Archives for posts with tag: letters


“I come from a family where the only emotion respectable to show is irritation. In some this tendency produces hives, in others literature, in me both.”


The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor is available at


F. Scott Fitzgerald was living in France when he completed The Great Gatsby in the fall of 1924. He mailed the manuscript to his publisher, feeling confident that the novel lived up to his vision for something “new..beautiful…and intricately patterned.” Since transatlantic mail traveled slowly, Fitzgerald had to wait nearly a month for a reply. Listed below is an excerpt from the initial response that Maxwell Perkins, Fitzgerald’s editor at Scribner’s, sent from New York.

Nov. 18, 1924

Dear Scott:

I think the novel is a wonder. I’m taking it home to read again and shall then write my impressions in full —but it has vitality to an extraordinary degree, and glamour, and a great deal of underlying thought of unusual quality. It has a kind of mystic atmosphere at times that you infused into parts of “Paradise” and have not since used. It is a marvelous fusion, into a unity of presentation, of the extraordinary incongruities of life today. And as for sheer writing, it’s astonishing…

With congratulations, I am,

Maxwell E. Perkins

Illustration: Opening section of The Great Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s handwriting.


In a July 1922 letter to his editor Maxwell Perkins, F. Scott Fitzgerald expressed his vision for his new novel. “I want to write something new — something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” Over the next few years, Fitzgerald wrote numerous drafts of the book that is now widely considered the very best American novel — The Great Gatsby, originally published in 1925.