The Last Tycoon, edited by the renowned literary critic Edmund Wilson, was first published a year after Fitzgerald's death and includes the author's notes and outline for his unfinished literary masterpiece. It is the story of the young Hollywood mogul Monroe Stahr, a character inspired by the life of boy-genius Irving Thalberg, and is an exposé of the studio system in its heyday.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works have been seen as evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he himself allegedly coined. He is regarded as one of the greatest twentieth century writers. Fitzgerald was of the self-styled "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I. He finished four novels, left a fifth unfinished, and wrote dozens of short stories that treat themes of youth, despair, and age. He was married to Zelda Fitzgerald.
The kind of charming immaturity of This Side of Paradise; the polished, profound (if a little thematically evident), career-defining The Great Gatsby; Tender is the Night, a decade’s attempt to live up to Gatsby; and, finally, The Last Tycoon, the book that finally would’ve done so.
AND FITZGERALD JUST HAD TO GO AND DIE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT.
I do not know how to review this book. I am completely, truly, one hundred percent sure this would have been Fitzgerald’s greatest. Maybe not his most well-read (Gatsby is perfect for high school underclassmen reading lists - theme-filled AND obvious) but definitely his best.
“These lights, this brightness, these clusters of human hope, of wild desire—I shall take these lights in my fingers. I shall make them bright, and whether they shine or not, it is in these fingers that they shall succeed or fail.”
This book, even in its incompleteness, is so subtle and evocative and nuanced. The characters are what Gatsby’s could have been if they were more people than images. Fitzgerald treats his women better, even his minorities better.
1930s Hollywood is as glamorous and seedy and fascinating as one of Gatsby’s parties - and as Fitzgerald himself pointed out, a much needed escape from the war burgeoning as he wrote.
“People fall in and out of love all the time. I wonder how they manage it.”
Reading this is an experience. It’s kind of like if you were assigned a translated book for school, and you read two thirds of the wrong translation before giving it up and Sparknoting the rest. Thorough Sparknoting, but Sparknoting all the same.
It’s interesting, and it provides a unique look, but god the whole time I was just wishing that Fitzgerald lived to finish this work.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he would have gotten too wrapped up in it - made it too much like Gatsby, rewritten the themes as too obvious, changed the ending or added more motifs. Maybe Kathleen would have gotten the treatment Daisy Buchanan did. Maybe it would have always been way too overshadowed by Gatsby to get any attention.
But we’ll never know. And it feels like the worst thing ever that we’ll never get the chance.
Bottom line: I loved this so, so, so much. Fitzgerald, man. If only you had another year.
“How different it all was from what you'd planned.”
I'm not precisely sure why this book effected me the way it did, but it certainly did. Fitzgerald finished writing the fifth chapter of this book before he had a heart attack and died. When you get to the end of this unfinished novel, you find the last word one of the greatest American writers ever wrote. Something about this is chilling. And despite the fact that one can not make any substantial investment in characters who we know in advance we'll never know completely or whose stories we won't ever realize; there is something in the simplistic and honest quality of this novel that pits it amongst Fitzgerald's greats. He himself said in his notes and letters to friends that he had no fear in writing this novel and that it was to most resemble Gatsby, but in a new way. He wanted to expose things to people in nuanced ways.
My version came with the author's original outline and plot synopsis so you can piece together the original intention; but what is really important is what you get: a concise look at the small chances of love in big people. Calamity in the real world. What you get is Fitzgerald's last hurrah; his final statement. What you get, is a novel that could have been, and is enough.
Oh, Fitzgerald, Fitzy, Scott, F. I kept putting this one off because I knew exactly how it would leave me, and I was exactly right. As much as I love Gatsby, as much as I love Tender is the Night and the short stories and the essays and every wastebasket scrap he’s written, this would have been It. Capital-I It. It still almost is, even terribly unfinished.
Now what? The other woman was more missed in her absence. They were alone and on too slim a basis for what had passed already. They existed nowhere. His world seemed far away— she had no world at all except the idol’s head, the half open door. “You’re Irish,” he said, trying to build one for her.
Me gusta la gente y me agrada gustar a la gente, pero tengo el corazón donde Dios manda: dentro.
Este 2019 que se está terminando descubrí (tarde) a Francis Scott Fitzgerald. No sé si "descubrir" es la palabra, pero sí lo leí por primera vez y me encantó lo que encontré. Este gran escritor, uno de los fundamentales referentes de la "generación perdida", como llamaron a ese grupo de autores que incluía entre otros a él y también a John Dos Passos, Erskine Caldwell, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck y Sherwood Anderson entre otros, situada en los Estados Unidos de entreguerras y que supo captar como nadie el glamour y el desencanto, la fastuosidad del dinero y la depresión económica de un modo real y claro. Entre el fin de la primera guerra mundial, pasando por la gran depresión norteamericana y desembocando en la segunda guerra mundial, este país fue sacudido por sucesos que lo marcaron a fuego y desde allí, se trasladó a todos los ámbitos, recalando obviamente en la literatura y es allí donde se plasmó en forma explícita. Ya habiendo leído "El gran Gatsby" y "El curioso caso de Benjamin Button", pude tener una noción de la maravillosa narrativa de Fitzgerald mientras me preparo para otras novelas que leeré el año que viene como "Suave es la noche" o "El precio era alto." Esta novela en particular está inacabada. La muerte sorprendió de un ataque al corazón a Fitzgerald un 21 de diciembre de 1940 cuando el autor recién había iniciado el capítulo VI del libro. Indudablemente, quedan muchos cabos sueltos que nos hacen preguntar cómo hubiera terminado la historia de este emblemático productor de cine llamado Monroe Stahr y en el que Fitzgerald encarna a esos últimos empresarios que buscaban con sus películas inmortalizarse para siempre en el mundo de Hollywood, meca del sétimo arte. Naturalmente, es inevitable no trazar una comparación entre Stahr y Gatsby; el primero como eje central del poder hegemónico en el mundo de las películas y el otro como ideal del sueño americano, dandi y conquistador, pero ambos con algo a favor: millonarios. Tal vez, lo que más los une es esa latente fragilidad sentimental que poseen aquellos que lo tienen todo pero que anhelan compartir sus vidas con una mujer ideal que les es esquiva. Para el caso de Stahr, su obsesión es llegar al corazón de Kathleen Moore, quien le recuerda físicamente a su fallecida esposa, Mina Davies, y a su vez al relato por otro lado de Cecilia Brady, una joven asistente de Stahr e hija de un amigo de este. Dentro de todo ese mundo de lujo y poder, están los vaivenes del corazón que afectan a cualquier ser humano y Stahr no es la excepción. El contrapunto entre ambas mujeres es puesto en escena por el autor en el caso de Kathleen contado en tercera persona, mientras que Cecilia narra sus experiencias en primera. Es que el manuscrito del autor, si bien no estaba terminado sí había sido corregido aunque nunca decidió si escribir la novela en primera o tercera persona. Cuando uno lee "El último magnate", es advertido por los editores acerca de esta cuestión. Muchos afirman que paradojamente esta es la mejor novela de Fitzgerald y que tenía un gran potencial de ser recordada si el autor hubiera podido terminarla. Mi edición posee la supuesta continuación a partir de los borradores y anotaciones que el autor dejó a su muerte, así como distintas teorías narrativas y argumentales que discutió con sus editores. De todas maneras, la novela no deja de mostrarnos ese asombroso mundo del cine, así también como de lo que las pasiones generan aún en los hombres más poderosos. Nuevamente Francis Scott Fitzgerald logra captar mi admiración y mis ganas de seguir leyendo sus libros.
Stunning scenes shrouded in the typical softness of Fitzgerald, not exempt from clichés, but that the author reclaims thanks to a strong presence, and some subtle dialogues punctuate the story and maintain the attention. We, therefore, regret that the author could not complete it because it would undoubtedly have given a new great novel, entirely in line with its two previous ones, if the drafts had kept all their promises. In the meantime, despite the absence of unity and, above all, the incompleteness of the story, we have access to the study of a writer who had linked his work very closely to his life, which makes it a fascinating piece, enlightening its twilight light the rest of Fitzgerald's production.
It's a tragedy Fitzgerald died before finishing this because it's brimming with beautiful inspired writing and completely contradicts any notion that he was washed up as a writer. It appears it would have been more similar to Gatsby than Tender is the Night. Starr is an idealistic film director who believes in treating people with kindness and respect. He's out of synch with a Hollywood becoming ever more ruthless and cynical. Not enough of the story is written down to get a feel for how exactly the novel is going to play out - though at the end there's a lot of detail from Fitzgerald's notes - but the exalted nature of the prose made this a compelling read for me. I can't really recommend an unfinished novel or give it five stars but I loved reading it.
Reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s penultimate novel, “Tender is the Night,” saddened me, because it showed a once-great man struggling—and failing—to write a novel worthy of his prodigious talent and storied past.
Reading “The Last Tycoon” saddens me, because he found that novel, then suddenly died before he could finish it.
“The Last Tycoon” tells the story of Hollywood golden boy Monroe Stahr. He’s a good guy, pays his people well, and works hard to make good, profitable films—he’s not even afraid to green-light a film that will lose, $250,000 dollars, simply because it will be brilliant. Monroe is a widower, his work now his mistress.
One night, a water main breaks during an earthquake, and two young women are being swept away in the deluge. He manages to rescue them. One of the girls looks like his late wife. Monroe is intrigued, and searches her out.
Her name is Kathleen Moore, and she’s probably the only young woman in Hollywood not looking for movie stardom. Monroe finds himself smitten, but Kathleen has a secret.
Monroe himself is the object of Cecilia Brady, twenty-year-old daughter of Stahr’s business partner. Cecilia wants Stahr in a most grown-up way, even though he looks at her rather like a niece. Naturally, she becomes jealous of the mysterious woman who captures Monroe Stahr’s heart.
The three wrangle through their odd love triangle, and Stahr has studio business to run, and then--
That’s where Fitzgerald’s manuscript ends, after a bombshell revelation.
I literally swore. I mean, I knew it was incomplete, but why couldn’t he have written another chapter? Or two? His writing was strong, beautiful, and sharp again, so why couldn’t he have just skipped over “Tender is the Night,” and written this one to completion? Why, literary gods, why?
I think the reason is Hollywood. The author had, of course, spent his final years working in Hollywood, miserably writing miserable screenplays just for the big paychecks he needed. The downside is that he wasn’t especially happy with this new world. The upside is that it pulled his head out of the whole creatively stifling “Scott & Zelda, Jazz Age Royalty” rut he’d been stuck in. Fitzgerald’s four previous novels were either thinly veiled autobiography, or featured characters based on himself and Zelda, thrust into some fictional realm or another. “Tycoon” features characters either completely fictional, or based on various Hollywood personae (Stahr is supposedly Irving Thalberg). I found a couple of snippets that were probably from Fitzgerald’s perspective—when Stahr explains to a whiny novelist the difference between novel-writing and screenwriting.
After Fitzgerald’s narrative ends, there are various materials explaining where he intended the book to go. There’s a summary, cobbled from letters, conversations with his friends and editors, et al. There are the author’s own notes from the manuscript, explaining changes he was planning to make to his manuscript, plus his own outline and character sketches.
Based on these posthumous additions, it’s hard to know how good “Tycoon” could have been. If Fitzgerald had continued along the narrative’s natural arc, I think “The Last Tycoon” could have been his masterpiece. If he followed-through on his notes and outlines, I think it could have fizzled in unnecessary melodrama. It would be interesting to see his notes and outlines on “The Great Gatsby” at the same point of evolution, just to see how faithfully he normally adhered to his original plans.
The sad part is, we’ll never know, unless we can check it out from The Afterlife Public Library, if such a thing exists.
For now, “The Last Tycoon” is three novels. It’s the novel that follows where we as readers imagine it will go. It’s the novel that closely adheres to the author’s outline and notes. Mostly—sadly—it’s the novel that ends entirely too damned soon.
Originally, I had planned not to rate this book at all. After all, it's an unfinished novel. And yet...it's some of Fitzgerald's finest. Here on display is one of Fitzgerald's best literary tricks -- to have characters act in peculiar and implausible ways and to make them completely realistic and plausible. I loved every scene in this book. There is not a single sentence in this book, a single line, that doesn't crackle with energy. I just wished I could have read the finished product.
I have now read all of Fitzgerald's major published works. After finishing The Love of The Last Tycoon, the incomplete manuscript on his desk when he died, I ask immediately wonder how this novel differs from his other works. Did he know he had this one last chance to voice his ideas? Did he compile the breadth of his lifelong learning into his final literary hero? Unfortunately, we can only speculate on these questions. But I find comfort in the idea that we would not have these questions had not Fitzgerald left The Love of The Last Tycoon as his final stamp on American literary art.
Fitzgerald's protagonist, Monroe Stahr, stands apart from the other heroes of his novels. Amory Blaine endures a sort of intellectual maturation which coincides with his struggle with humility. Anthony Patch, born to privilege, would rather spend his time thinking about his future instead of pursuing it. Jay Gatsby put a human face on the iconic rich and influential socialite image of the 1920s. And the autobiographical sketch of Dick Diver portrays a man burdened with a sick love. Only with Monroe Stahr do we meet a hero who seems to have it all, a self-sustaining character who does not need a feminine Virgil to guide him, a successful businessman who nobly soars above a town of flared egos and disingenuous fakes. We might think of Gatsby, but Stahr differs by bearing his full persona to everyone, even by mixing an arrogant sense of savior ethics into his professional career as a producer. He also seems to embrace any self-inflicted personal detriment and defends his methods like a Hollywood mystic who confidently awaits others to naturally arrive at his conclusions.
I wanted to appreciate Cecelia's first-person narrative more than I did. Nick Carraway remains the heavy-weight champion in this arena. But I did appreciate her overall tone. For a young woman, writing about something which happened in her childhood, I liked the contrast of her tired and seemingly cynical tone with her proximity to the glamorous bustle of Hollywood life. Fitzgerald positions her as a Hollywood insider but with no personal credits in movies - the privileged fly on a wall in a town which hasn't wrapped her in its spider silk. Fitzgerald presents her with a keen sense of simile which cleverly meets the demands of the situation while cultivating her consistently disenchanted tone. At least half of the novel, however, happens away from her presence. So how much do we believe about a story which takes place in Hollywood about the most successful and revered contemporary Hollywood producer from someone who was absent from much of the story? I don't believe Fitzgerald made a mistake. I think he wants us to ask this question - a scripted silver screen drama based on real life. And he developed her tone to draw us in just enough to consider how these people relate to us.
Unfortunately, Fitzgerald did not have the chance to finish this book, and though I commend Matthew Bruccoli for producing a publication enhanced with editing notes and outlines from Fitzgerald himself, readers can only contemplate open-ended themes doomed to resolution purgatory. Nonetheless, I think Fitzgerald did reach an important stage of the story as Stahr vulnerably enters the center of the hero's labyrinth and faces himself. And, again, as opposed to Fitzgerald's other heroes, I don't think Stahr felt familiar with himself when coupled with some of the people who enter his life. His brief love affair with Kathleen tests his conviction for his Hollywood work by presenting an escape into a more traditional American life. The last episodes with the visiting communist force him to acknowledge his personal ethics particularly regarding relations with writers. Stahr strikes me with his honesty as he faces himself. While many heroes wage bloody battle against the beast representing their other half, I imagine Stahr finding the beast, introducing himself with one hand in his pocket, his head tipped to one side, slightly squinting as he assesses his adversary. The beast says nothing to disarm him. Stahr listens. Understands. Responds inquisitively. Perhaps he defends his choices and his noble intentions. Perhaps he even describes what he sacrifices for a growing town which transforms the imagination into a reality of sensory overload.
But we don't see Stahr come out of the labyrinth. And we don't know who "survives" the interaction in the center. But we do meet a very different Fitzgerald vision - a confident man, a brilliant and intuitive Hollywood producer, a loveable persona and the last of the traditional Americana icons.
An incomplete first draft only of the book FSF was still writing when he died, this feels like a new departure or at least a fresh start. As in Gatsby there is a first person narrator who isn't one of the romantic protagonists, and large sections of what exists are almost third-person narratives of the doomed love between Monroe Stahr and Kathleen.
What marks a diversion from the previous books is that this is set in Hollywood and that Stahr is a film producer: a large part of the story revolves around his work and business dealings, very different from Anthony Patch, Amory Blaine or even Gatsby and Dick Diver. Offering up an insider's view of Hollywood, complete with concerns about unionization and communism, this is a book about a man who works, and works hard at his trade.
Does anyone write romance like FSF? "Stahr's eyes and Kathleen's met and tangled. For an instant they made love as no one ever dares to do after. Their glance was closer than an embrace, more urgent than a call." Yet Hollywood with its foundational alchemy of glorious illusion and hard-headed cynicism turns out to be the ideal backdrop for FSF's unique vision of love which is always doomed to fail and fade.
It is strange, perhaps even morbid, to read the very last words of a favorite author on the very last page of his unfinished novel. The words wouldn’t mean as much had they been in the middle of one of the chapters, as he had originally intended them to be. But now, I feel as if this unfinished book would’ve been so much greater than his other ones, and that realization makes me so sad. You just had to go and die, Francis, didn’t ya?
So I read the outline he had in mind and where he wanted to go with the story after the sections we ended up with. There’s so much in his notes that didn’t make it to his unfinished book, and reading them was interesting, to say the least. It just pains me to see how everything ended. But from what I can see and piece together, I can say it would’ve been one of his best works. The characters feel real - at least the main three do- with nuances that make them interesting people. The writing is subtle yet gorgeous, and the scenery and atmosphere breathtaking.
I shall stop this review right here and go read another book of his to make myself feel better.
I really wish that Fitzgerald had the chance to finish this before he died. I think out of all his novels this had the potential to be as great as the Great Gatsby. My copy of this book had notes on how Fitzgerald planned to finish the novel, he planned meticulously by all accounts. But it’s simply not the same as reading the actual story, especially as one of my favourite parts of his books are his endings.
Another Fitzgerald novel that I read in French a long time ago, and have just rediscovered with wonder by reading it in English. There's something about Fitzgerald's writing style that is really unique and that no translation, as good as it may be, can communicate. Because The Last Tycoon is unfinished, and is a work in progress that will always stay this way, it can come across as frustrating not to have the complete novel, and to read sentences and paragraphs that the author may have rewritten. But it's actually an incredibly fascinating read. It is very moving to dive into this manuscript knowing it's an incomplete draft, that was supposed to be perfected - you can almost feel Fitzgerald writing it. More than that, it is one of the very best (if not the best) novels ever written about Hollywood: Fitzgerald has perfectly understood how the whole system worked - which makes his own failure at working within this system heartbreaking. Monroe Stahr, reminiscent of Gatsby in some aspects, is a wonderfully enigmatic character, he's the heart of a deeply melancholic story that, once more, goes to the heart of the American dream - this time as it's been shaped by Hollywood and its mythology.
É difícil pontuar este livro, pois não se encontra terminado. A escrita de Fitzgerald, revolve quase invariavelmente em torno da crítica social e à hipocrisia das classes por onde se movimentava - e do peso que os interesses sociais tomavam relativamente aos verdadeiros sentimentos das personagens. Nesta obra não é diferente, até tendo em conta o final que o autor pretendeu dar-lhe.
Sou uma grande apreciadora da escrita do autor e tenho curiosidade em ler mais obras do mesmo após The Great Gatsby e The Last Tycoon.
C’è vita. Vita e la sua negazione. Sfiancarsi per costruire. Costruire un impero in cui riflettersi, per sfuggire se stessi. Esperienza che scorre febbrile nelle vene. È così difficile per l’essere umano consumare il tempo in una dimensione presente. È un limbo di non vissuto per allontanare la felicità, paura sconosciuta.
Unfinished works aren't the best starting point for reading a new-to-you author, but Fitzgerald's skillful way with words instantly put me on his side. General consensus among friends who've read Gatsby implied that it was "kind-of a boring book"; nobody told me that Fitzgerald is simply a delight to read, regardless of subject. His mastery is much in evidence here, a book begun roughly twenty years into his professional career. Its romance is touching, and the relational and emotional tangle of its characters is compelling: a piece of writing worth the reader's journey, despite never reaching its destination.
Für ein Werk von F. Scott Fitzgerald kommt "Die Liebe des letzten Tycoon" bei den Goodreadern nicht besonders gut weg. Das liegt wahrscheinlich daran, dass der Autor das Werk nicht vollendet hat und manchen das ungeschliffene oder unbeendete missfällt. Mir hat gerade das gefallen. Es ist weniger Fragment als der 2. Teil des Mannes ohne Eigenschaften, sondern eher unpoliert und man kann sich nicht sicher sein, ob das Ende schon als wirkliches Ende gedacht war aber mir gefällt gerade diese Unvollendetheit.
F. Scott Fitzgerald nahm dieses Werk nach einigen kommerziell sehr erfolgreichen aber literarisch erfolglosen Jahren als Drehbuchautor in Hollywood in Angriff . In meinen Augen lesen sich weite Teile wie ein Film aus der damaligen Zeit. So legt der Autor in vielen Szenen Wert auf die (beschriebene) musikalische Untermalung, (beschriebene) Lichteffekte und plastische Schnitt- und Szenenwechsel. Leider ist die eigentliche Handlung von holywoodesquer Plattheit, wenngleich manche Charaktere gut gezeichnet sind.
This was F. Scott Fitzgerald's final book. He never finished it. On December 21, 1940, the day after he wrote chapter 6, Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack. For an unfinished novel The Last Tycoon is a powerful work. I feels like a second draft rather than the first draft that it apparently is. Heavens, the man could write!
I'm not sure why GR has this book listed under the title The Love of the Last Tycoon. My copy was a first edition, published in 1941 and is titled simply, The Last Tycoon--a much more fitting title. As the forward by Edmund Wilson points out The Last Tycoon is not just about Monroe Stahr but about Hollywood in the 1940s.
Unlike many of Fitzgerald's characters, Stahr is no playboy but rather a hard driven producer, immensely talented, working often around the clock at an impossible business. At one point Stahr pops a Benzedrine and I was reminded of my time on Wall Street where almost all of the traders and quite a few of the investment bankers lived on cocaine and coffee.
The atmosphere and pace of Hollywood life is vividly captured here. The romance(s) is secondary--and from the notes that was intentional. This is primarily a book about an industry and the powerful men who dominate it. The issues of the day are central: Communism, censorship, unions, tight studio budgets. It was a time when ordinary Americans were still so damaged from the Depression that going to the movies was a nearly impossible luxury and class resentment was so sharp that the rich often feared that revolution was nigh.
It's a tragedy this was left unfinished, as this felt like the most unique of his works, in that it felt like he was leaning less on his old habits to write it. Monroe is a character I'd love to see more of, and he was perfectly balanced: just special enough you'd want to read about him, but not so larger than life that you don't think you could bump into someone like him on the street somewhere.
I think this could have been one of his best works, and I think he captured so well the trappings and allures of old-school Hollywood. He also seems to have written more of himself into this novel than Zelda, and that was somehow refreshing.
Brilliantly written, expertly envisioned, yet it somehow feels like a welcome evolution from his previous style. It's such a shame we never got the full vision because, if this novel is any indication, Fitzgerald was adapting marvelously to the changes and shifting sensibilities of American culture.
وقتی کتابی اثر اسکات فیتزجرالد در فقسه کتابفروشی دیدم که نخوانده بودم، انقدر ذوق کردم که مثل همیشه قبل از خرید تورقی نکردم.. اما حالا که شروع کردم بخونم میبینم کتاب آخرین قارون به خاطر درگذشت ناگهانی نویسنده نیمهکاره مانده و پس از مرگش با کمک یادداشتها و اتودهای نویسنده پایانی برای کتاب تهیه شده و به چاپ رسیده. حالا شاید خیلی هم بد نباشه. بخونم ببینم چی میشه.
It's extremely unfair to rate this as it's an unfinished manuscript, especially as it's an unfinished manuscript by F. Scott Fitzgerald who was notoriously sensitive about the reception of his books. However, it's really and truly awful. I can't finish it. 72 pages in and I'm bailing. Probably best for Fitzgerald fans not to engage with this one. I absolutely adored This Side of Paradise and think his earlier work is brilliant, but this shows how deeply Fitzgerald had, at the end of his life and career, slid into false starts and lost ways.
There is something about this man's writing that does it for me.
“There’s nothing that worries me in the novel, nothing that seems uncertain. Unlike “Tender is the night” it is not a story of deterioration – it is not depressive and not morbid in spite of the tragic ending. If one could ever be more “like” another I should say it is more “like” The Great Gatsby than any other of my books. But I hope it will be entirely different – I hope it will be something new, arouse new emotions, perhaps even a new way of looking at a certain phenomena. I have set is safely in the period of five years ago to obtain detachment, but now that Europe is tumbling about our ears, this also seems to be for the best. It is an escape into the lavish, romantic past that perhaps will not come again into our time. It is certainly a novel I would like to read. Shall I write it? “
- Fitzgerald in his letter concerning the book.
He was writing this novel until his death so it is unfinished, comparing it to The Great Gatsby but this one is more complex than Gatsby, starting with the narration.
Cecilia as a narrator can be parallel to Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, but as Fitzgerald evolved as the years went by so had his writing.
Cecilia is both subjective and distanced from the narration. Subjective as she was in love with Stahr and through her eyes at times, we see him as she sees him. Distanced as she is telling us a story that already unfolded as five years have passed since then. She also unlike Nick plays a direct role in the characters' life as she did tell her father, Stahr's antagonist, that he had been seeing someone and gave him a ground for blackmail. With Cecilia, a reader is getting insight and foreshadowing and can speculate how the events unfold as if he/she is an actor in the story. In contrast to Nick, where during the more important chapters he is absent and feels as though he is a commentator not a participant of the events.
“What I wanted to know “He told me ruefully “is how he ever got to be Mr.Stahr?” “He had flown up very high to see, on strong wings, when he was young. And while he was up there he had looked on all the kingdoms, with the kind of eyes that can stare straight into the sun….he had stayed up there longer than most of us, and then, remembering all that he had seen from his great height of how things were, he had settled gradually to earth."
Stahr as the last Tycoon / Romantic elements in the book
He is at the forefront of the moviemaker business but at the same time being on his personal descent. The symbol for his descent is given in both opening scene (plane landing) and in the drafts that Fitzgerald had made for the ending (his tragic death in a plane crash). To understand this we must go back in the time the book takes place, Hollywood of the 1930s after The Great Depression and the turn of the economy it caused. The movie industry was growing and the fight for power and money had started in it. This book deals in details with the profession, showing us a daily life of Monroe Stahr who is consumed by his work, taking no breaks from it except the time he spent with Kathleen Moore and their affair. This newfound feeling has him feeling confused but unable to resist the pull that Moore has over him, which could have been even more intensified by his health condition.
“If he was going to die soon, like the two doctors said, he wanted to stop being Stahr for a while and hunt for love like men who had no gifts to give, like young nameless men who looked around the streets in the dark."
The portrait of the relationship developing between them is lovely and also doomed to fail – being that she is already engaged. But reading it felt awfully real.
“They were smiling at each other as if this was the beginning of the world.”
* * *
“They sat on high stools and had tomato broth and hot sandwiches. It was more intimate than anything they had done and they both felt a dangerous sort of loneliness, and felt it in each other.”
* * *
“There’s no reason for feeling like a fool.” She said. “You’re too good a man to feel like a fool. But you should see this for what it is.” “What is it?” “You’ve fallen for me – completely. You’ve got me in your dreams.” “I’d forgotten you” he declared “Till the moment I walked in that door.”
Interesting thing to notice is another comparison to The Great Gatsby where Stahr is associated with the West while Brady (Cecilia's father) is associated with the East, one being an artist concerned with the production of the films (Stahr) and the other being the merchant, concerned about the selling aspect and the income it will bring (Brady). Though the thing that is holding all the crew is the art aspect of it – Stahr. And chapters 3 and 4 go in great detail to describe his work in action.
“The oracle had spoken. There was nothing to question or argue. Stahr must be right always, not most of the time but always – or the structure would melt down like gradual butter.”
He is inspired by Conradian heroes – a great man whose fall is compounded by his internal weakness and the machinations of those immediately around him. His death is an end of an Era. Stahr is a hero that belongs to an age that has no demands for heroes beyond the ones they create on-screen. His plane crash is ironically excluding him from the crash of his the film empire he worked so hard on.
“You do what you are born to do” he said gently “About once a month somebody tries to reform me, tells me what a barren old age I’ll have when I can’t work anymore. But it’s not so simple.”
* * *
“When I was young I wanted to be chief clerk. The one that knew where everything was.” “That’s odd. And now you’re much more than that.” “No, I’m still a chief clerk. Thats my gift, if I have one. Only when I got to be it, I found out that no one knew where anything was. And I found out that you have to know why it was where it was, and whether it should be left there.”
In conclusion, this would have been a masterpiece along with The Great Gatsby had Fitzgerald lived a little longer. All of these unanswered questions are always going to float in the air. Nonetheless, this unfinished work is more worth than hundreds of finished ones.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Ostatni z wielkich to w zasadzie pół niedopracowanej powieści, taka ciekawostka dla fanów pisarza i literaturoznawców, jako, że nie jestem ani jednym, ani drugim, przeczytanie tej pół - książki było dla mnie stratą czasu. Do zalet "Ostatniego" można zaliczyć: klimat Los Angeles lat '40 XX wieku, jak z powieści Chandlera i błyskotliwy styl Fitzgeralda.