Two Biographies of George & Sara Murphy Compared

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Two Biographies of George & Sara Murphy Compared

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Fev 5, 2008, 2:52 pm

Last month I read Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill. Now I've just finished a newer one Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara & Gerald Murphy edited by Deborah Rothschild and Calvin Tomkins.

Both works are good, but if I had to choose I'd pick the Rothchild/Tomkins one. This is not strictly speaking a biography. Rather it is a series of essays on various aspects of the Murphys' lives. My reason for preferring it is that it is rich in photographs and illustrations of Gerald Murphy's wonderful art.

Note to those who are unfamiliar with the Murphys. They were a talented and wealthy couple who knew everybody who was anybody in the art and literary world of the early 20th century (e.g, Hemingway, Picasso, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Archibald MacLeish). Much to their distress, the Murphys were the models for Nicole and Dick Diver in Tender Is the Night.

Fev 5, 2008, 8:49 pm

The Murphys have gotten their due in several books, my favorite being Calvin Tomkins' elegant Living Well is the Best Revenge from 1971. In Tender is the Night the first half of the book catches them perfectly, but unfortunately they were then morphed into Scott and Zelda midway through, a distortion that Fitzgerald later refused to acknowledge.

Fev 6, 2008, 8:35 pm

Thanks for this response with the information about how the Murphys were morphed into the Fitzgerald's in Tender is the Night. Amanda Vaill notes that the Murphys liked theTomkins' piece on them but Gerald especially hated the title. He claimed he never wanted revenge on anybody.