The Dynamic Friendship of Hemingway and FitzgeraldIn 1930 F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were both working on novels; Fitzgerald was writing Tender is the Night and Hemingway Death in the Afternoon. They were both living in vastly different places and dealing with different types of situations in their lives. Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott’s wife, was hospitalized in Switzerland for the better part of 1930-31 after suffering a mental breakdown. Unfortunately for Scott this meant that he had to put aside his novel writing and write several short stories which would be sold to cover the cost of Zelda’s medical treatment. Hemingway was residing in the United States during this time but also traveled to Spain during this period. There was no correspondence between the two about Zelda’s illness until April, 1931, almost a year after her hospitalization.
In October, 1931 Hemingway and Fitzgerald met but scholars are unclear as to the circumstances surrounding this meeting. Around this time however, the two authors began using Maxwell Perkins, their editor, as a courier for their messages to one another. This seems to show that Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s friendship was drifting apart. Perkins must have sensed this because he began to include news about each of them in his letters to them. It’s thought that perhaps the lack of correspondence between Hemingway and Fitzgerald during this period fell more on the shoulders of Fitzgerald who was beginning to feel guilty about his writing and lack of success. In 1932, Zelda Fitzgerald suffered a relapse of her mental condition and had to be hospitalized again. During her hospitalization she wrote Save Me the Waltz which would be published by Scribner’s in October, 1932. Fitzgerald became uneasy after learning that his wife’s book would be published within months of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon. Fitzgerald worried that Hemingway would resent the fact that Death in the Afternoon would be competing with Zelda’s book.
Hemingway and Fitzgerald met in New York in January 1933. This meeting, however, was ruined because Fitzgerald was in the middle of one of his benders. They met for dinner with their friend Edmund “Bunny” Wilson and most of the evening was spent with Fitzgerald arguing with both Wilson and Hemingway. This meeting furthered Hemingway’s notion that Fitzgerald was a drunken fool who wasted his talent. Hemingway, in a letter to Max Perkins in February 1933, wrote of Fitzgerald: “He’s gone into that cheap irish love of defeat, betrayal of himself etc.