The Night Of Chancellorsville by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1935
The magic trick:
(Attempting to) Look at the strange ways the Civil War battlefield intersected with the homefront
To say this isn’t among Fitzgerald’s finest is to badly understate the situation. It’s a dumb, mean-spirited comedy with a hardly contained sexism driving the joke.
In essence, he takes a vapid flapper of his Jazz Age stories and drops her into the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1863. But that isn’t even right. Rarely, if ever, did those women of his 1920s stories come across as detestably ignorant and oblivious as the narrator does here.
Still, we give him credit for introducing – or at least attempting to – a social point of view into the Civil War that represents the American homefront of the Civil War era. And that’s quite a trick on Fitzgerald’s part.
“Hey, where is this army?” Nell demanded. “Down in Mexico?”
I was kind of half asleep myself by that time and didn’t answer.
The next thing I knew I was woke up by a storm, the car was stopped again and I said, “It’s raining.”
“Raining!” said Nell. “That’s cannon – they’re having a battle.”
“Oh. Well, after this ride I don’t care who wins.”
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