19 Mar 2020

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Spanish Flu

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fake News Disclaimer: There are apparently reasons to suspect that this is not actually the authentic text of a letter written a century ago by F. Scott Fitzgerald while quarantined in the South of France during the great Spanish Flu pandemic but a more recent composition by someone just pretending to be FSF. But good reading regardless.

Dearest Rosemary,

It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.

HT: JWB.

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One Feedback on "F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Spanish Flu"

GoneWithTheWind

My father was 12 years old during the Spanish flu pandemic. He got the flu and in the city he lived in they came by everyday with a horse drawn wagon to remove the dead and the ill. The dead were of course buried but the ill were brought to a “pest hose” not a hospital. There they had a bed in a rom with 18 other ill people in beds lined up on both sides. The people caring form them were not doctor but simply volunteers who would provide water and little else. The sick people either got well or they died. Obviously my father was one of the lucky ones who got better.



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