In this day and age, technology has transformed how we communicate and express ourselves. Computers and other devices make it easier and faster to write out our thoughts and messages. Think back to the last time you hand wrote something — was it something of significance? Was it a shopping list or a Post-it note reminder? When was the last time you hand wrote a long piece of literature?
Looking at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s handwritten The Great Gatsby manuscript, there is something to be learned from this writing style. Scratched-out words, side notes, underlined sentences and other various edits are seen throughout the composition. It is fascinating to read and gives you a glimpse into his state of mind, something an electronically typed document could never do. Well-respected graphologist Beverly East helped shed some light on what lies behind Fitzgerald’s handwriting.
It appears chaotic and careless, suggesting that he worked in a very disorganized manner. And yet, East sees clarity in his thoughts. “Despite the many crossings out, this is identified by spacing,” she explains. Fitzgerald had the story planned out in his mind, but when it came time to put it on paper, it appears as though his thoughts were just spilling out of him.
I asked East what interests her most about the manuscript and what it tells us about Fitzgerald’s personality. “What stands out the most to me is the fluidity of the script and the sweeping T bars, which emphasize his level of enthusiasm,” she notes. “This individual had an intense and creative mind.”
She left me with an interesting thought about present-day tech. “I believe that we are spoiled with modern technology,” she explains. “There was no spell check during this era. Handwriting is brainwriting, and as the ideas came into Fitzgerald’s mind, they were transported to the paper.”