F. Scott Fitzgerald
In 1936, The New Yorker
magazine rejected one F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories about a woman desperately craving nicotine who ends up smoking in a church. Although Fitzgerald was a renowned author who penned one of the great American classics, The Great Gatsby
, he was suffering difficulties by the mid-1930s which is perhaps why the magazine chose not to publish this particular work.
Now, the unpublished story has been given a second chance at publication, after Fitzgerald scholar and editor James West decided to send it again to the magazine which previously rejected it. This time, the story, which is titled Thank You For the Light
, has been met with success, and will be published in this week’s magazine. It is also available to read online
At the time, the magazine claimed that publishing the short story was "altogether out of the question."
"It seems to us so curious and so unlike the kind of thing we associate with him and really too fantastic. We would give a lot, of course, to have a Scott Fitzgerald story and I hope that you will send us something that seems more suitable. Thank you, anyhow, for letting us see this," they wrote
in an internal message.
The story is very brief, and features only one main protagonist – 40-year-old Mrs. Hanson. Having recently moved from the east to the west for work, Mrs. Hanson finds that smoking is even more disapproved upon in her new position than in her last, which is problematic for her as she seeks to find a place to smoke a cigarette. Too embarrassed to smoke on the street, she decides to smoke in a Catholic cathedral, but finds that she has no matches. After falling asleep in the cathedral, she wakes up to find her cigarette has been lit by what she supposes is a heavenly source.
Many have suggested that the story is a reflection with Fitzgerald’s alcoholism, and have related the woman’s craving to a cigarette to Fitzgerald’s own obvious addiction. During the time this story was written, Fitzgerald had far surpassed his better days, and was rapidly engaging in a downward spiral during which his work suffered as a result. In fact, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack just four years after writing the story.
His most famous work, The Great Gatsby
, will soon see its sixth film adaptation to be directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. The film will be released over Christmas this year.