clearly that he could never have lived on his masterpieces anyway. In 1929, for example, he was earning $4,000 a story but his income from all his novels was something less than $1000 in that year.

Unlike many other "definitive" biographies, this book is never too dry, long or detailed. Bruccoli's style is lucid and relaxed but always serious. His tone is pitch perfect, as he modulates between glowing admiration for the author and sorrowful concern for the man - the latter, however, with not a hint of prudish indignation or condescension in it.

It is a complete delight from start to finish.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 9 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this book. If like me you are studying one of Fitzgerald's novels then this is a must. Great insight into the author, his life and his writing. Its really well
written, a joy to read.Really useful for essays on Fitzgerald's literature e.g. "The Great Gatsby", I got some fab quotes. My copy is second hand,£9.00, it arrived in excellent condition saving me £20.00 on new price.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography 23 May 2004
By Candace Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've admired Fitzgerald all my life and regard his work as singularly underrated as time goes on. He was a brilliant and witty writer who could turn a phrase as well as any American author of the 20th century. This biography is the best I've ever read on Fitzgerald. It's particularly strong in the depiction of his gaudy, booze-soaked life with Zelda, especially when they were ex-pats living in France. Bruccoli really draws the reader in with deft descriptions of their marital rows, woes, break-ups and innumerable reconcilations. I was happy to see that their daughter, Scottie, was also illuminated so brilliantly.
The material on Sheila Graham, Scott's lover in Hollywood, was also intriguing. Graham's own book about Scott is a great read, but the author brings out elements to the story which Graham omitted. I was genuinely sad when Scott dies and the narrative concludes. The debauchery, booze and high times of the Flapper era are all here. This is a highly recommended, beautifully tribute to one of the great writers of the past 100 years.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Kind of Wonderful 12 July 2006
By Fitzgerald Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am an absolute diehard fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, both his life and his literature. So, I knew when I purchased this book I was bound to scrutinize its every nook and cranny. Well, my scrutiny proved to be a wasted effort. Without question, Matthew Bruccoli is the number one Fitzgerald scholar in the country, and after reading this biography, it is impossible to question why.
Bruccoli covers every aspect of Fitzgerald's life and includes several bits of correspondence to really give readers a look inside Fitzgerald's thinking. --Perhaps my favorite thing about the book is that it does not sentimentalize the author (which I myself have a habit of doing). Fitzgerald is spelled out here in all his glory, yet, we also get to see his unflattering side...paranoia, arrogance, unharnessed alcoholism, and downright neurosis.
F Scott Fitzgerald was a brilliant man whose life became legend. It is my humble opinion that Bruccoli has written the most thorough and best possible biography. Simply put, the read is fascinating. It might be 600 pages, but you will fly through it. It is "never dry" (like Fitzgerald :)) and always entertaining. For Fitzgerald fanatics like myself, this book is a must, but I am convinced that anyone who takes to "human interest" stories would find themselves engulfed in its pages.
Also recommended: "The Romantic Egoists"...a scrapbook collection put together concerning the lives of the Fitzgeralds. It is packed with pictures and is a wonderful companion to the biography. It was also published by Bruccoli.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and honest - excellent! 20 Jun 1999
By langw@bc.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
From the preeminent Fitzgerald scholar Matthew Bruccoli, this book's remarkable thoroghness and honesty is refreshing. Bruccoli gives the oft misunderstood Fitzgerald a human, albeit, reverent study, exploring beyond the overemphasized alcoholism into the realms of insecurity and sensitivity that had an indelible effect on Fitzgerald's work. The book reads well, without the burden of overly scholarly analysis, making it suitable reading either for doctoral study or simply for a summer beach day.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference Book but Choppy on Its Own as a Story 18 Dec 2005
By J. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought this book and read it before reading any of the works of F. Scott Fitgerald.

The book opens with an interesting literary hook as we follow the last few hours in the life of Fitzgerald on December 21, 1940. He is an unemployed screen writer living in Hollywood at the apartment of his companion Sheilah Graham. On the previous day, he had symptoms of a heart problem. That morning on the 21st, he was working on "The Last Tycoon." He was sitting in a chair, stood up, grasped the mantlepiece, collapsed, and died at age 44.

That book is one of seemingly dozens of short stories on F. Scott, Zelda his wife, and others. The book is not a seamless story but is a chronoligcal collection of short - almost disconnected - stories about his life and works.

It is an excellent reference book to consult as you read the works of Fitzgerald. I found the book on its own too dry with too many facts and it gives no idea of what the writing was like. It was not until I read "This Side of Paradise" did I understand what all the fuss was about with F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it was at that point the present biography came to life. For example, I quote a passage from Chapter 2 of Book I, as Amory sits on the steps of his dorm at Princeton after his first day on campus:

"Now, far down the shadowy line of University Place a white-clad phalanx broke the gloom, and marching figures, white-shirted, white-trousered, swung rhythmically up the street, with linked arms and heads thrown back:

"Going back-going back,
Going-back-to-Nas-sau-Hall,
Going back-going back-
To the-Best-Old-Place-of-All.
Going back-going back,
From all-this-earth-ly-ball,
We'll-clear-the-track-as-we-go-back-
Going-back-to-Nas-sau-Hall!"

Amory closed his eyes as the ghostly procession drew near. The song soared so high that all dropped out except the tenors, who bore the melody triumphantly past the danger-point and relinquished it to the fantastic chorus. Then Amory opened his eyes, half afraid that sight would spoil the rich illusion of harmony."

One learns more about Fitgerald's writing from that passage than the entire biography.

Having said the above, this is a fact filled reference book that acts as a wondeful guide and supplement to the F. Scott's life and the background for the works. There are many photographs and other documents among the 61 short chapters. I especially liked the ledger notes that were kept by Fitzgerald that clearly outline the characters and plot details for the books. Bruccoli has included a huge notes section and appendix at the back of the book, about 100 illustrations, plus many more documents. I have read many interpretations of "Tender is the Night" but it is a lot clearer when you actually read the author's own notes as produced here in the present biography.

Highly recommend: excellent collection of short stories and documents.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding biography 13 Feb 2006
By William E. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent biography, full of a great wealth of detail. In truth, Fitzgerald is a pretty easy biographical subject, because his fiction was so closely based on his own life and experiences and because he wrote so many letters and kept such detailed notebooks and ledgers accounting for his own life. He also had relationships with many people (Zelda, other writers, etc.) who left behind many accounts of him. Still, Bruccoli does an extremely thorough job and the book is very well-written.

I would give it five stars except for an extremely irritating tendency Bruccoli has to be dismissive of almost all of Fitzgerald's short stories. Bruccoli is way too arrogant about pronouncing dozens of the stories F. Scott wrote as being "minor," or "disappointing," or even "embarrassing," while reserving his praise for a select few, such as "May Day" and "The Rich Boy." Personally, having read every one of FSF's currently collected short stories (well over 100 in all), I don't rate "May Day" or "The Rich Boy" very highly, but I love lots and lots of the "commercial" ones Bruccoli dismisses. I think he should leave the assessment of which stories are good up to the reader. Bruccoli's literary analysis -- of Fitzgerald's novels -- is outstanding, but the short stories should not be so dismissed (even if Scott himself at times dismissed them and hated having to write them to earn money).
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