Long Lost Story by F. Scott Fitzgerald Published in the Strand Magazine
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Meet Emmet Monsen: 31 years old, “slender and darkly handsome,” dogged by an “estranged lover who gets more estranged all the time,” and the protagonist of “Temperature,” a newly released short story by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Andrew Gulli, the managing editor of the Strand Magazine, discovered the story while rifling through the Fitzgerald archives at Princeton. It is dated July 1939, just a year before Fitzgerald’s death — a time when the author was grappling with alcoholism and a flagging career. And, in fact, Mr. Monson is a very thinly veiled version of his creator: a struggling writer who is diagnosed with cardiac disease. Fitzgerald acknowledges as much; one line reads, “And as for that current dodge ‘No reference to any living character is intended’ — no use even trying that.”
Gulli’s description of the tale is surprising, given its unhappy premise. He told NPR, “There’s some madcap comedy, some Wodehousian dialogue, some romance, even a little bit of some tragedy in it. I just was struck by how funny, how interesting it was. And I said to myself, ‘I really have to have this story.’”
So why the 75-year delay in publication? By 1939, Fitzgerald’s relationship with his longtime agent, Harold Ober, had soured. Rather than run the story by Ober, Fitzgerald elected to send it directly to the Post, which rejected it.
“Temperature” appears in the latest issue of Strand, but will not be posted online for several months. Those unwilling to part with $11.95 can content themselves with another Fitzgerald reject: “Thank You for the Light,” deemed “really too fantastic” by the New Yorker in 1936, but published in the magazine in 2012.
[Insert Go Set a Watchman joke here.]