"So he found 'Dorian Gray' and the 'Mystic and Somber Dolores' and the 'Belle Dame sans Merci'; for a month was keen on naught else. The world became pale and interesting, and he tried hard to look at Princeton through the satiated eyes of Oscar Wilde and Swinburne -- or 'Fingal O'Flaherty' and 'Algernon Charles', as he called them in precieuse jest. He read enormously every night -- Shaw, Chesterton, Barrie, Pinero, Yeats, Synge, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Keats, Sudermann, Robert Hugh Benson, the Savoy Operas -- just a heterogeneous mixture, for he suddenly discovered that he had read nothing for years."
[Penguin Classics edition (1996), p.
Then, after a bit more about Wilde, comes the exchange that most interests me:
One day Tom and Amory tried reciting their own and Lord Dunsany's poems to the music of Kerry's graphophone.
'Chant!' cried Tom. 'Don't recite! Chant!'
Amory, who was performing, looked annoyed, and claimed that he needed a record with less piano in it. Kerry thereupon rolled on the floor in stifled laughter.
'Put on "Hearts and Flowers"!' he howled. 'Oh, my Lord, I'm going to cast a kitten.'
'Shut off the damn graphophone', Amory cried, rather red in the face. 'I'm not giving an exhibition'.
[ibid, p. 48]
--It's interesting, to me at least, that Fitzgerald singles out Dunsany's poems (of which no collection was issued until 1929) rather than his short stories (which work very well indeed read aloud) or his plays (which tend to be short and 'poetic' but not metrical). The idea of reciting to phonograph accompaniment made me wonder if this was a carryover from the silent movies of the day, which were always accompanied by music (anything from a house orchestra to a piano player, depending on how grand or otherwise the theatre).
Also interesting, but not in a good way, is the editor's decision about which of these authors to identify in the notes he provides in the back of the book. Thus Patrick O'Donnell, the editor,
Also interesting, but not in a good way, is the editor's decision about which of these authors to identify in the notes he provides in the back of the book. Thus Patrick O'Donnell, the editor,glosses Wilde, Keats, Chesterton, Yeats, Synge, Dowson, and Symons [p. 263], having already glossed Shaw from an earlier mention; Barrie gets glossed on a later appearance over a hundred pages later. The rest-- Pinero, Sudermann, Benson, Gilbert & Sullivan ("Wasn't the comic opera, 'Patience', written about him?")--go unidentified, as does Dunsany. O'Donnell may have felt that Pinero and Gilbert & Sullivan were well-known enough to need no identification, but that seems unlikely, since he identifies the far more well known Keats, Yeats, and Shaw. Or he may have felt these five were unimportant, though in that case his selection criterion seems off to me. Personally, I'd say it's the less well known figures, like Sudermann (once a well-known playwright whose reputation has since faded) who need the gloss more than a Nobel Prize winner like Yeats. To fail to identify Dunsany means that whatever point Fitzgerald was making by making his hero an enthusiast for Ld D. at one time in his life is lost.