Heywood Broun (1888–1939)
From The Great American Sports Page: A Century of Classic Columns
One hundred years ago, in 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald published This Side of Paradise.
Also one hundred years ago, Heywood Broun published “This Side of Paradise?”
The former is, of course, one of the twentieth-century’s most famous debut novels; the latter is a column about college football that has been occasionally reprinted in various sportswriting and journalism anthologies. Yet Broun’s report in the New-York Tribune about the annual Princeton-Yale game only cursorily covers the play on the field; instead, it was also one of a year-long series of articles referencing and mocking Fitzgerald, his writing, and the students (“male flappers”) at Princeton. Broun’s report (much of it fictitious or embellished) was meant as a humorous sidebar to the main articles about the game by two other historic names in sportswriting: W. O. McGeehan and Grantland Rice.
The spat between Broun and Fitzgerald is one of those literary feuds that were momentous at the time but seem humorous and even a little silly now. Broun, known for his slovenly manners and dress, regarded Fitzgerald as self-promoting pretty boy who was “too immature to qualify as an interesting and faithful observer of life.” The publication of This Side of Paradise launched him on an initially one-sided battle against the upstart author—a battle which, we might add, only increased sales of the book.
And so, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of This Side of Paradise we present “This Side of Paradise?” as our Story of the Week selection, with an introduction providing additional detail about Broun’s attacks—and Fitzgerald’s response.