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F. Scott Fitzgerald's
"Babylon Revisited":
A Long Expostulation and Explanation

Thomas A. Larson, M.A.


Contents and Introduction

Chapter 2

A Study of the Texts of "Babylon Revisited":
from the Post to Taps

Part One

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "Babylon Revisited" in December 1930, and the short story was published in The Saturday Evening Post on February 21, 1931. Fitzgerald revised the story for Taps at Reveille, a collection of his short fiction published in 1935, thus leaving us two distinct versions of the story.

The immediate question to be answered is Why two versions? The answer, as Matthew J. Bruccoli states it, is that Fitzgerald "maintained a distinction between magazine and book publication, insisting that inclusion of a story in one of his collections gave it permanence and literary standing" (Preface to The Short Stories xvii). Furthermore, Fitzgerald would not hesitate to lift passages from his magazine work for use in his novels. This necessitated his rewriting the stories, for as Fitzgerald himself put it, "I can't think of anything that would more annoy or disillusion a reader than to find an author using a phrase over and over as if his imagination were starving" (Dear Scott/Dear Max 215).

Thus Fitzgerald revised "Babylon Revisited" for Taps at Reveille, and for both of the reasons stated above, though more for the former than the latter. Nearly a hundred revisions were incorporated; of those, only five passages were revised because of their incorporation into his novel Tender Is the Night, one of which, nevertheless, did appear in Taps, much to Fitzgerald's chagrin.

Letters in Dear Scott/Dear Max, the published correspondence between Fitzgerald and Maxwell Perkins, his publishing editor at Charles Scribner's Sons, illustrate the pressure Fitzgerald put himself under to edit not only "Babylon Revisited" but the other selections for Taps at Reveille as well. Perkins was pushing to get the collection of short stories out as soon as possible after the publication of Tender Is the Night for commercial and critical reasons, hoping to have the book on the shelves by October 1934 (205-206). It would not be published until March 1935. Fitzgerald expressed one reason for delay to Perkins: "the slow thing is to look through Tender Is the Night and see what phrases I took out of the stories. This is confused by the fact that there were so many revisions of Tender that I don't know what I left in it and what I didn't leave in it finally" (202). Perkins responded by writing, "The only question seems to be that of what you have used from the stories in Tender Is the Night. ... This ought to be avoided, of course, but I think it need not be avoided to the very uttermost. There is no reason a writer should not repeat a little in those respects. Hem [Ernest Hemingway] has done it. Anyhow, whatever would hasten the publication of this book would, I think, be worth doing if it could be done (206). Fitzgerald wrote two answers to Perkins concerning this idea. In the first he stated, "I am not in the proper condition either physically or financially to put over the kind of rush job that this would be" (206), and in the second, "The fact that Ernest has let himself repeat here and there a phrase would be no possible justification for my doing the same. Each of us has his virtues and one of mine happens to be a great sense of exactitude about my work. ... It is a question absolutely of self-preservation. ... Besides, it is not only the question of the repetitions but there are certain other stories in the collection that I couldn't possibly think of letting go out in their current form. I fully realize that this may be a very serious inconvenience to you but for me to undertake anything like that at this moment would mean just sudden death and nothing less than that" (207).


The last reason proffered by Fitzgerald to Perkins reflects what he was really doing in respect to "Babylon Revisited"; as aforementioned, the revisions for stylistic and literary purposes greatly outnumber those of simply rewriting or editing to avoid repetition with Tender Is the Night.

I will begin here by examining the repetitions between story and novel presented side by side below, following up with other repetitions and similarities between "Babylon" and Tender, and then I will examine the revisions made for purposes other than to avoid repetition with Tender.

Texts cited below:

Citations from "Babylon Revisited," unless noted otherwise (i.e. the Post version), are from the Taps at Reveille revision as it appears in Matthew J. Bruccoli's edition of The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1989. 616-633).
Citations from Tender Is the Night are from the Scribner Library volume (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1960, 1962).

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
Charlie asked for the head barman, Paul, who in the latter days of the bull market had come to work in his own custom-built car--disembarking, however, with due nicety at the nearest corner. (617) When he returned to the bar Paul had arrived--in his custom-built motor, from which he had disembarked correctly at the Boulevard des Capucines. (101)
Outside, the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs shone smokily through the tranquil rain. It was late afternoon and the streets were in movement; the bistros gleamed. At the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines he took a taxi. The Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty; they crossed the logical Seine, and Charlie felt the sudden provincial quality of the Left Bank. (617) But there was little time to cry, and lovers now they fell ravenously on the quick seconds while outside the taxi windows the green and cream twilight faded, and the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs began to shine smokily through the tranquil rain. It was nearly six, the streets were in movement, the bistros gleamed, the Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty as the cab turned north. (74)
Parents expected genius, or at least brilliance, and both the forcing of children and the fear of forcing them, the fear of warping natural abilities, were poor substitutes for that long careful watchfulness, that checking and balancing and reckoning of accounts, the end of which was that there should be no slipping below a certain level of duty and integrity. (Post 4) He managed to reach them over the heads of employees the principle that both the forcing of children and the fear of forcing them were inadequate substitutes for the long, careful watchfulness, the checking and balancing and reckoning of accounts, to the end that there should be no slip below a certain level of duty. (257)
Marion fiddled with the glass grapes on her necklace and frowned. (Post 82) She fiddled with the glass grapes on her necklace. (215)
... but a walk down the Rue Bonaparte to the quais set him up, and as he crossed the Seine, dotted with many cold moons, he felt exultant. (Post 83) ... opened on the Seine. The river shimmered with lights from the bridges and cradled many cold moons. (60)
He wasn't young any more, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself. (633) He was not young any more with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have about himself, so he wanted to remember them well. (311)

An additional repetition I failed to notice when this thesis was written in 1995 follows:

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
"They were not dull people, but they were very much in the grip of life and circumstances, and their gestures as they turned in a cramped space lacked largeness and grace." (Post 84) "The domestic gestures of Franz and his wife as they turned in a cramped space lacked grace and adventure." (133)

This additional repetition I culled from Reader's Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (Matthew J. Bruccoli with Judith S. Baughman. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. p. 237). That source lists four strippings from the Post's "Babylon Revisited" for use in Tender Is the Night. The others I have covered above.

As much as Fitzgerald had desired to avoid that repetition of lines from short story to novel, apparently the confusion he confessed to concerning his many revisions of Tender Is the Night while preparing Taps at Reveille applies to "Babylon Revisited." From its appearance in The Saturday Evening Post, only the quotations from "Babylon" in the third, fourth, and fifth sets, as well as the additional repetition cited, of passages in the comparison above never made it into Taps. The quotations found in the first and last sets of passages were either ignored or overlooked by Fitzgerald, and the quotation from the second set would not be noticed by him until after Taps was published.

The first set of passages of a repetitious nature found in both "Babylon Revisited" and Tender Is the Night in the comparison above and repeated here

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
Charlie asked for the head barman, Paul, who in the latter days of the bull market had come to work in his own custom-built car--disembarking, however, with due nicety at the nearest corner. (617) When he returned to the bar Paul had arrived--in his custom-built motor, from which he had disembarked correctly at the Boulevard des Capucines. (101)

have either not been noticed by previous scholars or have not warranted comment as, of the three passages that remained in the Taps at Reveille version, they are the ones most dramatically changed in appearance and also would appear to be the most easily forgiven. "Babylon" and Tender both have the bar at the Ritz in Paris as its subject in the first passages, so one might expect Fitzgerald to have this continuity in his fiction. Paul, the head barman, is depicted in Tender Is the Night before the Crash of 1929; in "Babylon Revisited" Paul is looked at retrospectively. Fitzgerald also repeated the name of a patron of the bar: Mr. Schaeffer is mentioned in passing as buying a round in Tender Is the Night (102); in "Babylon Revisited" Charlie Wales's downfall, in part, would be caused by leaving the Peters' address at the Ritz bar for Mr. Schaeffer in the opening scene (616/122). The same Mr. Schaeffer? Why not? Even though the repeating passages, along with the mentioning of Mr. Schaeffer, can be considered acceptable because of their recurring character and setting, they are worth noting because, it must be remembered, this germ for Tender Is the Night made its premiere in "Babylon Revisited" in the Post in 1931, four years before Tender.

The repetition in the last set of passages, repeated here,

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
He wasn't young any more, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself. (633) He was not young any more with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have about himself, so he wanted to remember them well. (311)

is not so easily forgiven. Fitzgerald uses nearly identical wording to express for both Charlie Wales in "Babylon" and Dick Diver in Tender their dismal stages near the end of their respective stories. This is the type of repetition that might "disillusion a reader" and make one wonder if perhaps Fitzgerald's "imagination were starving" (Dear Scott/Dear Max 215). No doubt this was a definite oversight by Fitzgerald, who most deliberately and, eventually, desperately tried to avoid a circumstance such as this from occurring.

The "Babylon Revisited" quotation from the second set of passages, repeated here,

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
Outside, the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs shone smokily through the tranquil rain. It was late afternoon and the streets were in movement; the bistros gleamed. At the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines he took a taxi. The Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty; they crossed the logical Seine, and Charlie felt the sudden provincial quality of the Left Bank. (617) But there was little time to cry, and lovers now they fell ravenously on the quick seconds while outside the taxi windows the green and cream twilight faded, and the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs began to shine smokily through the tranquil rain. It was nearly six, the streets were in movement, the bistros gleamed, the Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty as the cab turned north. (74)

(which is quoted again below as the first of three paragraphs from "Babylon," to be discussed more at length) has sparked much discussion and textual study over the years. Much of the speculation has become moot in light of definitive evidence that Fitzgerald wanted the passage deleted because he had used it in Tender Is the Night. This passage, along with the ensuing two paragraphs, tells of Charlie's taxi ride after he leaves the Ritz bar and heads for the Peters' apartment. These three paragraphs from "Babylon" are presented below, and a brief history of the studies concerning these paragraphs follows, which illustrates the interesting course of scholarship for the textual question at hand.

Outside, the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs shone smokily through the tranquil rain. It was late afternoon and the streets were in movement; the bistros gleamed. At the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines he took a taxi. The Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty; they crossed the logical Seine, and Charlie felt the sudden provincial quality of the Left Bank.

Charlie directed his taxi to the Avenue de l'Opera, which was out of his way. But he wanted to see the blue hour spread over the magnificent façade, and imagine that the cab horns, playing endlessly the first few bars of La Plus que Lent[e], were the trumpets of the Second Empire. They were closing the iron grill in front of Brentano's Book-store, and people were already at dinner behind the trim little bourgeois hedge of Duval's. He had never eaten at a really cheap restaurant in Paris. Five-course dinner, four francs fifty, eighteen cents, wine included. For some odd reason he wished that he had.

As they rolled on to the Left Bank and he felt its sudden provincialism, he thought, "I spoiled this city for myself. I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone." (617-618)

In 1962 Bernth Lindfors (illustrating his bewilderment with a map) puzzled over the route taken by Charlie on the streets of Paris. His brief note is worth reviewing here:

Although F demonstrates a familiarity with Parisian streets and places in "Babylon Revisited," he makes Charlie Wales' first taxi ride a puzzle. Charlie leaves the Ritz Bar and takes a taxi at the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines. He rides past the Place de la Concorde and crosses "the logical Seine." Then F has him direct his taxi "out of the way" to the Avenue de l'Opera--i.e., back across the Seine to a point two blocks from where he started. To get back to the Rue Palatine Charlie must now cross over to the Left Bank a second time. Can Charlie have been so reluctant to meet Lincoln and Marian [sic--Marion] Peters or did F bungle his geography? (77-78)

Lindfors, though raising a question, did not answer it. Picking up where Lindfors left off, a year later Richard R. Griffith, puzzling over the route of the taxi ride as well, theorized that perhaps the second paragraph was a substitute for the last line of the paragraph before it. With this substitution "the inconsistencies in itinerary are readily accounted for" (237). His key was the wording of the descriptions of the Left Bank: its "sudden provincial quality," which is repeated in lines found in both the first and third of the paragraphs: "An author might conceivably become sufficiently confused to have his character cross a river twice going in the same direction, but no competent craftsman would so duplicate his phraseology" (237). Of course it has already been shown that Fitzgerald had an adversity to repetition from short story to novel; it is not difficult to extrapolate the same would be true within the same story.

Related to Griffith's view above, but not previously noted in this regard, is the fact that in the Post version, the reference to the Left Bank in the first paragraph quoted above was not capitalized (3/125), but Fitzgerald did have it capitalized in the revised sentence he wrote for Taps in the third paragraph above. However, though "Left Bank" is capitalized in the first paragraph above, it was not capitalized in the Taps revision (384). One can easily surmise that because Fitzgerald (or some editor) had recognized that "Left Bank" should be capitalized, he did not correct the reference in the first paragraph simply because the reference was to have been deleted.

By 1973 André Le Vot noted that Fitzgerald intended to replace the entire first paragraph with the paragraph following it by noting a letter Fitzgerald wrote to Perkins ("Fitzgerald in Paris" 66, 69 n25). In that letter dated April 15, 1935, Fitzgerald informed Perkins, "Just found another whole paragraph in Taps, top of page 384, which appears in Tender Is the Night. I'd carefully elided it and written the paragraph beneath it to replace it, but the proofreaders slipped and put them both in" (Letters 262). Page 384 in the 1935 edition of Taps at Reveille is, of course, the page on which the paragraphs in question appear, and the second paragraph quoted above is the only new paragraph on that page.

Wondering why there had been no response by editors to this matter, Garry N. Murphy and William C. Slattery raised the issue again in 1981, clearly and forcefully making their case that the first paragraph should be deleted. The title of their article indicates its tone and intent: "The Flawed Text of `Babylon Revisited': A Challenge to Editors, A Warning to Readers," and this was the first study to present the issue in a complete and conclusive fashion.

Despite Murphy's and Slattery's challenge to editors, the passage remains in the latest volume of Fitzgerald's short stories, Bruccoli's 1989 edition. Bruccoli does asterisk the paragraph however, footnoting that "Fitzgerald deleted this paragraph in a marked copy of Taps at Reveille because it was 'Used in Tender.' The excision solves the problem of Charlie's puzzling Right Bank-Left Bank-Right Bank-Left Bank itinerary" (617). The fact that in addition to referring to the paragraph in the letter to Perkins, Fitzgerald also deleted the paragraph in a copy of Taps should have provided all the more reason for at last taking care of this problem.

In addition to all of the above, Tony Buttitta, a bookseller in Asheville, North Carolina, where Fitzgerald lived during the summer of 1935, wrote a memoir of his encounters with Fitzgerald during that time. He recalls the following:

While I spoke I opened Taps at Reveille at page 384, where Fitzgerald had made a notation the night we met. I had discovered it later and wanted him to explain it. He had crossed out a description of Paris at twilight in the story "Babylon Revisited" and written in the margin, "Used in Tender." [Bruccoli later bought this volume, and he used this quote for his note in The Short Stories. (Bruccoli, Letter)] When I showed it to him, he made an annoyed gesture. The proofreader had made a mistake. Fitzgerald had deleted this paragraph in the final proofs of the book, after carefully rewriting it and marking the revision for insertion in its place.

"But some bonehead put in the rewrite without killing that paragraph," he explained. "So you have them both, one after the other. The first was something I had used with slight variation in Tender."

He took the book and turned the pages.

"I asked Max [Perkins] to make sure it would be corrected in future printings -- if there were any. But it will probably stay as it is. ..."

... He turned once more to "Babylon Revisited" and showed me another sentence that he had used almost verbatim in the novel [Is this referring to "He wasn't young any more ..."?]. Probably there were other boners, he said; he had been under a cloud of despair at the time, and didn't remember what he had taken out of the novel and what he had left in it.

"Call it self-plagiarism, which isn't as bad as plagiarizing one's contemporaries," he said. "Someday a professor is going to write an article about these mistakes and some heavyweight critic will praise him for his diligent research." (160-161)

Fitzgerald's foresight expressed in the last paragraph has certainly come to be, as this study has illustrated. Buttitta's memoir only adds to the formidable textual and authorial evidence for deleting the paragraph. But the paragraph remains, now sixty years after the Taps revision first saw print; one only hopes that some brave editor in the future will relegate the paragraph itself to a footnote in the text and in the study of "Babylon Revisited."


Other less dramatic repetitions and similarities between "Babylon Revisited" and Tender Is the Night exist as well. These are presented below:

Texts cited below:

Citations from "Babylon Revisited," unless noted otherwise (i.e. the Post version), are from the Taps at Reveille revision as it appears in Matthew J. Bruccoli's edition of The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1989. 616-633).
Citations from Tender Is the Night are from the Scribner Library volume (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1960, 1962).

Similarities of words or phrases between story and novel include the following:

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
"Charlie saw a group of effeminate young men." (Post 3) ("of effeminate young men" becomes "of strident queens" in Taps; was the change made because of this repetition with Tender or only to strengthen the imagery of "Babylon Revisited", or both?) Mr. Dumphry is described as "a tow-headed effeminate young man." (8)
"Sudden ghosts out of the past" refers to Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles. (622) "[A] ghost of the past" describes Mr. Dumphry. (245)
Charlie "wanted to see the blue hour spread over the magnificent façade." (618) Dick Diver refers to "the magnificent façade of the homeland." (204)
Charlie Wales "liked the people on the streets." (620) Rosemary "liked the people on the streets." (25)
Charlie "wanted to keep himself fresh and new for the thing he must say then" (624) and later the Seine is described as "fresh and new by the quai lamps." (627) (This latter quotation is ironic for Fitzgerald because he deliberately rewrote this particular passage in order to avoid repetition with Tender: he not only repeated his own turn of phrase from within "Babylon," but the phrase had also been used in Tender.) Rosemary "glowed away fresh and new in the morning sunshine." (212)
The Peters "couldn't be expected to accept with equanimity the fact that his [Charlie's] income was again twice as large as their own." (626) Rosemary "contemplated a surrender with equanimity" (24)
and later a patient tells Dick Diver "If I knew what I had done to deserve this I could accept it with equanimity." (184)
Charlie bought presents for the Peters, including "big linen handkerchiefs for Lincoln" and "a box of Roman soldiers" for Richard. (630) Nicole Diver bought "big linen handkerchiefs for Abe" (55), and later "Greek and Roman soldiers for her son." (97)

Similarities of a more thematic nature between "Babylon" and Tender include the following:

"Babylon Revisited" Tender Is the Night
Charlie Wales "suddenly realized the meaning of the word 'dissipate'--to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out of something" (620) and Charlie later wonders "How many weeks or months of dissipation to arrive at that condition of utter irresponsibility?" (629) "There were the Americans and English who had been dissipating all spring and summer" (72), Nicole Diver wonders "Why is it just Americans who dissipate?" (100), and "it was remarked that Baby's younger sister had thrown herself away on a dissipated doctor." (287)
People stared at Honoria "as if she were something no more conscious than a flower." (622) Dick Diver finds the children "surrounded by women who were examining them with delight like fine goods." (191)
Lorraine Quarrles is described as one "who had helped them make months into days in the lavish times of three years ago." (622) A chauffeur recall "Russian princes turning the weeks into Baltic twilights in the lost caviare days." (15)
Charlie Wales tells the Peters that "when her mother and I weren't getting along well we never let anything that happened touch Honoria." (624) Nicole says Dick "always did his best never to let anything hurt me." (312)
Charlie says family quarrels are "not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material." (630) "One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still." (168)

These similarities, both in Fitzgerald's use of similar words and phrases and in thematically related passages, though not always of an obvious repetitive nature, at the least provide clues that both "Babylon Revisited" and Tender Is the Night were written by the same author. More than that, though, the story and novel truly are closely related, perhaps more than previously thought, both in wording and in their themes. The thematically related repetitions contribute, along with the obvious repetition of the line "He wasn't young any more, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself" ("Babylon" 618; Tender 311), of Fitzgerald's comprehension, imparted in both story and novel, that time flows on, and one's acts of folly are fated to have repercussions in the future.


Related to the passages Fitzgerald lifted from "Babylon Revisited" for use in Tender Is the Night are three other passages from "Babylon" which also appear in his Notebooks and one passage from the Post version that was used in an Fitzgerald's November 1931 essay "Echoes of the Jazz Age," reprinted posthumously in the The Crack-Up.

Bruccoli's introduction to The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald tells us that Fitzgerald "began keeping his Notebooks with a special purpose in mind. He needed a place in which to bank the strippings from his short stories" (ix). The three passages from "Babylon" left in the notebooks appear below; one presumes that Fitzgerald would have wanted to delete them once their retention in "Babylon" was ascertained by the publishing of Taps at Reveille.

It was not an American bar any more--he felt polite in it, and not as if he owned it. It had gone back into France. (Notebooks 65 n458; The Short Stories 616)

Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material. (Notebooks 192 n1261; The Short Stories 630)

Josephine Baker's chocolate arabesques. (Notebooks 222 n1421; The Short Stories 619)

The following passage from the Post version was based on a true incident, which Fitzgerald related in his retrospective article on the era, "Echoes of the Jazz Age": "the human mosaic of pearls who sat behind them at the Russian ballet and, when the curtain rose on a scene, remarked to her companion: 'Luffly; just luffly. Zomebody ought to baint a bicture of it' " (84); in "Echoes" Fitzgerald wrote, "I remember a fat Jewess, inlaid with diamonds, who sat behind us at the Russian ballet and said as the current rose, 'Thad's luffly, dey ought to baint a bicture of it' " (21-22). The passage was dropped from "Babylon Revisited" in the revision made for Taps at Reveille.


Although the passages that found their way from "Babylon Revisited" to Tender Is the Night (and "Echoes of the Jazz Age") stand out sheerly from the number of words involved, the majority of the revisions F. Scott Fitzgerald made on the story as it graduated from The Saturday Evening Post to Taps at Reveille were revisions with an aim toward basic editing, enhancing imagery, clarification in matters of plot and dialogue, and strengthening of characterization and theme. Furthermore, out of the repetitious passages that were dropped, only one was not replaced in some way. Fitzgerald's intent in writing the replacement passages cannot, then, be perceived as revisions made solely for the purposes of avoiding repetition, in that the replacement passages themselves must in some way contribute to the overall form and meaning of "Babylon Revisited." In fact, the replacement passages themselves are more closely tied thematically to the remaining text than the original passages.

I uncovered approximately 110 instances of editing and revisions. This number may vary depending on the method one uses to determine such a count. I was more likely to count two or more changes where others might count only one. An analysis of the following passage as it appears in the two versions of "Babylon Revisited" provides a case in point:

Saturday Evening Post Taps at Reveille
the human mosaic of pearls who sat behind them at the Russian ballet and, when the curtain rose on a scene, remarked to her companion: "Luffly; just luffly. Zomebody ought to baint a bicture of it." Men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid some money. (Post 84) the women and girls carried screaming with drink or drugs out of public places--

--The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid some money. (633)

The Post version of this passage was revised because the opening imagery in the excerpt was used in "Echoes of the Jazz Age." The revised line constitutes one change in itself. However, other changes occur that are overshadowed by the revised line. The use of dashes and making the second line a paragraph of its own must be considered a second change; the pause and the newly emphasized importance of the second line is more indicative of Charlie's assessment of the past and of himself. The definite article placed before "men" is a third change, which tends to consolidate the images with the era, instead of creating images that might be construed as being merely happenstance. Three changes, then, in what otherwise might be considered a single revision; certainly not all revisions are to be construed as involved as this one example, but others do exist.


What follows now is a discussion of the impact Fitzgerald's revisions had on the text and its ultimate effect on an understanding of the story.


Matters of simple editing in the cleanup of "Babylon Revisited" for Taps at Reveille include the following: capitalization of the nickname "the Snow Bird" (3/616); returning to the Post's spellings of words such as "travelled" and "sceptically," (3/616, 5/622, respectively); correction of a proper name like "Le Grand Vatel" for "the Grand Vatel" (4/620); uniting two paragraphs about the Ritz bar (3/616); the separation of the following two sentences of a paragraph into two separate paragraphs: " 'Good-by.' Honoria bobbed politely" (5/623); and clarification of ambiguous pronouns, such as the substitution of "her father" for "him" (4/621). The types of changes that these examples represent generally may be seen as inconsequential in terms of the story's plot and theme.


Other revisions made by Fitzgerald were an express attempt to improve the language of "Babylon Revisited," which resulted in enhanced imagery and clarification in matters of plot and dialogue (but see Part Two for revisions that did cause some textual problems).

Some revisions of wording seem simply designed to make the language more poetic and imaginal. Note the substituting of "strident queens" for "effeminate young men" (3/617); the reference to homosexuals is harshened by the use of the adjective "strident." A description of Charlie Wales is changed from "a handsome man" to "good to look at" (4/618). The name of the person whom Helen is remembered as kissing on that terrible night in the past is changed from "Ted Wilder" to "young Webb" (83/628); "young" making a pointed reference to a difference in ages between Helen and the object of this night's affectations, while Webb conjures up images of a web and entanglements. To the first interview of "a buxom Breton peasant" Charlie now interviews a second governess, "a cross Béarnaise" (83/628). One last example will suffice to close on these representative examples of enhanced imagery, once again involving the Ritz bar: in the pneumatique Charlie received at his hotel, Charlie reads that Lorraine "will look for you about five in the sweat-shop at the Ritz" instead of "will look for you about five at the bar" (83/629). The examples presented here demonstrate Fitzgerald's attempts to strengthen the language of "Babylon Revisited," revisions that bear very little on plot, but contribute to the overall imagery presented in the story. And more than any of the other revisions that had specific purposes, such as editing or revising for purposes of plot or reinforcement of characterization or to avoid repetition with Tender Is the Night, these types of revisions show the extent to which Fitzgerald was working on "Babylon Revisited" in preparation for its inclusion in Taps at Reveille.

Fitzgerald also made revisions that were of a clarifying nature involving dialogue and plot. Some were rather mundane; for example, the words "Charlie said" are added in the middle of Charlie's speech to Alix: " 'No, no more,' Charlie said, 'I'm going slow these days' " (3/617). Others are more involved with the plot, such as Charlie's boasting of his income: "My income last year was bigger than it was when I had money" is substituted for "my income is bigger than it was when I had money" (4/618); the new line clarifies the time frame of Charlie's rise in fortunes once more. Other revisions affecting time and chronology include two references to the lavish times being changed from "two years ago" to "three years ago" (5/622, 82/624); these revisions are Fitzgerald's attempts at dealing with the chronological history of Charlie's past, and they do aid in that chronology; however, some problems of time remain (see Part Two of this chapter for these). On a point of time involving a different matter, "for an hour" is omitted from the following reference of Charlie's remembrance of that terrible night during which Helen "had wandered about in slippers" (83/628); the revision eliminates the unnecessarily narrow time frame. In another matter of clarification, Duncan, speaking to Charlie, states, "Lorraine and I insist that all this [chichi] cagy business 'bout your address got to stop"; the words " 'bout your address," have been added, which specifies what the cagy business was all about (84/631). Whether Fitzgerald changed, added or omitted words, these revisions were done with the reader in mind, in order to avoid potential points of confusion.


The revisions that matter most are those that involve theme and characterization, and Fitzgerald made no lack of these. Notable in "Babylon Revisited" are revisions that connect the story with the era and revisions that affect Marion's and Charlie's characters; revisions concerning the character of Charlie Wales are by far the most extensive changes made in the story.

Revisions connecting "Babylon Revisted" to its time, which take the story beyond being a mere story of a man recovering from alcoholism trying to regain custody of his daughter, include Fitzgerald's specifically naming the Ritz bar in Paris as the bar in the opening and closing scenes. The Post version did not specify the bar's name, but identifying it as the Ritz raises certain connotations. In the particular eras of the 1920s and 1930s, the Ritz was known as a bar where Americans (tourists or those living abroad) congregated in Paris. To be fair to Fitzgerald, the Ritz was in his original typescript for "Babylon Revisited". The Post apparently deleted Fitzgerald's references to the Ritz.

One reference to the Ritz included an important revision: The sentence in the Post reads, "But the stillness in the bar was strange, almost portentous,"and the revised sentence states, "But the stillness in the Ritz bar was strange and portentous" (3/616). The change from was almost to was portentous is not only a very definite foreshadowing of Charlie's fate but also a recognition of the fate of the Jazz Age. The fact that the Ritz bar in Paris is still, when it formerly teemed with Americans abroad, and Americans with money at that, is a sign of the times: the Depression settling in for the long haul.

Another example was touched on earlier in an explanation of my enumerating system of Fitzgerald's revisions; the revised passage appears again here:

... the women and girls carried screaming with drink or drugs out of public places--

--The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid some money. (633)

The first line was Fitzgerald's revision; it was written to parallel the line that follows it, which did appear in the Post version. Even though the image of the men locking their wives out in the snow recalls Charlie's own action on one occasion, it is extrapolated, along with the revised line that speaks of the women and girls carried screaming with drink or drugs out of public places, to represent the decadence of the decade; Charlie is no longer thinking just of his own dissipation but is projecting it into the times in which he lived.

Marion Peters is Charlie's foil in "Babylon Revisited," and a few revisions were made to strengthen her role in that regard. Fitzgerald substitutes "unalterable" for "unshakable" in the following passage: "she [Marion] minimized her expression of unalterable distrust by directing her regard toward his [Charlie's] child" (4/618). The words are synonyms, but unalterable carries with it the stonger connotation, which springs from their bases: to alter means to change, while to shake, in this regard, means merely to weaken. Marion's distrust of Charlie may be weakened (and it is momentarily when Honoria is to be allowed to leave for Prague with Charlie), but there is no hope her distrust can ever be changed (Honoria, in the end, is not allowed to leave). The change from "unshakable" to "unalterable" foreshadows the ending and Marion's ultimate attitude toward Charlie.

A cut in dialogue that Fitzgerald makes in the story relates to Marion's "unalterable distrust" of Charlie. In the Post version, Marion says, "If you behave yourself in the future I won't have any criticism" (84); it was not in Marion's character to say such a thing: her unalterable distrust and "the instinctive antipathy between" Marion and Charlie prevented it (619). Furthermore, as far as Charlie is concerned, his own behavior would have nothing to do with his reversal of fortune, but rather the behavior of those "ghosts out of the past" (622), Duncan and Lorraine, at the Peters' apartment (631).

One other noteworthy reflection on Marion was a revision Fitzgerald made as a result of a repetition in Tender Is the Night. The new line states, "Marion played with the black stars on her necklace and frowned," which replaced the original "Marion fiddled with the glass grapes on her necklace and frowned" (82/624). Because of the repetition in Tender, Fitzgerald changed the verb and, more importantly, the charms on the necklace. The black stars clearly symbolize the dark and ominous fate Marion holds in store for Charlie; the revision makes a true improvement in the text. Overall, the revisions that Fitzgerald made regarding the character reinforced Marion's own shortcomings and solidified her role in opposition to Charlie in his struggle to regain Honoria.

Revisions affecting the character of Charlie Wales were in the main an attempt by Fitzgerald to remove any traces of doubt that the reader might have in regard to Charlie's reformed nature; unfortunately, some doubts have remained, mainly those regarding the whole business of the address and Charlie's return to the Ritz bar.

Revisions that fortify the regenerated Charlie Wales are found throughout "Babylon Revisited." At the onset, when Charlie reveals his reformed state to Alix after he declines a second drink, Alix's response, "Hope you stick to it, Mr. Wales" is dropped (3). In addition to the fact that a waiter has no business saying such a thing, the line also raises the possibility that Charlie won't stick to it; a doubt that Fitzgerald does not wish to present in the story.

Shortly thereafter, a smile from Charlie's face is switched to Alix's face when Charlie tells Alix about being in Prague. The Post reads, " 'They don't know about me down there.' He smiled faintly."; the revision reads, " 'They don't know about me down there.' ¶ Alix smiled" (3/616). A smile from Charlie at this point might be taken as cunning recognition of misleading his business associates in Prague about his past. Alix can smile, for that is no doubt what Alix believes.

A new paragraph written to replace a passage Fitzgerald had used in Tender Is the Night more fully connects to Charlie's thoughts found in the ensuing paragraph. The new paragraph has Charlie, after leaving the Ritz, seeing and hearing, really, for the first time, the images and sounds of Paris: the magnificent façade of the Opéra, the cab horns playing Debussy, the trim little bourgeois hedge of Duval's, which makes him think, "He had never eaten at a really cheap restaurant in Paris. ... For some odd reason he wished that he had" (618). In the ensuing paragraph, Charlie has these thoughts: "I spoiled this city for myself. I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone" (618). The images and sounds found in the new paragraph introduce material that gives him reason to think that he had spoiled this city for himself. In turn, these thoughts serve to bolster Charlie's reformation as he views the elements in Paris that lead him into a recognition of the folly of his past.

Later in the story, Fitzgerald drops a reference to D. H. Lawrence: "for Charlie had read in D. H. Lawrence about the injury that a father can do to a daughter" becomes "for he knew the injury that a father can do to a daughter" (83/628); D. H. Lawrence would not be an author whose works could be condoned by people such as Marion, and the people she symbolizes, of that era, and so Lawrence being on Charlie's reading list could call into question Charlie's own character.

A significant revision occurs in Lorraine's spiteful words to Charlie before exiting the Peters' apartment in the climactic scene. Her speech in the Post reads, "But I remember, when you used to hammer on my door, I used to be enough of a good sport to give you a drink," while the revision reads, "But I remember once when you hammered on my door at four A.M. I was enough of a good sport to give you a drink" (84/631). Charlie's past is not as harshly drawn out in Lorraine's revised recollection. The Post statement indicates that this was regular behavior on Charlie's part; the revision limits the knocking on Lorraine's door to but once. Incidental to this revision, though certainly not incidental to the story, is how Fitzgerald parallels the one occasion of Charlie's knocking on Lorraine's door to occur at four o'clock in the morning, which parallels Helen's own actions on that fateful night that Marion "never forgot" (628).

Other revisions also lessen Charlie's personal culpability in regards to the past. In the passage where Charlie remembers that terrible night, the two specific references to Charlie and Helen are dropped in favor of pronouns. The revised passage follows:

On that terrible February night that Marion remembered so vividly, a slow quarrel had gone on for hours. There was a scene at the Florida, and then he attempted to take her home, and then she kissed young Webb at a table; after that there was what she had hysterically said. When he arrived home alone he turned the key in the lock in wild anger. How could he know she would arrive an hour later alone, that there would be a snowstorm in which she wandered about in slippers, too confused to find a taxi? Then the aftermath, her escaping pneumonia by a miracle, and all the attendant horror. (628)

The dropping of the two specific references to Charlie and Helen is noteworthy; they are now nameless, mere shadows of themselves, indicating the people of that terrible February night are not the true Charlie and Helen. As regards Charlie, who later thinks, "Locking out Helen didn't fit in with any other act of his life" (629), the substitution of the pronoun for his name is further evidence that the real Charlie, the present Charlie, was not the Charlie of that terrible night.

More evidence of Fitzgerald's rebuilding of Charlie's past occurs when the words "toward the end" are added to Lincoln's speech to Charlie: "I think Marion felt there was some kind of injustice--you not even working toward the end, and getting richer and richer" (83/629). The words "toward the end" recognize that Charlie had been working before "the end," whereas the speech without it leaves the impression of an idle Charlie who in no way earned his prosperity.

Other minor examples serve to round out this part of the discussion of revisions with which Fitzgerald intended take care of any doubts about Charlie's reformation:

The words "with the other children" did not appear in the original version of this sentence: "Only on his lap did she whisper her delight and the question 'When?' before she slipped away with the other children" (84/630); the added phrase makes clear why Honoria was slipping away, in order to avoid any possible negative connotations that she in some figurative way was slipping away from Charlie.

Finally, Lorraine's revised comments to Charlie, "See you so sel'om. Or solemn," while at the Peters' apartment (84/631), indicates that she, even in the state she is in, recognizes something is different, a new mood emanating from Charlie.

Lorraine does recognize something different in Charlie Wales, and much of what is different about Charlie are the revisions F. Scott Fitzgerald made in regards to his character. With every single revision made in the story that affects Charlie's character, Fitzgerald attempted to leave no doubt in the reader's mind as to the reliability of his reformation. For the most part, he was successful, but questions remain about the extent of Charlie's rebound, which for the most part center on Charlie's tragic flaw, the leaving of the Peters' address at the Ritz bar in the opening scene. The revisions Fitzgerald made concerning the matter of how Duncan and Lorraine happen to come to the Peters' apartment lead into an examination of this issue of the address and its subsequent effect on the story.


The address. This more than anything else has called into question the mastery that Charlie Wales has over past problems.

Why does Charlie, knowing he had left the Peters' address at the Ritz bar upon his arrival in Paris, act surprised when Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles barge in at the Peters' apartment?*

* = Another question that causes problems is Why did Charlie Wales leave the Peters' address at the Ritz bar, of all places? One can also ask Why does Charlie find it necessary to make a stop at the Ritz at all? That in itself causes problems.

I believe the answers to these questions come from looking at Charlie's process of rehabilitation. His recovery is yet in progress in that, at the opening of the story, he is not quite sure just what role his surroundings had in his dissipation, which is certainly a latent purpose for his return to Paris, affirmed in his extensive tour of Paris after dinner at the Peters': "He was curious to see Paris by night with clearer and more judicious eyes than other days" (619). Charlie, then, during the course of the story, is coming to terms with his past as he explores these settings of his former forays.

Furthermore, it would not be out of character for any person to inquire about and want to get in touch with old friends with whom one had not had any prior falling out. In the opening scene, Charlie is not yet aware of Duncan Schaeeffer's continued life like those days of old, but, as soon as Charlie becomes aware, he immediately distances himself from Duncan and from Lorraine Quarrles; all textual evidence clearly shows this.

And lastly, though maybe a bit much, even Jesus placed Himself in the presence of the Tempter; I recognize Charlie is no Jesus, but the point, hopefully, is made.

In the beginning he recognizes that the Ritz bar "oppressed him" (617), but Charlie can return there at the end, with the manifest "furious idea of finding Lorraine and Duncan" (632), but in doing so does not succumb to the place or his past; as James B. Twitchell states, "if ever there was an appropriate time to go on a bender, it is now" (159); Charlie's resolve is shown, and by the end of the story, he has come to terms with this setting's role in his past weaknesses.

The answer to the question posed above lies in a study of the text and the textual changes that were made from the Post to Taps.


"Babylon Revisited" opens with Charlie Wales making a return visit to the Ritz bar in Paris. In the course of his conversation with Alix, a waiter,

Charlie scribbled an address in his notebook and tore out the page.

"If you see Mr. Schaeffer, give him this," he said. "It's my brother-in-law's address. I haven't settled on a hotel yet." (616)

This leaving of the address at the Ritz bar at this point in the story is at the crux of problems caused by later references in the story to Charlie's address while in Paris. Upon first arriving in Paris, Charlie is willing to meet with Mr. Schaeffer, and why shouldn't he? Mr. Schaeffer is an old friend whom Charlie has not seen in quite some time, and Charlie has no idea that Mr. Schaeffer is still inhabiting a way of life that Charlie has cast aside. Charlie's willingness to meet Mr. Schaeffer, however, changes immediately upon his first encounter with Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles:

Going out of the restaurant, a man and a woman unexpectedly hailed him.

"Well, the old Wales!"

"Hello there, Lorraine. ... Dunc."

Sudden ghosts out of the past ... (622)

Charlie is greeted excitedly by the pair, but he returns the exclamation with a decidedly cautious greeting of his own--no exclamation point here--and they are quickly referred to as "ghosts out of the past"; they have not changed, and Charlie fears something from these "ghosts."

The next reference to Charlie's address comes during the encounter with Duncan and Lorraine at Le Grand Vatel:

"What about coming back and sitting down? Duncan asked.

"Can't do it." He was glad for an excuse. As always, he felt Lorraine's passionate, provocative attraction, but his own rhythm was different now.

"Well, how about dinner?" she asked.

"I'm not free. Give me your address and let me call you."

"Charlie, I believe you're sober," she said judicially. "I honestly believe he's sober, Dunc. Pinch him and see if he's sober."

Charlie indicated Honoria with his head. They laughed.

"What's your address?" said Duncan sceptically.

He hesitated, unwilling to give the name of his hotel.

"I'm not settled yet. I'd better call you. We're going to see the vaudeville at the Empire." (623)

This exchange demonstrates the wall Charlie is building between himself and Duncan and Lorraine. Charlie was glad he had the excuse of Honoria being with him so he would not need to get tangled up with this pair, and he is not willing to reveal his hotel's name. Although he feels Lorraine's attraction, "his own rhythm was different now"; Charlie recognizes the differences between himself and these personal remnants of his past.

Charlie is also taking on the role of father, wanting to protect Honoria from this scene, "He indicated Honoria with his head" as a signal to Duncan and Lorraine to remember a child was present, but "They both laughed." James M. Harrison criticizes Charlie at this point by stating, "He can brag about his moderate drinking to Lincoln Peters; he can speak of it with satisfaction even to the bartender; but he cannot bring himself to admit it to his former playmates"; what Harrison fails to note is how Honoria was present, and how that fact affected Charlie's conversation and behavior.*

* = The typescript did have Charlie telling Lorraine and Duncan, "What's more, I've been so [sober] for months, for over a year" (437).

Note also that when Duncan asked, "What's your address?", he asked it sceptically. Duncan's misgivings may be about Charlie's sobriety, about his concern for his daughter, or, logically, the question to which it was attached. Why would Duncan at this point be sceptical about Charlie's address? The only answer is that he senses something very different about the Charlie of the present. Charlie's evasion of Duncan's question is noteworthy, as it leads to further passages concerning the address.

The next passage referring to Charlie's address is one that was revised for its appearance in Taps at Reveille. The revised passage follows:

Back at his hotel, Charlie found a pneumatique that had been redirected from the Ritz bar where Charlie had left his address for the purpose of finding a certain man. (629)

The passage is clearly third person narration of the action, and not Charlie's misremembrance of facts. As such, it cannot refer to the original note left for Duncan Schaeffer at the Ritz bar, because that address was for the Peters' apartment, not for the hotel. The certain man is not, then, Duncan Schaeffer, as David Toor (161) and Kenneth McCollum (315) have it, but some other person unknown to us. Furthermore, Robert I. Edenbaum believes "Fitzgerald (and his critics) seems to have forgotten the moment at the very start of the story [when Charlie left the Peters' address at the Ritz]" (28); how anyone can believe this, when the matter of the address is so critical to the plot, is beyond comprehension. The fact that Fitzgerald made a number of revisions concerning the address demonstrates Fitzgerald's very awareness of its importance.

The following passage is the Post's version of the matter on the pneumatique:

Back at his hotel, Charlie took from his pocket a pneumatique Lincoln had given him at luncheon. It had been redirected by Paul from the bar. (83)

This might be a more believable route, as McCollum states (316 n5), but Fitzgerald made the revision, and apparently with some purpose in mind. It could have been a matter of not wanting to have Lincoln be the courier, especially for a note redirected from a bar, which, as a revision, would go along with all the others in which Charlie is treated in a more favorable light; other revisions concerning the address may be thought of likewise. More importantly, the revised passage introduces the fact that Charlie must have had some additional contact with someone, probably Alix, at the Ritz bar. This additional contact is reaffirmed in the next mention of Charlie's address, which also was revised from the Post version. After Charlie read that pneumatique from Lorraine,

He emphatically did not want to see her, and he was glad Alix had not given away his hotel address. (630)

The point of view is Charlie's here, and, without the previous revised passage in which the neutral point of view stated the pneumatique had been redirected to the hotel from the bar, we could say that perhaps Charlie is misremembering the facts. But we cannot say that. Charlie must have, in some way, been in touch with Alix at the Ritz bar. Did Charlie return to the Ritz? Did he phone? Did he sent a pneumatique? Unfortunately we are not given answers in the story. Whatever the method of communication, the implication is that Alix received the hotel address with new instructions. Was Alix told to get rid of the Peters' address? Was Alix told specifically that Duncan Schaeffer (and Lorraine Quarrles) were not to receive either address? Further references to the address seem to answer these questions in the affirmative.

When Duncan and Lorraine barge in at the Peters' apartment,

For a moment Charlie was astounded; unable to understand how they ferreted out the Peters' address. (631)

Clearly the word "ferreted" indicates that it was possible to get the Peters' address, but it would involve some work. The address must have been obtained from the Ritz bar, though we are not told that directly. Alix would have knowledge of both addresses, as might anyone at the Ritz who had access to these types of notes lying about the bar. If Alix did not dispose of the first note, any employee at the Ritz could have given the address to Duncan and Lorraine. If Alix did dispose of the first note, Duncan and Lorraine would have had to ferret the Peters' address out of him. We can almost imagine Lorraine's "passionate, provocative attraction" (623/135) being used on Alix to obtain the address.

The passage quoted above had been a revision of the Post, which had read, "For a moment Charlie was astounded; then he realized they had got the address he had left at the bar" (84). The revision Fitzgerald made indicates he was trying to make it a little bit harder for Duncan and Lorraine to obtain the address, and to lessen Charlie's own role in what would cause his downfall, the leaving of the Peters' address at the Ritz bar; a revision that, once again, serves to improve Charlie's image.

While at the Peters', Duncan tells Charlie,

"We came to invite you out to dinner. Lorraine and I insist that all this [chichi], cagy business 'bout your address got to stop." (631)

What chichi, cagy business? The words imply that Duncan and Lorraine had been encountering some trouble in obtaining Charlie's address, but in the text Duncan asked Charlie directly about his address only once, the time at Le Grand Vatel when Charlie evaded a direct answer. This one inquiry would hardly qualify as "all this [chichi], cagy business" and demonstrates that Duncan and Lorraine had been having trouble elsewhere uncovering Charlie's address; where else but the Ritz would that place be? Of course they had just left the Ritz bar before arriving at the Peters'; Lorraine's pneumatique had stated she would be looking for Charlie at the Ritz about five o'clock (629). This serves as an additional indication that Charlie had been in contact with the Ritz and told Alix not to divulge his address to Duncan and Lorraine specifically or in general to anyone other than "a certain man" (629).

The last reference in the story to the address was one that was also revised. The passage from both the Post and the revision appear below:

Saturday Evening Post Taps at Reveille
I didn't tell them to come here. They wormed this address out of Paul at the bar. They deliberately-- (84) "I didn't tell them to come here. They wormed your name out of somebody. They deliberately-- (632)

The reference to Paul at the bar is dropped in the revision. Charlie had stumbled once before in mentioning the bar at the Peters' (619); he would be smart enough not to mention it again. For the Post version, this was a lie, as Toor recognizes (161), since the Post also contains the paragraph in which Lincoln had handed Charlie the pneumatique that had been redirected from the bar (83). But this would not have been a lie in the revision, once Lincoln had been taken out of the equation (Alix, however, would have been the more likely reference; the conversation between Charlie and Paul in the last scene of "Babylon Revisited" indicates that Charlie had not encountered Paul before this time). More importantly, Toor believes this revision shows Charlie continuing "his self-delusion without any real fear that Lincoln would know that Charlie was responsible" (161). In light of this point-by-point discussion on the texts, nothing could be further from the truth. There is no self-delusion on Charlie's part; the self-delusion is on those who insist on analyzing and dissecting Charlie Wales while ignoring or dismissing Marion's role as Charlie's foil in "Babylon Revisited."

Charlie Wales left the Peters' address at the Ritz bar. Textual evidence shows Charlie had some further contact with Alix at the Ritz bar. That Fitzgerald did not include the scene in the story leads only to speculation. In light of how the text demonstrates Charlie's resolve in his reformation, in light of the revisions that Fitzgerald effected in the story only strengthen Charlie's character, and in light of the revisions concerning the address, the conclusion must be reached that the leaving of the Peters' address at the Ritz bar was only an innocent action on Charlie's part.

That Fitzgerald may have made a critical lapse in this regard (with ambiguity) is neither here nor there as far as Charlie Wales is concerned; one can only go by what the text says. Therefore, to infer detrimentally upon the character of Charlie Wales is more a judgment of Fitzgerald's writing than a judgment of Charlie himself. For everything--the story's origins, the text itself, the revisions effected--indicates Fitzgerald's intentions of presenting a strong Charlie Wales, properly cognizant of the effects of his behavior in the past on the present. And, further, that Marion's own failings were to be seen as the primary cause of Charlie's present failure to regain Honoria. If Fitzgerald failed in getting that across, then the story itself has problems, not Charlie.


A facsimile of a surviving typescript of "Babylon Revisited" was published in The F. Scott Fitzgerald Manuscripts in 1991. The facsimile was made from the document found in the Princeton University Library, the typescript itself being 8½" x 11" onionskin, "revised in pencil and red and blue pencil" (Manuscripts Vol. VI, Pt. 1: xvi).

Comparing the typescript with the story that resulted from it reveals Fitzgerald the writer. Revisions greatly improved the wording and language of the story. Characterization was noticeably enhanced with revision: in the typescript Lincoln is portrayed too meekly as Marion's puppet; Marion's reasons for her prejudice against Charlie are unnecessarily enumerated; and Honoria awkwardly sees herself as a surrogate wife for Charlie, the reference to D. H. Lawrence being more fully played out.


Fitzgerald improved the language of the story greatly with his revision of the typescript. Case in point:

Typescript Saturday Evening Post
This was not casual boasting, he was putting every word to a purpose ... (424) His boasting was for a specific purpose ... (4)

Dialogue was sharpened and enriched as well, which the following exchange between Marion and Charlie demonstrates:

Typescript Saturday Evening Post
"Well, how do you find your daughter?" she asked.

"She looks fine. I was astonished how pretty she's grown in the last ten months. All the children look well."

"They're never sick. We havn't [sic] had a doctor for a year," Letting this faint challenge sink in she changed the subject.

" How do you find Paris?"

"It's a curious feeling not to see any Americans around."

"A good thing too," said Margaret [Marion] vehemently, "the type that was coming over here a few years ago wasn't much of an advertisement for the country. Now at least you can go into a store without their assuming you're a millionaire. We've suffered by the break but on the whole it's a good deal pleasanter." (424-425)

"Well, how do you find Honoria?" she asked.

"Wonderful. I was astonished how much she's grown in ten months. All the children are looking well."

"We haven't had a doctor for a year. How do you like being back in Paris?"

"It seems very funny to see so few Americans around."

"I'm delighted," Marion said vehemently. "Now at least you can go into a store without their assuming you're a millionaire. We've suffered like everybody, but on the whole it's a good deal pleasanter." (4)

The variations of the following passage illustrate its development from the typescript to the Post and finally to Taps at Reveille:

Typescript Saturday Evening Post Taps at Reveille
It was arranged that Honoria was to spend the following afternoon with him, and her face lit up with delight. He saw at dinner how much like him she was and at the same time how much like her mother. Fortunate if she combined the solider traits of both instead of the ones that had brought them disaster. (426) Honoria was to spend the following afternoon with him. At dinner he couldn't decide whether she was most like him or her mother. Fortunate if she didn't combine the traits of both that had brought them to disaster. (4) At dinner he couldn't decide whether Honoria was most like him or her mother. Fortunate if she didn't combine the traits of both that had brought them to disaster. (The Short Stories 619)

The first sentence of this passage in the typescript is revised to the point, that, by the final revision, it doesn't exist at all, having had no connection to what follows it. The second and third sentences of the typescript are redundant, and they are appropropriately emended in the Post.

The reasons for Marion's attitude toward Charlie are more evident in the typescript:

Marion shook herself suddenly --- it was almost a shudder. Part of her saw that he was different now, that his feet were firmly planted, part of her her [sic] own material feelings recognized the naturalness of his desire, but she had lived for a long time with another (picture), a picture founded first on financial jealousy of her sister, and certain dissatisfactions [sic] with her own life, then in the real shock of one terrible night and in the breaking up of the Wales, swinging quickly toward him and fixing on him. It was the point in her life where, through no fault of hers, acted upon upon [sic] herself by the circumstances of ill health and her husband's failure to prosper, it had been necessary to fix her resentment upon tangible villainy and a tangible villain. (449-450)

Two major points made about Marion in the passage never made it to the Post: Marion was "financially jealous of her sister" and the impact of Lincoln's "failure to prosper" on her. Compare now to the Post version:

Marion shuddered suddenly; part of her saw that Charlie's feet were planted on the earth now, and her own maternal feeling recognized the naturalness of his desire; but she had lived for a long time with a prejudice--a prejudice founded on a curious disbelief in her sister's happiness, and which, in the shock of one terrible night, had turned to hatred for him. It had all happened at a point in her life where the discouragement of ill-health and adverse circumstances made it necessary for her to believe in tangible villainy and a tangible villain. (82)

Although the paragraph underwent substantial revision, the underlying causes of Marion's feelings toward Charlie remain.

Lincoln's failure to prosper is dropped from that passage. Another very telling passage involving Lincoln's character is also dropped. A passage appearing in the Post, but eliminated for the Taps revision, has Duncan asking for a drink during his and Lorraine's inopportune visit to the Peters' apartment. The typescript has Lincoln "glanc[ing] at Marion who shook her head," which prompted Lincoln to respond, "I'm sorry, there isn't a thing in the house. We just this minute emptied the only bottle" (462). Lincoln's actions show two things about him: first, he is overly subservient to Marion, and two, he would lie: the look at Marion indicates he could have offered a drink. These images of Lincoln had to be dropped because the Lincoln finally to appear in "Babylon Revisited" leaned toward allowing Honoria's return to Charlie, and his leanings affected Marion to the point where she temporarily relinquished matters to her husband: "Glancing at her husband, she found no help from him, and as abruptly as if it were a matter of no importance, she threw up the sponge. ... 'You two decide it' " (627).

The Post version had a reference to D. H. Lawrence that was deleted in the revision for Taps at Reveille, but what the reference was attached to in the story was not. Anticipating custody of Honoria, Charlie thinks of the future and then the present, with "work to do and someone to love. But not to love too much, for he knew the injury that a father can do to a daughter or a mother to a son by attaching them too closely: afterward, out in the world, the child would seek in the marriage partner the same blind tenderness and, failing probably to find it, turn against love and life" (628). Charlie seems to be thinking along these lines because of something in Honoria's behavior, behavior only found in the typescript:

"Daddy, I want to come and live with you," she said suddenly.

His heart leapt in him. Oh he had wanted this and he had wanted it to come like this."

"Arn't [sic] you perfectly happy?"

"Yes, but I love you better than anybody. And you love me better than anybody, don't you, now that Mummy's dead?"

"Of course I do," He managed to assume a jovial manner. "But we're different generations, honey. You'll grow up and meet somebody your own age and go marry him and forget you ever had a daddy."

"Yes, that's true," she agreed tranquilly.

He did not go in ...

"When you're safe inside just show yourself in that window," he said.

"All right. Goodbye Dads dads dads dads." She kissed him (passionately). (441)

Honoria seems to be acting rather unhealthily in this interchange; thankfully Fitzgerald revised the passage, removing images of Honoria that are not only inconsequential to the plot but also detract from Charlie's purpose in wanting Honoria back: "A great wave of protectiveness went over him. He thought he knew what to do for her" (619) and "Charlie was more and more absorbed by the desire of putting a little of himself into her before she crystallized utterly" (623). If Honoria appears to be wanting to return to Charlie for the wrong reasons, one wouldn't want her to return, regardless of Charlie's honorable intentions. Fitzgerald really couldn't help but improve passages like these.

A look at Fitzgerald's draft of "Babylon Revisited" provides a most interesting and informative view of the story in its infancy. Revisions from the typescript show how greatly Fitzgerald ameliorated characterization, and refinements of language are everywhere. The typescript's comparison with the final product makes manifest Fitzgerald's craft at writing; he took a lackluster draft and transformed "Babylon Revisited" into a shining example of the American short story.

Works Cited


Part Two - Continue on to the second part of this study of the texts of "Babylon Revisited."
Chapter 2 introduction - Return to the opening page of this chapter.


Chapter 2: A Study of the Texts of "Babylon Revisited": from the Post to Taps: Part One
http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tdlarson/fsf/babylon/chap_2a.htm

© 1995, 1998-2000
Tom Larson

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited":
A Long Expostulation and Explanation:

Contents and Introduction