August 6, 2009
FROM THE ARCHIVES: THOUGH THE PROVERBIAL SUFFICES:
Fitz and Schul Defeat Sobriety and Bad Cinema: The Story of F. Scott Fitzgerald at Winter Carnival (Nicholas Desai, February 8, 2008, Dartmouth Review)
The story of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1939 trip to Dartmouth for Winter Carnival is proverbial, even if the best known version has it simply that the novelist got very drunk in Hanover. Even this condensed form has appeal: the man of letters who does not uphold the supposed dignity of his profession is both comic and tragic. Yet an investigation of the Budd Schulberg papers, recently acquired by Dartmouth College Library, reveals a tale that, fleshed out, gains still more gravity and comic appeal.
It’s a yarn that Schulberg ‘36 related many times in publications, at conferences, and in fictional form in his 1950 novel The Disenchanted. Like any drinking story, it seems to alter with each telling to provide maximum entertainment, usually through emphasis but occasionally in presentation of facts. (Did Schulberg really take Fitzgerald to Psi U or simply feint in that direction?) But Schulberg, the acclaimed novelist of What Makes Sammy Run? and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of On the Waterfront, tells it well each time. What follows is the ‘39 bender according to Schulberg, which is drawn from several accounts and rendered using a combination of quotation and paraphrase. His is the controlling view, since he stuck by Fitzgerald more closely than anyone else during their brief excursion.
There were two great apocryphal stories when I was at Colgate. One, that when Walter Cronkite brought his daughter to visit the college it happened to be during one of the more festive occasions and afterwards he said: "There are two places I never want her to go, the DMZ in Vietnam and Colgate on Spring Party Weekend." And that, in the 70s, when Playboy ranked party schools they parenthetically omitted Dartmouth and Colgate, "Because it wouldn't be fair to compare the amateurs to the two professionals."
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2009 12:02 AM
[originally posted: 2/12/08]