Sometimes when a historian turns to a literary figure the results are refreshing. Think of David Donald writing about Thomas Wolfe and now David S. Brown on Fitzgerald. I doubt that a literary critic could have written Brown’s account of a masterpiece, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”: “Scott’s critical account of the colonizing of the American West anticipates a school of historiography that would begin to gain influence in the 1970s and 1980s.” Brown calls the story a “powerful condemnation of greed, a direct rebuke to the speculative orgy that was already then coming to grip the 1920s.” The story was too much for The Saturday Evening Post, which regularly paid Fitzgerald $1,500 per story, and he had to accept $300 for its appearance in Smart Set, H. L. Mencken’s bolder magazine unconcerned about ruffling...


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