“To 1st Lt. F. Scott Fitzgerald
“While stationed at Camp Sheridan, near Montgomery, Alabama, Fitzgerald met his future wife, Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge.” (via University of South Carolina)
World War I ended before Fitzgerald deployed. Had it gone on, there might have been no Gatsby.
It’s worth remembering that wars do not cost only lives, but also all the things those lives would make.
Whenever I hear someone in the Bush administration refuse to acknowledge that the Iraq War was a mistake (an honest mistake, I trust, but still a tragic one), I think of the would-be Fitzgeralds—American and Iraqi—whose flasks we will never see on tumblr, because we will never have the good and beautiful things they would’ve brought into the world.
RE: The Fault in Our Stars
I am now almost 100% certain that An Imperial Affliction is not a real book. JOHN GREEN, YOU TEASE. But I am absolutely 100% certain that the phrase itself comes from Emily Dickinson:
There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.
Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.
None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.
When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.
I’m not going on record as to whether the quotation from Peter van Houten’s novel An Imperial Affliction used as the epigraph to The Fault in Our Stars is “real,” because to do so would mean bringing up all kinds of questions about what constitutes “real” when you’re talking about fictions. But there’s no question that the title of An Imperial Affliction is indeed taken from this poem.
Also, Hazel pretty explicitly references this poem in the first chapter of TFiOS when she calls the late afternoon light outside the church “heavenly in its hurtfulness.”