A Letter from Scott Fitzgerald to Grieving Friends

F. Scott Fitzgerald (the author of The Great Gatsby) wrote a letter that is quoted in a book I am reading for my Comparative Japanese Literature class. The book I got this letter from is called An Echo of Heaven by Oe Kenzaburo. It is interesting and different and disturbing. The letter was written by Fitzgerald to old friends living in Southern France who had just lost both of their children, one after the other. Here is the letter (originally in English by Fitzgerald, translated in Japanese by Oe, and retranslated back into English by Margaret Mitsutani. It may actually be the original letter’s text properly researched and reproduced instead of a multilayered translation scheme):

Dearest Gerald and Sarah,
The telegraph came today and the whole afternoon was so sad with thoughts of you and the past and the happy times we had once. Another link binding you to life is broke and with such insensate cruelty that it is hard to say which of the two blows was conceived with more malice. I can see the silence in which you hover now after this seven years of struggle and it would take words like Lincoln’s in his letter to the mother who had lost four sons in the war to write you anything fitting at the moment. The sympathy you will get will be what you have had from each other already and for a long, long time you will be inconsolable.
But I can see another generation growing up around Honoria and an eventual peace somewhere, an occasional port of call as we all sail deathward. Fate can’t have any more arrows in its quiver for you that will wound like these. Who was it said that it was astounding how the deepest griefs can change in time to a sort of joy? The golden bowl is broken indeed but it was golden; nothing can ever take those boys away from you now.  Scott

There is a lot of wisdom in what he says here for those seeking to console in unbelievably difficult situations. And those of us that know the One Who came back from death and reversed the deathward path we all tread with Him, should be even more greatly comforted and comforting in times mourning.

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  1. November 3rd, 2011

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