Of all our novelists, Fitzgerald was by reason of his temperament and his gifts the best fitted to explore and reveal the inner world of the movies and of the men who make them. The subject needs a romantic realist, which Fitzgerald was; it requires a lively sense of the fantastic, which he had; it demands the kind of intuitive perceptions which were his in abundance.... Monroe Stahr, the movie big shot about whom the story is centered, is Fitzgerald's most fully conceived character.... Fitzgerald has created a memorable figure in Stahr, Hollywood's "last tycoon"; he had marvelously conveyed the atmosphere in which a mammoth American industry is conducted; he would have ended, we can see, by bringing it clearly into focus as a world of its own within the larger pattern of American life as a whole.
J. Donald Adams - New York Times (11-9-1941)
Literary detective Bruccoli has produced a remarkable feat of scholarship in this welcome critical edition of the novel Fitzgerald began during his final year (1940) while working in Hollywood as a screenwriter. Generally considered a roman a clef, the story charts the power struggle of self-made, overworked producer Monroe Stahr (modeled on MGM producer Irving Thalberg) with rival executive Pat Brady (a stand-in for MGM head Louis B. Mayer). It is also the story of Stahr's love affair with Kathleen Moore and is (partly at least) narrated by Cecelia, Brady's cynical daughter who is hopelessly in love with Stahr. After Fitzgerald's death in December, his conflicting drafts for the novel were reworked by Edmund Wilson, who spliced episodes, moved around scenes and altered words and punctuation. Bruccoli, Fitzgerald biographer and editor of Cambridge's critical edition of The Great Gatsby, has restored Fitzgerald's original version and has also restored the narrative's ostensible working title, one that implies that Hollywood is the last American frontier where immigrants and their progeny remake themselves. Equally significant are other entries in this volume: Bruccoli's informative introduction; letters by Fitzgerald, Wilson and Maxwell Perkins; facsimiles of Fitzgerald's notes and drafts; and textual commentary, including helpful explanations of the novel's numerous topical references.
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