Monday, July 25, 2011

Drinking the Dream: Alcohol’s Place in Written Art

Stories about the alcoholic writer are too abundant to ignore and faced with it, we come to realize some of our greatest classic literature was fueled, at least in part, by hooch.

The Daily Beast’s Jimmy So examines a couple of vintage booze-soaked peeks at modern literature through the bottom of a bottle: 1987’s Equivocal Spirits: Alcoholism and Drinking in Twentieth-Century Literature (University of North Carolina Press) by Thomas Gilmore and John Crowley’s The White Logic: Alcoholism and Gender in American Modernist Fiction (University of Massachusetts Press) from 1994. So writes:
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896, famous by 1920, forgotten by 1936, and dead by the end of 1940. In the '20s, he introduced himself to party guests as “one of the most notorious drinkers of the younger generation,” or as “F. Scott Fitzgerald, the well-known alcoholic.” His friend Ernest Hemingway experienced such stagecraft firsthand when, during a trip with “Poor Scott,” Fitzgerald was convincing himself that he was dying of “consumption of the lungs” and demanded that Hemingway find a thermometer to ascertain whether a fever boiled in his blood. “He did have a point, though, and I knew it very well,” Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast. “Most drunkards in those days died of pneumonia, a disease which has now been almost eliminated. But it was hard to accept him as a drunkard, since he was affected by such small quantities of alcohol.”
So’s Daily Beast piece is here.


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