Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

The heart of The Crack-Up is a series of three articles entitled “The Crack-Up,” “Handle with Care,” and “Pasting It Together.” These first appeared in the February, March, and April, 1936, issues of Esquire magazine. In these articles, F. Scott Fitzgerald recounts his physical, emotional, and spiritual breakdown at age thirty-nine and elaborates upon its consequences. Fitzgerald died in 1940, and two years later his old friend and fellow Princetonian Edmund Wilson put together a book composed of ten articles Fitzgerald had written between 1931 and 1937. They are arranged chronologically—the first, “Echoes of the Jazz Age,” was published in November, 1931; the last, “Early Success,” was published in October, 1937. Wilson states in an introductory note that the articles form an autobiographical sequence vividly expressing Fitzgerald’s point of view and the state of his mind during the later years of his life. The book begins with Wilson’s long dedicatory poem in iambic-pentameter couplets. The content of the poem merges the warmth of Wilson’s friendship with his high regard for Fitzgerald’s writing—an appropriate tone, since the articles themselves combine impressive literary craftsmanship with candid self-revelation. Wilson’s choice of the heroic couplet is further evidence of the worth he assigns to his subject matter.

The articles are followed by excerpts from the Notebooks, grouped alphabetically...

(The entire section is 533 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Aldridge, John W. “Fitzgerald: The Horror and the Vision of Paradise,” in After the Lost Generation, 1951.

Bishop, John Peale. “The Missing All,” in The Collected Essays of John Peale Bishop, 1948. Edited by Edmund Wilson.

Cowley, Malcolm. “Third Act and Epilogue,” in F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Man and His Work, 1951. Edited by Alfred Kazin.

Cross, K. G. W. “Afternoon of an Author,” in F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1964.

Hook, Andrew. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin’s, 2002.

Morris, Wright. “The Function of Nostalgia: F. Scott Fitzgerald,” in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Collection of Critical Essays, 1963. Edited by Arthur Mizener.

Troy, William. “F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Authority of Failure,” in F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Man and His Work, 1951. Edited by Alfred Kazin