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Item 496 - F. Scott Fitzgerald Catalog 313 (Sep 2006)

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Sold Price: $43,217.23 (includes buyer's premium)


Rare and significant ALS, one page, 8 x 10.5, no date [circa 1925–1926]. Fitzgerald writes from Paris to literary agent and editor William C. Lengel regarding plans for a stage adaptation of the Great Gatsby. In full: “Thanks for your letter about Gatsby. Have just had a wire from Brady asking for dramatic rights and wired my agent asking him to see what Brady’s plans are—all this before your letter came, as it went to Cannes & Homer Croy whom I’ve never met. As soon as I get any word I will let you know. Perhaps he has no one in mind for the dramatization & in that case it would much better [sic] if it were done by someone like who already has some plan in his head. With many thanks….” After signing, Fitzgerald adds a postscript and signs again with his initials: “Word has just come that Owen Davis is going to do it for Brady. Thanks many times for your interest.” Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, widely regarded as one of the finest in the English language, was published in spring 1925 to a rather unremarkable reception. Still, with the public’s ever-increasing appetite for entertainment, newly published fiction provided an instant source of material for the stage and screen. With its dramatic force and colorful characterizations, it was only a matter of time before Gatsby would attract attention in showbiz circles, and it first made the jump from page to stage in a semi-successful adaptation by dramatist Owen Davis that ran for 112 performances in 1926. Later that same year, Gatsby, as played by Warner Baxter, made his debut on the silver screen. The novel was filmed at least three more times—most notably in 1974, with a script by Francis Ford Coppola. A new, well-received stage adaptation debuted at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in July 2006, and the novel was even transformed into an acclaimed opera by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer John Harbison. Letters mentioning Gatsby occupy a singular niche at the pinnacle of Fitzgerald’s autograph material, and, indeed, among literary autographs as a whole. The early date, excellent preservation, and spectacular visual appeal of the present example add up to a trophy that no serious collector will let pass without a spirited fight! In fine, bright condition, with faint intersecting mailing folds (one touching signature), small marginal tears (all well away from text; one expertly repaired), vertical filing notation in another hand (“Fitzgerald”) in right margin, and the subtlest suggestion of handling wear—all mentioned for the sake of strictest accuracy, for the item presents most beautifully, indeed. COA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

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