Sunday, September 13, 2020

Today's Smile: Heywood Broun vs. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Haywood Broun

Apparently, critic Heywood Broun (1888-1939) did not at all care for F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise when it was first published - and he never changed his mind. Broun not only gave the book a bad review, he continued to take shots at it in several later newspaper columns, including one written about his attendance at the 1920 Yale-Princeton football game. Broun worked as a sports writer for part of his career so he knew what he was talking about - but he still couldn't resist taking another shot at Fitzgerald, himself a Princeton graduate. 

Who doesn't love a longterm spat between a critic and a writer? I know that I do. But what struck me as particularly funny was Broun's take on the value of a college education. As quoted in LOA's email announcement of this Sunday's LOA "story of the week," it went this way:

"...Just before the whistle blew, Captain Tim Callahan of Yale and Mike Callahan of Princeton walked out into the middle of the gridiron. The referee said: 'I guess I don't have to introduce you boys,' and he was right, because the Callahan's are brothers.

Mrs. Callahan believes in scattering her sons. She follows the old adage of 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket.' There is still another Callahan who is preparing for Ursinus. Mrs. Callahan believes that by trying all the colleges at least one of her sons is going to get an education..."

Maybe it just doesn't take much to make me laugh today, or I've finally gone stir-crazy, but I find that to be a pretty good punchline.  It worked on me, anyway.

F. Scott Fitzgerald


  1. :) I love the excerpt! I'm always looking for a smile to counteract the incessant bad news. Sometimes it's a challenge, but I like a challenge.

    1. It really can be challenging to stay positive these days, Jen, and I figure that every little bit towards that effort helps.

      Haywood Broun must have been a character in his day. He did so many things well during his varied careers. He even wrote a novel at one point later on that Fitzgerald took great joy in ridiculing. (Broun should have seen that one coming.)