May 6, 2014
Uncensored stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald to be released
by Andrew McGrath
A new, unbowdlerized edition of The Taps at Reveille by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the latest volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a series that re-releases Fitzgerald’s stories and novels without the changes imposed by the editors at Scribner and the magazines in which many of his stories were published. The stories in this collection were originally published in The Saturday Evening Post during the late twenties and early thirties; the collection was released in 1935, the last book Fitzgerald published before his death in 1940.
The stories as Fitzgerald wrote them made use of anti-semitic slurs, sexuality, and drug use to accurately capture the environments and personalities that inspired them. The Saturday Evening Post, which had a circulation of six million at its peak in the 1960s, maintained a largely middle class readership and feared that “gritty” material would only alienate subscribers, and removed material that it deemed “offensive” by changing slurs like “Sheeny” to “Jewess” and removing all profanity and references to sex or drug use. According to Pennsylvania State University’s James West, the editor of the series, this led to misconceptions about Fitzgerald as a writer:
“One of the commonplaces of Fitzgerald criticism, for decades, has been that he avoided unpleasant topics and realistic language in his magazine fiction. We can see now that this was not altogether his choice.”
Sarah Churchwell, of The University of East Anglia believes the corrected texts will improve people’s understanding of Fitzgerald, claiming the new edition “will change how people think about Fitzgerald, particularly in his short fiction. He is seen as a very sentimental writer – even in his novels people think his greatest fault is when he crosses the line into sentimentality or romance and becomes less realistic. This shows that this was often not his choice.”