A LETTER FROM F. SCOTT FITZGERALD,
QUARANTINED IN 1920 IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
DURING THE SPANISH INFLUENZA OUTBREAK
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,
Please pray for us.
(The letter comes via one of my dad’s students from his 2017 seminar “The Literature of Fact.”)
And while we’re sipping our absinthe let’s watch a garden grow!