1920 and now

A LETTER FROM  F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, QUARANTINED IN 1920
IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE DURING THE SPANISH INFLUENZA OUTBREAK.

Dearest Rosemary,

It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a
single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be
a collection of fallen leaves against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my
ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has
retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very
poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to
that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands.
He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be
just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s
worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum,
vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and Lord, if we need it, brandy.
Please pray for us.