“FOR PETE COMPTON, A WILD MAN IF THERE EVER WAS ONE”: F. SCOTT FITZGERALD’S FIRST BOOK, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, WONDERFULLY INSCRIBED BY HIM ONE DAY AFTER PUBLICATION
FITZGERALD, F. Scott. This Side of Paradise. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920. Octavo, original green cloth; housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $40,000.
First edition, first printing of Fitzgerald’s first novel, inscribed one day after publication, “For Pete Compton, A wild man if there ever was one — F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princeton, NJ, March 27th 1920.”
Although the inscription was written just one day after the publication of This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald was already fast on his way to becoming the new literary sensation: the entire first printing of 3000 copies had already sold out (ultimately requiring two more printings in April alone). On March 30, 1920, Fitzgerald sent Zelda a telegram proposing that they should marry now: “Talked with John Palmer and Rosalind and we think best to get married Saturday noon we will be awfully nervous until it is over and would get no rest by waiting until Monday first edition of the book is sold out address Cottage until Thursday and Scribner’s after that Love Scott.” On April 3rd they were married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. The parties in Princeton apparently continued: “In April they went to Princeton to ‘chaperon’ houseparties. ‘We were there three days,’ Fitzgerald wrote a friend. ‘Zelda and five men in Harvey Firestone’s car and not one of us drew a sober breath… It was the damndest party ever held in Princeton & everyone in the University will agree” (Turnbull, 107). The inscription is particularly appropriate in that This Side of Paradise is a romantic evocation of Fitzgerald’s Princeton days, begun while he himself was still an undergraduate there. “This Side of Paradise achieved immense social impact. Daring and bold for its time, the novel projected new freedom-to flirt, smoke, pet, drink and dance. It functioned as a kind of bible for the Jazz Age among the nation’s youth, catapulting Fitzgerald to overnight fame” (Nolan, 37-38). First issue, with all points listed in Bruccoli. Early printings of this novel (April 1920) are exceedingly difficult to obtain. Without exceedingly scarce original dust jacket. Bruccoli A5.1.a. Bruccoli & Clark I:131.
A bit of light dampstaining to top margin of some leaves, one-inch open tear to bottom margin of page 177. Some light spotting to original cloth. An exceptionally rare inscribed copy.