When F. Scott Fitzgerald Met James Joyce

WIkimedia Commons
WIkimedia Commons / WIkimedia Commons

By 1928, F. Scott Fitzgerald was already a well-established figure in the literary world—but he still wasn’t immune to the tendencies of fandom. When expat and publisher Sylvia Beach invited him to a dinner party with James Joyce (among others), the American author was thrilled, and literally illustrated his enthusiasm.


In her memoir, Shakespeare and Company, Beach wrote:

“Scott worshiped James Joyce, but was afraid to approach him, so Adrienne cooked a nice dinner and invited the Joyces, the Fitzgeralds, and Andre Chamson and his wife, Lucie. Scott drew a picture in my copy of The Great Gatsby of the guests—with Joyce seated at the table wearing a halo, Scott kneeling beside him, and Adrienne and myself, at the head and foot, depicted as mermaids (or sirens).”

His adoration on the “Festival of St. James” (as he dubbed it) didn’t end there. According to Herbert Gorman, who was also in attendance, and who later penned a biography of Joyce, Fitzgerald kneeled before the Ulysses author, “kissed his hand, and declared: ‘How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir, that I could weep.’”

Joyce might not have reciprocated the adoration. Of Fitzgerald, he said: “That young man must be mad. I’m afraid he’ll do himself an injury some day.”

[h/t Austin Kleon]