Mar

8

 As a public figure, Vic is doomed. He is guilty of committing what Fitzgerald implied was the cardinal sin for an American: his life has had more than one act.

There is nothing he can ever do that will excuse him from that as far as the members of the press are concerned. A while ago, I offered the comparison with Ulysses Grant. I still think it is apt. The glee with which the New York press reported the failure of Grant & Ward was matched only by their frustration at his managing to write several classic books (the autobiography appeared in successive volumes) and to restore his family's fortunes.

The journalists' revenge was to tag Grant with the reputation of being a drunkard and corrupt. Neither accusation had any truth, of course; but both remain truisms of what "educated people" know about the lessons of American history. This proves once again the truth of what Henry Ford (yet another genius and anti-Semite fool) said: "In most cases the uses of history are bunk."

I have no doubt that the Times obituary, if it ever appears (anyone want to give odds on the paper outliving the Chair?), will feature comments from every semi-public figure who disliked, feared, or envied the deceased, just as Grant's memoriam featured prominent quotations from Henry Adams (that ultimate rich kid of American literature).

From Imogen Rose-Smith:

Fitzgerald's insight that there are no second acts in American lives means not that Americans only get one act but that lives in America are a series of one acts. Otherwise it is nonsense. Then again, it is hard to know what Fitzgerald meant. The line was a fragment, written toward the end of his life and he was probably drunk. 


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