1922: The debut year of Chanel No. 22.
What a glorious year… So many things were still right in the world in 1922. So many tragic things hadn’t happened yet.
I could have possibly been born in the 1920’s (or earlier)? Hmm… *sigh* Oh well.
But…what about The Sun Also Rises specifically? I’m about to reread that classic tragic novel as per usual. As Hemingway’s friend and contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” The male protagonists in that novel all seem to have at least a brief moment of that sort.
…When I analyzed The Great Gatsby in my junior year of high school I titled the essay, “Daisy’s Demise.” My teacher thought it was decently written but lacked maturity. I can see why she thought that… It’s not the popularly held notion to believe that Daisy doesn’t just walk off free as a bird, thumbing her pretty little nose at everyone at the end of the novel. Fitzgerald thought so himself. But if I recall correctly I had some idea that his character as he wrote her would fall apart… Slowly or quickly but certainly. And it’s funny, because I was right. Ha…
Zelda and Ginevra (Daisy in real life) both had troubles as life progressed. Zelda’s were probably worse but I have a suspicion Ginevra wasn’t the happiest person eventually either. I’d bet she lied to Scott about her burgeoning depression and even used her form of evil to cope with it. And Brett Ashley, a somewhat comparable Hemingway character, died young of pneumonia…having also aged past youth poorly.
The thing is…Daisy accidentally killed her husband’s mistress while driving drunk. And that was directly after being crushed by Gatsby’s inability to save her from herself. And then Gatsby was basically killed by her husband…who continually breaks her heart and probably always will. …That’s a lot to handle psychologically. Unless she was a total cold, heartless sociopath…or psychopath…how could those two things not ache deeply? Sure she pretended exceedingly well. But it was mostly all bluffing…
I can relate to Scott Fitzgerald though. I’ve made the same mistake. Or possibly made the same mistake. I think he either overestimated feminine fitness or underestimated our tendency towards tragedy because he was surrounded by strong women who he either admired or loved. Sometimes was destroyed by. And I’ve made that mistake with men. I tend to see them as untouchable, impossible, and inhuman at their best even if also very lovable. Of course, that’s beyond and in a way apart from the patriarchy… And Scott’s views were despite the patriarchy, of course. I think we’re both wrong. Ha…ha…
Men fall apart. Women fall apart… As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote,
“My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!”
A bright light and then *boom*! Slowly or all at once. For some women and for some men.
Poor Harold Loeb. Poor, dear middleweight champion of Princeton staring off into the ether, crying over a woman who’d die young of pneumonia… A woman he only thought he knew. A woman who likely thought, “He’s good-looking and rich but I could have a long-term romance with that genius Hemingway too if I wanted one. And who knows who else?! …Harold is such a nice fellow but he’s also so very typical. Poor sod!”… Poor man who didn’t see Daisy’s demise as eminent.
Would he have felt sorry for her? Would he have found her weak? Would he have felt scorn? Or would he have realized that he couldn’t stop her if she didn’t want him and wouldn’t listen to him anyway? Heartbroken by her spiritual blindness? Would he have tried to save her as a friend? Would he have been silenced regardless? In his autobiography he still loves her even as he pretends to be over her…in old age. But what if he hadn’t watched her die over time? What if he saw it coming as he sat staring, crying? Would it have mattered?
“Harold, she’s destroying herself. But if she wasn’t lying constantly as a person to live brilliantly and drunkenly how much would you even love her? Whatever you think or do, don’t underestimate how lost she is.”