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Little Bright Eyes: A Contextual Case for ‘The Rich Boy’
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (Linnaeus University Research Center for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0115-4995
2015 (English)In: 13th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference, Dublin and Waterford, 4 - 11 juli, The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society , 2015Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Fitzgerald wrote about his times in his times; it is difficult to imagine a more contextual author. Contemporary music, cinema, newspaper stories, social customs, just to name a few, are integrated in his writing.  Some of his intertexts are clearly visible, distinctly rooted in public imagination beyond particular moments of history. When John M. Chestnut mentions an “intellectual murder in Hoboken” (141) in “Rags Martin-Jones and the Pr-nce of W-les” (1924), it obviously refers to the Leopold and Loeb case that so famously flourished in the press around 1924 and occupied Fitzgerald’s mind for several years. The kidnapping and murder of Robert “Bobby” Franks was often headlined as an “intellectual murder” in media. There are other, much more obscure, intertexts though, and this paper will investigate one of them. In “The Rich Boy” (1926) the following occurs:

The smoke banked like fog, and the opening of a door filled the room with blown swirls of ectoplasm. Little Bright Eyes streaked past the tables seeking Mr. Conan Doyle among the Englishmen who were posing as Englishmen about the lobby. (17)

A modern reader might browse through this scene without really pondering the meaning of “Little Bright Eyes”, but a translator has no other choice than to investigate the matter. Who is “Little Bright Eyes”? There are several options at hand: a children’s book, Little Bright Eyes, published in 1898 by Helen Marion Burnside, a popular song from the late nineteenth century by Westendorf, a German doll from 1915, manufactured by Armand Marseille, reflecting the new image of a child’s cheerful and optimistic attitude, or the Omaha Native girl Susette La Flesche, known as “Bright Eyes”. Clearly any links between these meanings and Fitzgerald are absent as well as why any of these creations should streak past any tables at all. Perhaps the answer can be found in relation to another character om the passage, more celebrated and known – Conan Doyle? Conan Doyle has not written anything about “Little Bright Eyes”, but when one considers the scene’s “swirls of ectoplasm” one moves into the realm of the paranormal and Conan Doyle, besides sketching the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was an avid fan of spiritualism and even wrote a book on the subject called The Coming of the Fairies (1922). Could “Little Bright Eyes” be related to the world of spiritualism, could it be a fairy? One of the more intriguing court cases in the Supreme Court in Brooklyn 1907 was that between Miss Minerva Vanderbilt and her father, the wealthy lumber merchant Edward Ward Vanderbilt. Minerva tried to prove her father insane in order to revoke a will to his second wife, a Mrs. Mary S. Pepper-Vanderbilt, famous spiritualist medium. The case involved several letters sent to Mr. Vanderbilt by his wife’s “spirit control”, known as “Little Bright Eyes”!

This paper relates the intertext of the 1907 court case of “Little Bright Eyes” and Conan Doyle’s fascination of the fairies to the section of “The Rich Boy” in order to both understand Fitzgerald’s transtextual method as well as offering an enhanced reading of the passage. Additionally, the paper comments on the difficulties of translating Fitzgerald, in terms of his contextual literary strategies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society , 2015.
Keyword [sv]
Fitzgerald, noveller, Rikemanspojken, kontext, Conan Doyle, medium
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Humanities, Comparative literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-46146OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-46146DiVA: diva2:852163
Conference
13th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference, Dublin and Waterford, 4 - 11 juli
Available from: 2015-09-08 Created: 2015-09-08 Last updated: 2015-10-12Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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