Sunday, June 8, 2008

Matthew J. Bruccoli

The Louise Brooks Society notes the passing of literary scholar Matthew Bruccoli. He is considered the world's leading scholar on F. Scott Fitzgerald, and was expert on many of the writer's of the Jazz Age and the inter-war period. His 1981 biography of Fitzgerald, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is recommended. I have read that book, as well as other Bruccoli authored or edited books like The Romantic Egoists, as well as various volumes of Fitzgerald's fiction, letters and notebooks. To me, Bruccoli was a hero.

Besides being a scholar, teacher, writer, and publisher, Bruccoli was also a collector. He and his wife accumulated books, manuscripts, letters and other materials by and about writers. His Fitzgerald collection, valued at more than 2 million dollars, was donated to the University of South Carolina. Bruccoli collected not out of greed or the compulsion to own something (like some collectors), but for the love of the subject. “It was collecting in order to contribute to future scholarship,” is the way one fellow academic put it.

I never met Bruccoli, but was able to pass along a few questions to him about Louise Brooks through my late friend, the book dealer Allen Milkerit. Whenever Bruccolli would come to the San Francisco  Bay Area (one of his children lived here), he would visit Allen's bookshop. On my behalf, Allen asked him if he knew anything more about Fitzgerald's and Brooks' encounter. (He did not.) Nevertheless, Allen was able to get a bunch of my Bruccolli books signed for me. Thank you Allen. I will always treasure those. [And thank you Matthew Bruccoli for all of your great work.]

I have included a link above to the New York Times obituary. Here is a link to the Washington Post obit. And here is a link to the obit in The State. And lastly, here is a link to a page detailing his academic accomplishments from the University of South Carolina, where he taught for many years.

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