Interpreting Fitzgerald’s ledger

James L.W. West

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ledger is a mongrel document – part bibliography, part business record, part sourcebook, part autobiographical self-assessment. Theodore Dreiser, E. M. Forster, André Gide, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, Anaïs Nin, John Cheever, and a great many other authors left behind journals and diaries, but Fitzgerald’s ledger is something else again, an unclassifiable portmanteau of information about his life, writings, and literary career. The ledger has been consulted by bibliographers to establish Fitzgerald’s oeuvre, by book historians to study the profession of authorship, by biographers to give an overview of Fitzgerald’s career, by critics to discover sources for his stories and novels, and by teachers to show how a writer’s life is organized. The ledger can also be regarded as a literary work, a verbal construction that is unfinished but is enormously revealing when read as if it were a story, from the first page through to the last. Copies of Fitzgerald’s novels, stories, and essays can be borrowed from libraries or purchased in bookstores. The ledger, however, is somewhat more difficult to access. A black-and-white reproduction of the original was issued in 1972, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and published by NCR/Microcard Editions. The book was entitled F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Ledger: A Facsimile. One thousand copies were printed, according to the copyright page, each copy bearing a handwritten number. Most Fitzgerald scholars own this facsimile. NCR/Microcard Editions no longer exists as a publishing entity, but their unsold back stock is available for purchase. As of July 2011, one could still acquire an unopened copy of the facsimile for less than forty dollars through Alibris or Amazon. It is also possible to borrow a copy on interlibrary loan. A search of WorldCat indicates that 278 copies of the facsimile reside in libraries; these libraries are located in forty-seven of the fifty U.S. states and in Puerto Rico, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, and the United Kingdom. As for the original ledger (measuring 8½ × 13¾ inches), it is preserved in the Matthew J. and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, University of South Carolina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationF. Scott Fitzgerald in Context
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780511920707
ISBN (Print)9781107009196
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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