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 tussling 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.


Editors Note: This letter, gone viral on social media during the coronavirus outbreak is in fact a cleverly written parody by writer, Nick Farriella, for the humour website, McSweeney’s. Farriella has recently tweeted; “when you write a parody for @mcsweeneys and it gets turned in to fake news.” This adds to myths currently circulating on social about dolphins jumping about in the canals of Venice. There are none. It is proof of the continuing power of fake news but also, perhaps, our desire to hear news that we want to hear – especially when it’s funny. AP