“IN MEMORY OF A SMALL BUT SELECT PARTY NOT TO BE COUGHED AT IN THESE DRY DAYS”: F. SCOTT FITZGERALD’S FIRST BOOK, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, INSCRIBED BY HIM FOUR DAYS AFTER PUBLICATION
FITZGERALD, F. Scott. This Side of Paradise. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920. Octavo, original green cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $38,000.
First edition, first printing of Fitzgerald’s first novel, inscribed four days after publication, “For Larry Larom, in memory of a small but select party not to be coughed at in these dry days! F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cottage Club, Princeton, N.J. March 30th 1920.”
Although the inscription was written just four days after the publication of This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald's first novel, he 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 the day of the inscription, 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 "small but select" 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 damnedest party ever held in Princeton & everyone in the University will agree" (Turnbull, 107). Apparently, everyone did agree: between Zelda's showing up at breakfast with a demijohn of applejack and Fitzgerald getting into brawls, Fitzgerald managed to get himself suspended from Cottage: "some of those who had aided and abetted them at the time had voted for Fitzgerald's suspension" (Turbull, 108).
The inscription is particularly appropriate in that This Side of Paradise is a romantic evocation of Fitzgerald's Princeton days, begun while he 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 printings of this novel (April 1920) are exceedingly difficult to obtain. Without two blank flyleaves at rear. Without scarce original dust jacket. Bruccoli A5.1.a. Signature of recipient on rear free endpaper.
Very shallow dampstain along upper edge of text block, a few faint spots to front cover. A near-fine copy, gilt exceptionally bright.