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

Thomas A. Larson, M.A.

Contents and Introduction

Chapter 3
The Popular and Critical Reception of "Babylon Revisited":
An Annotated Bibliography

"Babylon Revisited" is considered by many to be the best of Fitzgerald's short stories. The earliest comment on the story dates from January 6, 1931, when Harold Ober, Fitzgerald's agent, upon receipt of the text, commented, "I like the story very much" (As Ever, Scott 175). In a 1940 letter to his daughter Scottie, Fitzgerald himself described the story as "magnificent" (Letters 64).

"Babylon Revisited" has sparked studies of various sorts over the years, which are noted below. An invaluable source for writings about Fitzgerald and his writings is Jackson R. Bryer's The Critical Reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Bibliographical Study and its 1984 supplement (see notes below). The bibliography presented here is a collation of notes from Bryer's bibliographies and of notes I have collected, which are, for the most part, studies made since 1981. Annotations are my own, except when I have not seen the work; in that case, Bryer's annotations from the The Critical Reputation volumes fill in as much as possible.

Bibliographies for other areas of study concerning "Babylon Revisited" are listed below:

Chapter 1 Annotated Bibliography - Click here for a bibliography concerning the biographical origins of "Babylon Revisited."
Chapter 2 Annotated Bibliography - Click here for a bibliography concerning the texts and textual studies of "Babylon Revisited."
Chapter 4 Annotated Bibliography - Click here for a bibliography concerning "Babylon Revisited" and Hollywood.

Fitzgerald's Evaluation of "Babylon Revisited"
Fitzgerald's own opinion of the story is recorded in a boastful note to his daughter Scottie in a letter dated January 25, 1940. He wrote, "You have earned some money for me this week because I sold 'Babylon Revisited,' in which you are a character, to the pictures (the sum received wasn't worthy of the magnificent story--neither of you nor of me--however, I am accepting it.)" This letter was published in the following volumes:

The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ed. Andrew Turnbull. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963. 63-64.

Scott Fitzgerald: Letters to His Daughter. Ed. Andrew Turnbull. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965. 103.

Fitzgerald, in a 1940 letter to friends Gerald and Sara Murphy, refers to "Babylon Revisited" as "an old and not bad Post story". The letter was published in the following volumes:

The Crack-Up. Ed. Edmund Wilson. New York: New Directions Paperbook, 1956. First published in 1945. 282-283.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: Charles Scribner's, 1994. 458-459.

The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ed. Andrew Turnbull. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963. 428-429.

Harold Ober's Comment
Harold Ober, Fitzgerald's agent, wrote a letter dated January 6, 1931, in which he stated, " 'Babylon Revisited' came back from the typist this morning just in time to give to Costain [of the The Saturday Evening Post]. I like the story very much." The story was published in the Post on February 21, 1931. This letter was published in:

As Ever, Scott Fitz--: Letters Between F. Scott Fitzgerald and His Literary Agent Harold Ober, 1919-1940. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1972. 175-176.

The bibliographies listed here all bear the mark of Jackson R. Bryer, whose work in the area of studies about Fitzgerald is unsurpassed.

Bryer, Jackson R. The Critical Reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Bibliographical Study. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1967.

Supplement One through 1981, 1984.

These volumes aim to be comprehensive in identifying works about Fitzgerald, complete with Bryer's helpful annotations.

Bryer, Jackson R. "F. Scott Fitzgerald." Sixteen Modern American Authors: A Survey of Research and Criticism. Ed. Jackson R. Bryer. Durham: Duke University Press, 1974. 277-321. This volume replaced the 1969 Fifteen Modern American Authors.

Volume 2: A Survey of Research and Criticism Since 1972, 1990. 301-359.

These volumes contain insightful bibliographical essays about Fitzgerald works and studies of his life and works.

Bryer, Jackson R. The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Approaches to Criticism. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.

This volume contains a bibliography centering on Fitzgerald's short stories. Notes concerning "Babylon Revisited" are listed on pages 350-351.

Taps at Reveille

"Babylon Revisited" was collected in Taps at Reveille, which was published in 1935. The following notes are reviews of that 1935 volume of Fitzgerald's short stories. (Reviews of other volumes in which "Babylon Revisited" appeared are ignored in this bibliography.)

The reviews noted immediately below were reprinted in F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Critical Reception (Ed. Jackson R. Bryer. N.p.: Burt Franklin & Co., 1978. 337-352), making them easily accessible to scholars. The reviews are listed chronologically, as they appear in Bryer's volume. Page citations found in the annotations refer to Bryer's volume.

Gray, James. "Scott Fitzgerald Brilliance Bared in Short Stories." St. Paul Dispatch 20 March 1935, sec. 1: 8.

" 'Babylon Revisited' echoes Tender Is the Night and I admire it less. Here is a young man who has lost the right to his child because of the spiritual, moral and physical decay into which he fell during the 'boom' party. ... Technically, the story is weakened by a feeble and inadequate climax. But the mood, that of regret for the waste and rioting of the last years of the jazz age, is appealing" (338).

Coleman, Arthur. "Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald Are Merely Entertaining." Dallas Morning News 24 March 1935, sec. 3: 8.

In this panning of Taps at Reveille, Coleman nonetheless states that "Babylon Revisited," "The Last of the Belles," "Two Wrongs," and "Crazy Sunday" "are Fitzgerald at his best, which is very, very good" (339).

H., P. "Three New Books from Fictioneers of Varied Merit." Providence Sunday Journal 24 March 1935, sec. 6: 4.

"Babylon Revisited" is not cited in this review, but about Taps at Reveille, P. H. states, "The variety of themes is remarkable . ... [Taps] comprises the best work that Mr. Fitzgerald has done in the last decade. You must not miss it" (340).

Chamberlain, John. "Books of the Times." New York Times 27 March 1935: 19.

" 'Babylon Revisited' is a Proustian confrontation of the past with the present, with a hero who pays for past idiocies" (341).

Hart, Elizabeth. "F. Scott Fitzgerald, Looking Backward." New York Herald Tribune Books 31 March 1935: 4.

"Babylon Revisited" "is a superb story, firm, sure, vibrant" (343). The past "is seen in the light of the present and seen astringently, it functions as the crazy, distorted roots of today's sober bloom" (343).

Walton, Edith H. "Scott Fitzgerald's Tales." New York Times Book Review 31 March 1935: 7.

" 'Babylon Revisited,' which seems oddly linked in spirit to Mr. Fitzgerald's latest novel, Tender Is the Night, is probably the most mature and substantial story in the book. A rueful, though incompleted, farewell to the jazz age, its setting is Paris and its tone one of anguish for past follies" (345).

"Mr. Fitzgerald Grows Up." Milwaukee Journal 31 March 1935, sec. 5: 3.

"Babylon Revisited" is not mentioned in this review, but the reviewer notices "Fitzgerald has as definitely left the jazz era behind as his flappers of pre-depression days are passe. His interests have changed and he seems more aware of social forces at work" (346).

H., N. "Short Stories." New York Sun 5 April 1935: 30.

"Babylon Revisited" is not mentioned, despite N. H.'s contention that "It is hard, in these days of the depression to be fair to Mr. Fitzgerald. The children of all ages--from 13 to 30--that decorate his pages seem as remote today as the neanderthal man" (346). N. H. makes no recognition of Charlie Wales's sense of regret about those days of the '20s, which would run counter to N. H.'s overall sense of Taps at Reveille. One wonders if the reviewer read all the way through to "Babylon Revisited," the last story in the volume.

Matthews, T. S. Review. New Republic 82 (10 April 1935): 262. Also reprinted in F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Man and His Work. Ed. Alfred Kazin. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1951. 108.

General panning of Taps at Reveille.

Troy, William. "The Perfect Life." The Nation 140 (17 April 1935): 454-456.

"Babylon Revisited, one of the best of them [the short stories in Taps], deals with the not quite successful attempt of a reformed survivor of the Paris pleasure front of the twenties to wrest control of his child from skeptical relatives" (348).

Nourse, Joan. "Better Short Stories by Fitzgerald." San Francisco Chronicle 5 May 1935, 4D.

Nourse states that, of the stories in Taps at Reveille, "the most Fitzgeraldian, the one that more or less comes between his novels, This Side of Paradise and Tender Is the Night, is the newer 'Babylon Revisited' " (350).

Perry, Anne. Review. Brooklyn Citizen 10 May 1935: 5.

" 'Babylon Revisited,' the last story in the book is in a way the most interesting. It shows one of the gilded Fitzgerald youngsters grown-up and grimly paying the piper in the scenes of his former folly, and, of course, being misunderstood and put upon during the process. This mood of rueful acceptance of cause and effect suggests a maturer trend for Mr. Fitzgerald's future work" (352).

Baker, Howard. Review. Southern Review 1 (July 1935): 190.

Baker briefly reviews Taps at Reveille with overly general opinions.

Other 1935 Reviews, listed alphabetically. Annotations for these come from Bryer's The Critical Reputation, 1967.

Anderson, Katherine McClure. Review. Macon Telegraph 27 March 1935: 4.

"Stories 'run the gamut of the past twenty years in America.' Most of the review is a description of volume's contents" (Bryer 91).

B., G. "Short Stories by Scott Fitzgerald." Montgomery Advertiser 24 March 1935: 16.

"T[aps] A[t] R[eveille] 'will number among its admirers not only confirmed Fitzgerald fans, but all those who appreciate good stories as well' " (Bryer 91).

Beck, Clyde. Review. Detroit News 28 April 1935, Women's sec.: 17.

" 'Babylon Revisited' and 'Basil Lee' show F[itzgerald] 'in the company of old and honored literary men' " (Bryer 91).

Booklist 31 (June 1935): 345.

"Very brief description of book's contents" (Bryer 90).

"Fitzgerald's Figments." Time 25 (15 April 1935): 80.

"Brief generally descriptive review: F[itzgerald] 'implies that the world his latest stories tell about is cockeyed, arsy-versy' " (Bryer 90).

M, P. D. "Fitzgerald's Tales Are Ably Told." Richmond [Va.] Times-Dispatch 26 May 1935, sec. V: 11.

" 'There are so few noteworthy collections of short stories offered that certainly Taps at Reveille should be owned by every reader who cares for Fitzgerald and the American short story' " (Bryer 93).

New Yorker 11 (30 March 1935): 89.

"Very brief squib: 'Volume includes one almost first-rate tale, "Babylon Revisited." ' " (Bryer 91).

Seldes, Gilbert. "True to Type." New York Evening Journal 11 April 1935: 21.

" 'Babylon Revisited' is 'the saddest and truest [story] Fitzgerald has written' " (Bryer 93).

"Taps at Reveille." Atlanta Journal 14 April 1935, Magazine sec.: 12.

"T[aps] A[t] R[eveille] 'is a collection of extraordinarily fine and entertaining stories by a writer who has few if any contemporary superiors in his own field' " (Bryer 91).

"Taps at Reveille." Sunday Union and Republican [Springfield, Mass.] 12 May 1935: 7E.

"Brief notice which is mainly descriptive. 'Babylon Revisited' is called 'a disproportionately impressive sketch' " (Bryer 91).

Train, Lilla. "Taps at Reveille: Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald." Savannah Morning News 14 April 1935, sec. 3:2.

"F[itzgerald] has 'the ability to "see a story" in an incident or character ... [and] a truly remarkable faculty for making his readers see it.' 'Family in the Wind' and 'Babylon Revisited' 'stand out from the others as the most important' " (Bryer 93-94).

Tyler, A. Ranger. "Youth Scanned by Fitzgerald." Knickerbocker Press 21 April 1935, sec. 4: 7.

Nothing pertinent noted by Bryer.

Critical Studies of "Babylon Revisited"

Articles and Essays on "Babylon Revisited"
Baker, Carlos. "When the Story Ends: 'Babylon Revisited.' " The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Approaches in Criticism. Ed. Jackson R. Bryer. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. 269-277.

Baker presents a well-rounded survey of "Babylon Revisited": the craft involved in the story itself, its motifs, imagery, and symbolism; and its biographical aspects: "1930 stood in Fitzgerald's mind as the watershed or turning point of his career" (276) and a recounting of Fitzgerald's work in Hollywood on a screenplay based on the story.

Consuela, Sister Mary, R.D.C. "Babylon and All-American Boys: A Study of the Dream in Slow Motion." Notre Dame English Journal 1 (No. 2, 1962): 12-13, 19.

Sister Consuela makes connections between "Babylon Revisited" and the cinema in this study. "Charlie Wales re-enters the cinema-like dream world where the bill for his dream is still in arrears; not until he has paid the last centime can he reclaim his lost honor, Honoria" (12). "The effect of running a film sequence in slow motion is to make the actors in a crowd stand out clearly defined, grotesquely individual. But in the moral slow motion of the artificial Babylon, individuality is lost in the madness of following the crowd" (13). "In the Babylon of slow motion, any unwanted scenes can be blotted out simply by closing one's eyes ... or perhaps by merely darkening the lens with ... a thousand-franc note. ... Charlie Wales discovered this technique" (13). But, in the end, Charlie has shaken loose of that Babylon and "has found himself, and in doing so, has won the confidence which Marion denied him" (19).

Cowart, David. "Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited' " Lost Generation Journal 8 (Spring 1987): 16-19.

In this insightful study, Cowart's astute observations touch upon many areas: "the ambivalent consequences of having money" (16); Charlie Wales as exile, noting that "Fitzgerald sends him [Charlie] down the Rue Bonaparte, named for history's most famous imperial exile" (16); Fitzgerald's contrasting use of hot and cold imagery in the story (17); the way time "lends itself to dissipation" (17); and the tragic element in "Babylon Revisited": Charlie's "tragic stature is manifest when, defeated by forces vastly larger than himself, he keeps in tact his sobriety and his new-found integrity" (18).

Edenbaum, Robert I. " 'Babylon Revisited': A Psychological Note on F. Scott Fitzgerald." Literature and Pschology 18 (No. 1, 1968): 27-29.

Edenbaum believes that Fitzgerald himself forgot, in the composition of "Babylon Revisited," that Charlie Wales left the Peters' address at the Ritz bar in the opening scene, and Edenbaum concludes, "The detail in the story that might have indicated Charlie Wales' unconscious self-destructive impulse indicates instead F. Scott Fitzgerald's through the medium of Charlie Wales" (29).

Gervais, Ronald J. "The Snow of Twenty-Nine: 'Babylon Revisited' as ubi sunt Lament.' College Literature 7 (Winter 1980): 47-52.

Gervais sees Fitzgerald employing the ubi sunt device in "Babylon Revisited," a device in which "the writer evokes for a moment the splendor of life, symbolized by famous persons of the past, and then, by his inevitably grim answer, condemns it to death" (47). Gervais notices connections between "Babylon Revisited" and a famous ubi sunt lament, Francois Villon's 'Ballade of Dead Ladies' " (48). Gervais concludes that "in using the ubi sunt device, Fitzgerald aligns himself with a long tradition that expresses his own themes of loss and regret, and the worth of old values" (51).

Gross, Seymour. "Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited.' " College English 25 (November 1963): 128-135.

Gross's article is a probing, descriptive study of "Babylon Revisited." Gross notes, "In the world of 'Babylon Revisited' winter dreams do not drift sweetly into sad memories, but erupt into nightmares of irrevocable loss, leaving only the waste and twisted shapes that lie on the decimated plains of the Babylonian Captivity" (129). As regards Charlie's character, Gross states, "There is in us a desire to find the present Charlie somehow deserving of his wretched fate ... for it is easier to live with a belief in reasonable justice. But Fitzgerald does not allow us this luxury. Throughout the story he stresses the splendid achievement of Charlie's reform. His sensitivity, poised intelligence, and quiet power over himself should be enough to get his daughter back. That moral renovation may not be enough is the injustice that lies at the center of the story" (130). As for Marion, "her hard stance is not morally unequivocal" (133).

Hagopian, John V. "A Prince in Babylon." Fitzgerald Newsletter No. 19 (Fall 1962): 1-3. Rpt. in Fitzgerald Newsletter. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. Washington, D.C.: NCR/Microcard Editions, 1969. 99-101.

Hagopian observes that " 'Babylon Revisited' is a religious story--more exactly a Catholic, Dantesque story. ... it renders with understanding and compassion the purgatorial suffering of a man for whom repentance and social readjustment alone are not enough to redeem his past. Nevertheless, as the symbolism and dramatic action both suggest, eventual redemption is probable" (99).

Harrison, James R. "Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited.' " Explicator 16 (January 1958): Item 20.

Harrison believes that Charlie Wales's predicament in which he is finally denied Honoria "is clearly the result of present weakness," and "There are two Charlies in the story: Charlie the substantial man of business, the devoted father who wishes to reclaim his child; and Charlie the hedonist, who sees the waste, cruelty and senselessness of his former spree but who still feels somehow that it was gloriously wasteful, gloriously cruel and glorious senselessness--and in spite of the suffering it caused, glorious fun." Harrison states that "Charlie was defeated, not by accident [referring to Charlie's leaving the Peters's address at the Ritz bar], but by an impulsive act of the other side of his nature."

Iida, Tomo. " 'Babylon Revisited' and F. Scott Fitzgerald." Kinran Tanki Daigaku Kenkyu Shi 6 (April 1975): 29-37.

"In English. Primarily a biographical reading of the story focusing on the drinking of F[itzgerald] and Charlie Wales" (Bryer Supplement One 213)

Johnson, Ira. "Roundheads and Royalty in 'Babylon.' " English Record 14 (October 1963): 32-35.

Johnson notes Fitzgerald's selection of names for the characters in "Babylon Revisited," equating Wales with Edward, the contemporary Prince of Wales; Charlie with Bonnie Prince Charlie; Peters with Hugh Peters, a British Puritan Divine who fled England for America, where he was pastor at Salem; Marion with Francis Marion, the American "Swamp Fox"; Lincoln with Abraham Lincoln, with Marion also echoing Mary, Abraham Lincoln's wife; Helen with Helen of Troy; Honoria with Pope Honorius I; Duncan with the Duncan in Macbeth; and Quarrles with "quarrels." Some of Johnson's observations are relevant, such as equating Charlie with the Prince of Wales, but others are questionable, such as associating Honoria with Pope Honorius I, when Fitzgerald clearly chose the name of his friends' daughter, Honoria Murphy, for its obvious symbolism of "honor" in "Babylon Revisited."

Male, Roy R. " 'Babylon Revisited': A Story of the Exile's Return." Studies in Short Fiction 2 (Spring 1965): 270-277.

Male's title of the article indicates its subject matter: Charlie Wales as an exile returning home. Charlie, the "prodigal has returned, but his effort to 'conciliate something,' to redress the balance, had failed, and he remains an exile" (276), because, Male states, "For the trouble with Charlie is that he still wants both worlds. The harsh fact is that if he had not stopped in the Ritz Bar in the first place, had not tried to get in touch with Duncan Scaeffer, he would have won back his daughter" (276).

Nettels, Elsa. "Howells's `A Circle in the Water' and Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited.' " Studies in Short Fiction 19 (Summer 1982): 261-67.

Nettels presents an involved study noting correlations between "Babylon Revisited" and William Dean Howell's story "A Circle in the Water," beginning with similarities in plot; both stories "center on a middle-aged man whose wife is dead and who through folly or crime has lost custody of his only child, a daughter" (262).

Osborne, William R. "The Wounds of Charlie Wales in Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited.' " Studies in Short Fiction 2 (Fall 1964): 86-87.

Osborne makes a study of Charlie Wales's name, thematically connecting "Wales" with the verb wale, meaning "to mark (the flesh) with wales or weals" (86): "Throughout the story Charlie wales and is waled as he attempts to regain custody of his daughter" (86). These observations lead to Osborne's thinking of the story as "resembling generally ... a morality play, with Charlie as a short of suffering wounded Everyman of the post-Jazz Age, trying to choose middle-class Respectability and gain Honor (Honoria) but being waled by the evil angels of his 'Babylonian' past" (87).

Schrader, Richard J. "F and Charles G. Norris." Fitzgerald Newsletter No. 26 (Summer 1964): 3-4. Rpt. in Fitzgerald Newsletter. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. Washington, D.C.: NCR/Microcard Editions, 1969. 156-157.

Schrader notes plot parallels between "Babylon Revisited" and Norris's Brass: A Novel of Marriage (1921), in which "the pitifully dissipated Philip Baldwin must continually humble himself before his impassive wife, Leila, for the sake of preserving a rapport with his daughter" (157).

Schramm, Wilbur. "Babylon Revisited." 50 Best American Short Stories: 1915-1939. Ed. Edward J. O'Brien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939. 899-900.

In this study guide essay, Schramm emphasizes the importance of the title, which "indicates the presence of a situation which is almost another actor in the story" (899). Charlie Wales does not succeed because "Babylon rises up again ... and ultimately defeats him" (899).

Slattery, Sister Margaret Patrice. "The Function of Time in GG and 'Babylon.' " Fitzgerald Newsletter No. 39 (Fall 1967): 1-4. Rpt. in Fitzgerald Newsletter. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. Washington, D.C.: NCR/Microcard Editions, 1969. 279-282.

"A circular time pattern controls the structural design of both G[reat] G[atsby] and 'Babylon Revisited,' and F[itzgerald] uses this pattern to underline the characters' escape from past and present reality, as well as their failure to attain a vision of the future" (279). Concluding, Sister states, "While Gatsby is faithful to his green light and its signaling to the future, even after the light has gone out, Charlie returns to his one glass of whisky, a last hold on the past he cannot abandon and for which he sacrifices his 'plans, vistas, futures for Honoria and himself' " (281-282).

Staley, Thomas F. "Time and Structure in Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited.' " Modern Fiction Studies 10 (Winter 1964-1965): 386-388.

Staley's analytical essay on the importance of time in "Babylon Revisited" "suggests that the past and the future meet in the present" (386), and Staley concludes by stating, "Time and its ravages have left Charlie suspended in time with a nightmare for a past, an empty whiskey glass for a present, and a future full of loneliness" (388).

Toor, David. "Guilt and Retribution in 'Babylon Revisited.' " Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual 5 (1973): 155-164.

Toor presents a questionable study based on his view that the meaning of "Babylon Revisited" emerges from "a kind of personal psychological morality" (156), in which Toor finds that "Charlie Wales is not torn between the poles of two opposing worlds so much as he is torn by his own inner sense of guilt and his inability to expiate it" (156). Toor finds Fitzgerald's craftmanship lacking as far as point of view is concerned (156-157), and he fantastically states, "The ghastly scene at the Peters ends with Charlie getting what he was begging for subconsciously all along--Marion's rejection of his plea for Honoria" (162).

Turner, Joan. "Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited.' " Explicator 48 (Summer 1990): 282-83.

Turner examines the references to time Fitzgerald uses in "Babylon Revisited," concluding these references "convey his theme that people are unable to escape the past, in the story of a man trying to overcome his past mistakes, only to be constantly confronted with them" (283).

Twitchell, James B. " 'Babylon Revisited': Chronology and Characters." Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual 10 (1978): 155-60.

Twitchell's study is in response to earlier essays, notably those of Harrison, Male, Edenbaum, and Toor. Twitchell states that "a careful reexamination of both chronology and character may return us to the more sensible, although less psychologically sophisticated, reading of critics like Seymour Gross, who contends that Charlie has indeed reformed, but that in this scurvy world 'moral reformation may not be enough' " (155-156). Twitchell then carefully notes Charlie Wales's actions throughout the story in order to reaffirm Charlie's recovery, and concludes by stating that Charlie "will return in six months, or twelve months, or eighteen months, until finally Fortune allows him what is rightfully his" (159).

Studies of Fitzgerald's Short Stories and "Babylon Revisited"
Allen, Walter. The Short Story in English. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. 131, 141-146, 173, 201, 394.

"Suggests that F[itzgerald]'s stories show that he 'was never taken in by the glitter; he was always aware of the presence of the Furies, even though others were not.' Includes discussion of 'Babylon Revisited' and 'May Day' " (Bryer Supplement One 287).

Brondell, William J. "Structural Metaphors in Fitzgerald's Short Fiction." Kansas Quarterly 14 (Spring 1982): 94-112. "Babylon Revisited": 107-111.

Brondell agrees with Gross's interpretation of "Babylon Revisited," and that Gross's study "remains the most judicious and detailed appraisal of the relationships between the structure and the theme" (108) and Brondell's current study is "but a fine-tuning of his argument and a moderation of his gloomy interpretation" (106). Brondell's study, then, is an "analysis of the deep structure of Charlie's internal life and the special metaphor that informs the deep structure suggest that `Babylon Revisited' is indeed a story on two levels: the exterior level which describes Charlie's unsuccessful attempt to reclaim his daughter Honoria; and an interior level which describes Charlie's successful attempt to prove his reformation and thus reclaim his lost honor" (108), and Charlie's "experiences during the last few days in Paris suggest to him that it is only a matter of time, perhaps Lincoln's `six months,' before the swing of the past will have lost its momentum" (11).

Bryer, Jackson R., ed. The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Approaches in Criticism. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.

Bryer put together this collection of essays and an extensive bibliography of Fitzgerald's short stories to promote the burgeoning study in this area. Baker's and Prigozy's articles, noted elsewhere, appear in this volume.

Butterfield, Herbie. " 'All Very Rich and Sad': A Decade of Fitzgerald Short Stories." Scott Fitzgerald: The Promises of Life. Ed. A. Robert Lee. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. 94-112. "Babylon Revisited": 108-109.

Butterfield thinks "Babylon Revisited" is Fitzgerald's "best story" (108), calling it "Fitzgerald's definitive review both of his and Zelda's expatriate years and of the American 1920s and their collapse" (108). Butterfield calls the conclusion of "Babylon Revisited" "a sad ending, of course, but a far less depressing ending than those to all the other stories we have read about the lives of the American rich, for it ends with an understanding of and a commitment to, not romance, but love" (109).

Higgins, John. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of the Stories. Jamaica, N.Y.: St. John's University Press, 1971. "Babylon Revisited": 121-124.

Higgins states that " 'Babylon Revisited' stands as Fitzgerald's one virtually flawless contribution to the canon of the short story" (121). Higgins notes how the "motifs of the past, of money, and of failure, guilt and atonement are all interwoven" (122) and the "disillusion and failure that Charlie has already experienced before the story opens reflect the disillusion of the entire country struck by the Depression. There are constant reminders of the crash and its aftermath, particularly at the beginning and the end" (122). In "Babylon Revisited" "aesthetic distance and point of view are tightly controlled. ... The pervasively melancholy atmosphere of Paris forebodes Charlie's disaster" (123).

Kuehl, John. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991. Taps at Reveille: 74-101; "Babylon Revisited": 80-86.

Kuehl touches on many issues in his study of "Babylon Revisited," including the following: Fitzgerald's chosen point of view in the story; Catholic connections; the geographical journey Charlie makes; the identification Fitzgerald made between his own life and historical phenomena; and the story's theme of the effects of dissipation.

Mangum, Bryant. A Fortune Yet: Money in the Art of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Short Stories. New York: Garland Publishing, 1991. "Babylon Revisited": 96-98.

Mangum states, " 'Babylon Revisited' is unique in the Fitzgerald canon. In it Fitzgerald not only manages to create a mood that will inform Tender Is the Night, but also he composes one of his most brilliant stories, which was a first-rate popular magazine piece as well. Few would argue about the story's artistic merit" (96). Mangum notes that "Babylon Revisited" earned $4,000, the "highest price that Fitzgerald received for any magazine piece" (197). Mangum also attempts to view the story through the readers of The Saturday Evening Post, concluding that "most readers would feel that Charlie has a second chance coming and that he will not remain 'so alone' for much longer" (98).

Petry, Alice Hall. Fitzgerald's Craft of Short Fiction: The Collected Stories 1920-1935. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989. Taps at Reveille: 143-190; "Babylon Revisited": 155, 178-179, 181, 186-187

Petry thematically analyzes the four volumes of short stories collected during Fitzgerald's lifetime in four individual studies. The themes Petry finds in Taps at Reveille which are reflected in "Babylon Revisited" are as follows: 1. Money as an "unworthy dream" (155); 2. The home as a one-parent household (178-179); 3. The home as "vital for the quality of life" (181); and 4. Atonement (186-187).

Potts, Stephen W. "Hitched to the Post." The Price of Paradise: The Magazine Career of F. Scott Fitzgerald. San Bernardino, Calif.: The Borgo Press, 1993. 55-75. "Babylon Revisited": 69-71.

In a study concentrating on the short stories as magazine pieces, Potts states that "Babylon Revisited" "succeeds in large part through technique. The writing is focused and restrained, and ... he [Fitzgerald] concentrates on a few dramatic scenes within a restricted time frame, filling in the background as the plot unfolds" (69). Potts also notes that "Wales accepts responsibility instead of running away from it, and he faces adversity with strength and determination more than self-pity" (70). Potts points out that "one should not, as some critics do, assume it is a misfit within the Post format. It shares a surprising number of motifs with the work of other Post writers" (70); and, for the Post readership, the story "implied that the lesson had been learned, that Americans were willing, indeed anxious, to inter the mistakes of the past, get on their feet, and proceed with the business of living" (71).

Prigozy, Ruth. "Fitzgerald's Short Stories and the Depression: An Artistic Crisis." The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Approaches in Criticism. Ed. Jackson R. Bryer. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. 111-126. "Babylon Revisited": 113, 116, 122, 123.

One of Prigozy passing mentions of "Babylon Revisited" cite it as an example for Fitzgerald stories of this period; the stories "deal with struggle, with responsibility for others, with professionalism, and above all with that elusive trait character" (116).

Voss, Arthur. The American Short Story: A Critical Survey. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975. F. Scott Fitzgerald: 208-214.

Voss's brief summary of "Babylon Revisited" concludes by stating the story "is a beautiful executed story without a single false note, and its artistry and depth of feeling make it one of the great modern short stories" (212).

Way, Brian. "Fitzgerald's Short Stories: The Shape of a Career." F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Art of Social Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980. 72-97. "Babylon Revisited": 90-92.

Way's look at "Babylon Revisited" puts it in the context of the era. Of Charlie Wales's wanderings through Paris in the story, Way writes that "Fitzgerald conveys the first shock of the Depression more effectively than any other American writer" (91), and, finally, "Charlie's personal experience is a distillation of the social history of the age" (92).

West, Ray B., Jr. The Short Story in America. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1952. 64-68. "Babylon Revisited": 67-68.

Concluding a plot summary of "Babylon Revisited," West calls Charlie Wales's failure "both a punishment and an expiation" (68).

Critical Books and Other Works about Fitzgerald's Writings and "Babylon Revisited"
Allen, Joan M. Candles and Carnival Lights: The Catholic Sensibility of F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: New York University Press, 1978. "Babylon Revisited": 119-121.

Allen calls the Paris portrayed in "Babylon Revisited" as the "correlative of the City of Man" (119), and the Paris to which Charlie returns "is his purgatory" (120). "Redemption is now possible for him, for Wales is ready to face the consequences of his folly and to salvage what he can of the past by re-creating a new life with his daughter" (120). Allen too easily ignores the reasons for Charlie's failure to do just that, and simply notes "he will try again another time" (121).

Eble, Kenneth. F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1963. Rev. ed. Boston, 1977.

"The inner conflicts and the outward circumstances of Fitzgerald's personal decline in the 1920's are matched with the decline of the Jazz Age itself in 'Babylon Revisited'; in fact, it may become a period piece, so closely is it tied to that time" (130). "It is notable too for its creation of the great love and longing which exists between Wales and his daughter" (130).

Fahey, William A. F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Dream. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1973. "Babylon Revisited": 151-153.

"Told with great economy, it ['Babylon Revisited'] is a story of waste--waste of time, money, life, love, everything" (151). Fahey also recognizes Marion's role in Charlie's failure to regain Honoria: "He has been defeated this time by the hatred of Marion Peters, whose terrible bitterness is another indirect consequence of the wasted years of Charlie's life. Charlie has tried to recoup those years, to make something out of his life. He is not able to because Marion's arrogant virtue stands in his way. ... And arrogant virtue has power, like self-indulgent vice, `to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out of something' " (152-153).

Gallo, Rose Adrienne. F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1978. "Babylon Revisited": 101-105.

Gallo's observations include the following: "Charlie's purgation is far from over" (103); "The demons of Charlie's past are reluctant to release their hold upon him" (103); "Money, conceived as a corrosive power, is one of the principal themes" (103); and 'Babylon Revisited' is Fitzgerald's masterpiece of short fiction" (105).

Gilmore, Thomas B. "The Winding Road to Pat Hobby: Fitzgerald Confronts Alcoholism." In his Equivocal Spirits: Alcoholism in Twentieth Century Literature. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. 96-118. "Babylon Revisited": 108-109.

Gilmore's study looks at how alcohol and alcoholism is portrayed in Fitzgerald's literature, rather than centering on Fitzgerald's own alcoholism, as most studies are wont to do. As for "Babylon Revisited," Gilmore questions "whether Fitzgerald is too easy on him [Charlie Wales] when he recalls his wife's death in such a way that `wild anger' at his wife's flirting rather than his own drunkenness seems to have been Charlie's reason for locking her out one night" (108). Gilmore also believes that Charlie's recovery is incomplete, evidenced by his "continuing to have one drink a day for a reason that sounds suspiciously like alcoholic self-deception or rationalization" (108). To his discredit, Gilmore goes beyond the scope of the story when he wonders how a different writer would have portrayed Marion, which he uses, in part, to ignore her own questionable role in negating Charlie's hope for a home and Honoria, claiming Charlie "is still trying to displace some of the blame onto other persons or causes, such as Marion" (109).

Kennedy, J. Gerald. "Modernism as Exile: Fitzgerald, Barnes and the Unreal City." In his Imagining Paris: Exile, Writing, and American Identity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. 185-242. "Babylon Revisited": 196-197.

Kennedy centers primarily on Tender Is the Night in this study, but he notes the relationship between Fitzgerald's novel and "Babylon Revisited." In "Babylon Revisited" Fitzgerald "offers closer analysis of this rootless existence [that of the expatriate leisure class in Europe], exposing both its inherent unreality and its potentially tragic toll" (196). As a sketch for Tender Is the Night, 'Babylon Revisited' anticipates the fate of Dick Diver, who (like Charlie) loses his wife and family" (196) and by "representing the city as a 'Babylon,' a scene of riotous living and emotional betrayal, Fitzgerald anticipates key elements of the Paris section in Tender Is the Night" (197).

Lehan, Richard D. F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Craft of Fiction. Carbondale and Evansville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967.

Lehan's limited comments on "Babylon Revisited" include that "Tender Is the Night and 'Babylon Revisited' clearly indicate that Fitzgerald believed in a one-on-one relationship between personal and historical tragedy and a causal connection between the irresponsibility that characterized the 1920's and the suffering of the 1930's" (134).

Miller, James E. F. Scott Fitzgerald: His Art and His Technique. New York: New York University Press, 1964. Revised and retitled version of The Fictional Technique of Scott Fitzgerald. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1957.

Miller's passing comments on "Babylon Revisited" states that, of the stories collected in Taps at Reveille, both "Crazy Sunday" and "Babylon Revisited" "show high merit and deserve mention" (130).

Morgan, Wanda. "Fitzgerald's Babylon." Increase in Learning: Essays in Honor of James G. Van Buren. Eds. Robert J. Owens, Jr., and Barbara E. Hamm. Manhattan, Kan.: Manhattan Christian College, c. 1979. 37-42.

"More a general essay on F[itzgerald]'s life and technique than a study of 'Babylon Revisited,' although the themes and style of the story are discussed" (Bryer Supplement One 401).

Piper, Henry Dan. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Critical Portrait. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965. "Babylon Revisited": 165-166.

Piper connects the events in "Babylon Revisited" to Fitzgerald's biographical origins for the story. After summarizing the story's plot, Piper concludes by stating that Charlie "faces a further period of penance, his guilty past still not fully absolved" (166).

Perosa, Sergio. The Art of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Trans. Charles Matz and the author. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1965. "Babylon Revisited": 96-98.

In a perceptive analysis, Perosa states, "In 'Babylon Revisited' the tragedy of the Golden Twenties reaches its highest artistic realization" (96). Perosa, unlike many critics, notes how "Marion is also driven [in addition to her belief that Charlie has not mended his ways] by a kind of personal resentment for his past happiness and wealth ... and from this point of view her refusal is both selfish and cruel" (97). As for Charlie, Perosa notes how "he has acquired a new form of integrity and the sense of human values. His catharsis has been made possible, and the collapse of the Golden Twenties has not destroyed everything. On the ashes of that world at least one is left who in his struggle for a noble aim finds it possible to reassert his own personality and to discover the sense of his human condition" (97).

Savage, D. S. "The Significance of F. Scott Fitzgerald." F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Arthur Mizener. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963. 146-156. Reprinted from the Arizona Quarterly 8 (Autumn 1952).

Passing mention connects "Babylon" as an "elided form of 'Baby-land' " (155), and Savage notes the "marked infantile quality in the escapades of which the reformed reveler [Charlie Wales] is reminded by his former fellows" (155).

Shain, Charles E. "F. Scott Fitzgerald." Seven Modern American Novelists: An Introduction. Ed. William Van O'Connor. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1966. 81-117. The essay is reprinted from a University of Minnesota Pamphlet on American Writers.

In passing Shain mentions "Babylon Revisited," "a compassionate but morally strict portrait of a reformed American drunk who has to confront his complicity in his wife's death during a quarrel in Paris some years before" (111), and "Charlie Wales cannot escape the furies from his past. He can only learn to face them with personal dignity" (111).

Sklar, Robert. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoön. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. "Babylon Revisited": 243-245.

Sklar views "The Bridal Party," "One Trip Abroad," and "Babylon Revisited" as "a three-act domestic tragedy" with "Babylon Revisited" providing the "moral and dramatic resolution" (243). Sklar also notes how "Charlie is capable of comprehending his own past; but understanding only allows him to know why he is unable to control his present and his future. Knowledge and helplessness, together mingled, give the last line its great pathos: `He was absolutely sure Helen wouldn't have wanted him to be so alone.' `Babylon Revisited' is a beautiful story, that by simplicity and clarity of tone achieves in its form what The Great Gatsby attained in the form of the novel--perpetual freshness, a richness enough to satisfy all" (244-245).

Weir, Charles, Jr. " 'An Invite with Gilded Edges': A Study of F. Scott Fitzgerald." F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Man and His Work. Ed. Alfred Kazin. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1951. 133-145.

Passing mention in which Weir shows appreciation for Fitzgerald's ability to evaluate "whole fields of experience in a casual phrase, as when the expatriate American of 'Babylon Revisited' remembers Paris in the twenties: 'the snow of twenty-nine wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid some money' " (138).

Whitley, John S. " 'A Touch of Disaster': Fitzgerald, Spangler, and the Decline of the West." Scott Fitzgerald: The Promises of Life. Ed. A. Robert Lee. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989.

Whitley's brief commentary on "Babylon Revisited" states that this story "comes closest to describing" the relationship between Fitzgerald and his daughter Scottie (162), and that "the reader is left with the clear impression that bad parents may very well lose, and deserve to lose, their children" (162).

Selected Odds and Ends
The following notes are from various works that mention "Babylon Revisited," works that generally cite the story as an example for purposes of demonstration or argument.

Aldridge, John W. "Afterthoughts on the 20's." Commentary 56 (November 1973): 37-41.

The title of Aldridge's article indicates his purpose. "Babylon Revisited" is presented as "another expression of the desire to reconstitute certain values of moral discipline and self-control after the violent dissipations of the decade that ended in bankruptcy in 1929" (40).

Earnest, Ernst. Expatriates and Patriots--American Artists, Scholars, and Writers in Europe. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1968.

Brief mentions of "Babylon Revisited" have Earnest agreeing with Arthur Mizener's description of "the nightmare quality of Paris nights" (265), which Earnest notes "is reflected in Tender Is the Night and 'Babylon Revisited' " (265). "The point is that for many Americans in the 1920's Europe, and especially France, was just another playground. Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises represents the irresponsibility, the desperate escapism . ... Fitzgerald's 'Babylon Revisited' is the morning after" (266).

Fitch, Noel Riley. Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1983.

Passing mention of "Babylon Revisited" by Fitch speaks of "the spiritual malaise that undermined the lives of some Americans during the twenties; his short story `Babylon Revisited' portrays the aftermath" (339).

Friedman, Norman. "Pluralism Exemplified: Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby." In his Form and Meaning in Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1975.

"Reprinting, slightly revised, of Friedman's 1954 Accent essay. Other references include discussions of ... 'Babylon Revisited' " (Bryer Supplement One 356).

Graham, Sheilah. Hollywood Revisited: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.

In this gossipy history of Hollywood, Sheilah Graham, Fitzgerald's consort in his last years, mentions Fitzgerald here and there throughout the book. Briefly touching on the film version of "Babylon Revisited," Graham notes how "Scott thought ['Babylon Revisited'] was one of his best short stories" (31).

Hoffman, Frederick J. The Twenties: American Writing in the Postwar Decade. Rev. ed. New York: The Free Press, 1962.

Hoffman introduces a chapter entitled "Some Perspectives on the 1920s" with a study of "Babylon Revisited" that clearly places the story as representative of the era (416).

Kennedy, James G. ed. Stories East and West. Glenview, Ill.: Scott Foresman, 1971. "Babylon Revisited" treated 255-257.

Marder, Daniel. "Exiles at Home in American Literature." Mosaic 8 (Spring 1975): 49-75.

"Passing mention of F[itzgerald] and `Babylon Revisited' " (Bryer Supplement One 215).

Maugham, W. Somerset, ed. Great Modern Reading: W. Somerset Maugham's Introduction to Modern English and American Literature. Garden City, N.Y.: Nelson Doubleday, Inc., 1943.

Maugham calls "Babylon Revisited" "carelessly written and not quite convincing, but it offers a vivid picture of the time when young Americans, tempted by the favorable exchange and looking for something they thought they could not find at home, flocked to Paris and the Riviera" (157). And though Maugham condescendingly points out an error Fitzgerald made in using a simple French phrase (157), Maugham's text of "Babylon Revisited" in this volume corrupts the title of Debussy's piano composition as "La Pluie que Lent" (160).

Méral, Jean. Paris in American Literature. Trans. Laurette Long. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1989.

"Babylon Revisited" is cited throughout this book that mostly looks at Paris as a physical setting in works of American literature.

Mizener, Arthur. Introduction. Modern Short Stories: The Use of Imagination. Rev. ed. Ed. Arthur Mizener. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1967. 1-4.

Mizener's brief comments center on point of view in "Babylon Revisited," noting that the "third person who is speaking in the story becomes almost identical with Charlie at the crucial points of the story" (4), which represents "the kind of effect that is the peculiar triumph of the contemporary romantic story, the effect that results from representing events in an overwhelmingly lifelike way and at the same time convincing us that what ultimately counts is not these events themselves but what men [and women] feel in their hearts about them" (4).

Rice, Howard C. "Americans in Paris: Catalogue of an Exhibition, Princeton University Library, May 4-June 30, 1956." Princeton University Library Chronicle 17 (Summer 1956): 191-259.

This article simply lists the items of the exhibition indicated in the title. Two items were exhibited in reference to "Babylon Revisited," the typescript of the story and the 1935 volume Taps at Reveille (248-249).

Rose, Phyllis. Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in Her Time. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Very brief mention of "Babylon Revisited" involving "the heady sensation Americans had in Paris in the twenties. Fitzgerald evoked it in `Babylon Revisited': the snow of the twenties wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid" (106).

Schorer, Mark. "Some Relationships: Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway." In his The World We Imagine. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1968. 299-382.

" 'Babylon Revisited' ('one of Fitzgerald's most moving stories')" (Bryer Supplement One 409).

Chapter 3: The Popular and Critical Reception of "Babylon Revisited": An Annotated Bibliography

© 1995, 1998-2000
Tom Larson

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

Contents and Introduction