The Crack-Up

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The Crack-Up
FScottFitzgerald TheCrackUp.jpg
First edition cover
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald
Country United States
Language English
Genre Essays, letters and notes.
Publisher New Directions
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 347 pp

The Crack-Up (1945) is a collection of essays by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. It consists of previously unpublished letters, notes and also three essays originally written for and published first in the Esquire magazine during 1936. It was compiled and edited by Edmund Wilson shortly after Fitzgerald's death in 1940.

The main essay starts "Of course all life is a process of breaking down ...."[1] which gives something of the tone of the piece.


  • "The Crack-Up" (originally Esquire magazine, February 1936)
  • "Pasting It Together" (originally Esquire magazine, March 1936)
  • "Handle with Care" (originally Esquire magazine, April 1936)
collected together under the title "The Crackup" in the book

It also included positive evaluations of his work by Glenway Wescott, John Dos Passos, John Peale Bishop, et al.

Famous quotes[edit]

At the beginning of "The Crack-Up" Fitzgerald makes this widely quoted general observation:

"the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

As an example of this 'truth,' he cites the ability to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. However, in modern decision theory, this quote has been used by some to explain the bias shown in many experiments where subjects gather information to justify a preconceived notion. These experiments suggest that the mental ability described by Fitzgerald (being able to see both sides of an argument) is more uncommon than many assume.


The essays when originally written were poorly received and many reviewers were openly critical, particularly of the personal revelations. However time has been somewhat kinder to them and the collection is an insight into the mind of the writer during this low period in his life.

"The essays stand today as a compelling psychological portrait and an illustration of an important Fitzgerald theme" [2]

The philosopher Gilles Deleuze adopted the term crack-up from Fitzgerald to refer to his interpretation of the Freudian death instinct.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Fitzgerald, "The Crack-Up", p.1
  2. ^ Bitonti, paragraph 1
  • Bitonti, Tracy Simmons (12 May 2005). "The Crack-Up". Facts about Fitzgerald. Retrieved 2007-06-15. 
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1945). The Crack-Up (1st ed.). New Directions. 

External links[edit]