"Only the invented parts of our life had any meaning."
January 11, 2013 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Living Well Is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins is a classic New Yorker profile of Gerald and Sara Murphy, central figures of the Lost Generation social circle in 1920s France. F. Scott Fitzgerald created Dick and Nicole Diver, the central couple of Tender Is the Night, by merging himself and his wife Zelda, with the Murphys. Gerald was a painter of note (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4), whose masterpiece has been lost. After seven years of painting, Murphy stopped, and never restarted, for a host of reasons, from the illness of his son to his closeted gayness. But the Murphys are probably best known for "the special quality of their life." They hosted parties and lived in a villa on the Mediterranean coast and were both painted by many artists, including Pablo Picasso. They were the subject of a recent biography and an essay collection.
posted by Kattullus (10 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

Hey, that's not a bad cover.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:38 PM on January 11, 2013

Wow, Metafilter synchronicity strikes again. I just got my copy of Making it New, so I can put it on the shelf next to Letters from the Lost Generation and the Amanda Vaill biography. I'm a Murphy fangirl at this point. The collection of letters is incredible.

Also, it makes me grumpy about how Fitzgerald and Hemingway treated them.
posted by PussKillian at 7:26 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tender is the Night is my favorite Fitzgerald novel...thanks so much for sharing this fascinating profile piece.
posted by nonmerci at 8:03 PM on January 11, 2013

Oh man this is oerfect for me, right now my peers are in the middle of a heated Lost Generation fixation and we're all reading abiut like, Martha Gellhorn: Actual Superhero.
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 AM on January 12, 2013

Those paintings are disconcertingly modern looking. So this wasn't done in Illustrator, huh?
posted by Bron at 8:00 AM on January 12, 2013

Yeah, I had much the same reaction, Bron. After reading the New Yorker article, I was expecting some cod-L├ęger paintings, but the works are really striking and, yes, really modern.
posted by Kattullus at 8:50 AM on January 12, 2013

Great post! Just one question: how do you lose a 12' by 18' foot painting?
posted by Transl3y at 10:54 AM on January 12, 2013

I know! I wish there was some obsessive type out there scouring the world for it, or at least establishing how it got lost. It's such a beguiling absence.
posted by Kattullus at 11:04 AM on January 12, 2013

The Vaill bio led me to make a point of seeing the Making it New exhibit at Williams. What fascinating people!
posted by brujita at 3:29 PM on January 12, 2013

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