Controversial Novel? – Motive and Misunderstanding in Literature

My literary hero is not an author but an editor (about whom I will write more – much more – in the future). On August 28th 1928 Maxwell Perkins took the time to write an eloquent letter defending his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby after an anonymous reader wrote a letter complaining about how repugnant s/he considered the novel. In his reply, Perkins wrote:
“The author [Fitzgerald] was prompted to write this book by surveying the tragic situation of many people because of the utter confusion of ideals into which they have fallen, with the result that they cannot distinguish the good from the bad. The author did not look upon these people with anger or contempt so much as with pity. He saw the good that was in them, but that it was altogether distorted…The author intended the story to be repugnant and he intended to present it so forcefully and realistically that it would impress itself upon people.”
Amen.

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