Thursday, April 22, 2004

A few years ago, I visited the F. Scott Fitzgerald room at USC's Thomas Cooper Library. The collection is massive; wall to wall bookshelves and boxes that seem to catalogue everything the writer ever committed to print, from first drafts to cocktail napkins. The librarian told me that students from Princeton, Fitzgerald's alma mater, regularly come to USC for work on their theses, which I don't doubt at all. There are Fitzgerald's books -- including his own copy of Ulysses, personally inscribed by Joyce, with Fitzgerald's own notes on the "Oxen of the Sun" chapter written in the margins -- Fitzgerald's pictures, letters, cancelled checks; more versions of The Great Gatsby than you ever knew existed, including newspaper serializations and an actual "government issue" version distributed to soldiers during World War II. The collection, as is well known, is the personal obsession of the irascible Matthew Bruccoli -- a tough interview, let me tell you -- who according to today's New York Times has now added a few more boxes to the university's burgeoning collection.

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