September 15, 2008KR BlogUncategorized

That Scott Fitzgerald Sure was a Physical Coward

As an addendum to my previous post, I believe this section from a November 1944 letter to Elizabeth Murray is worth printing on this blog. Salinger was in Europe as a soldier:

I see the Farewell to Arms man quite often. I like him, but am thumbs down on his philosophy or what-have-you. He’s an exceptionally kind guy by instinct, and if he has any poses he developed them so early that they now seem pretty natural to him, and I don’t think of anything he says or does as being phony. But I hate his overestimation of sheer physical courage, commonly called “guts”, as a virtue. Probably because I am short on it myself. I don’t like to live dangerously. I respect bravery, but I feel very, very sorry for the normally uncourageous man to whom it comes. The necessity of being brave is a helluvan imposition on a man ??? not at all beautiful. I liked and approved of E.H.’s Francis Macomber long before he got brace. I don’t like his redemption of the arty way the author knocked him off. E.H. talks ??? sympathetically, of course ??? of Scott Fitzgerald. One of the first things he said of Fitzgerald when I asked him ??? and that’s why I resent it: because it was one of the first things he said about him ??? was that Scott was a physical coward. Probably true, but I resent the name-calling, sympathetic or no. (Matter of fact, I’ll bet a dollar at one time E.H. was probably in his heart extremely envious of Scott’s brilliance.) There’s something E.H. hasn’t the capacity to take into consideration. He’s all instinct and never once in his life has he used his intellect. Scott had an intellect to badger his life as well as a set of instincts just as snappy as E.H.’s “ H. can tell some sad stories about Scott. Will tell them to you one day.