Photo by Open Culture – “F. Scott Fitzgerald Has a Strange Dinner with James Joyce & Draws a Cute Sketch of It (1928)”
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June 27: on this day in 1928 Sylvia Beach (co-owner of the Parisian library-bookstore Shakespeare & Co.) hosted a dinner party so that F. Scott Fitzgerald could meet James Joyce.
According to her, Fitzgerald “worshipped James Joyce, but was afraid to approach him”. So, she decided to hold that dinner party and invite the Joyces, the Fitzgeralds, and other guests.
During the meal, Scott drew a picture in her copy of “The Great Gatsby” in which we can see “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).”
Another guest, Herbert Gorman, who was Joyce’s first biographer, reported that Fitzgerald soon started to act unusually and “sank down on one knee before Joyce, 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.’”
The American writer was so impressed that called that event the “Festival of St. James”
Since he was more than likely drunk on champagne, when he saw an open window he climbed on it announcing he would kill himself unless Joyce’s wife, Nora, said she loved him.
The group managed to persuade him to act sensibly and get down from there, though the episode alarmed the Irish novelist, who exclaimed, “That young man must be mad. I’m afraid he’ll do himself an injury someday.”
Anyway, the bizarre behaviour did not prevent Fitzgerald from obtaining Joyce’s autograph.
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