Bullfights more sedate than weekend with drunk Fitzgerald, Hemingway once observed

In the latest print issue of Maisonneuve, Matthew Fox cites Alcohol and the Writer for the proposition that “71% of writers drink to excess–a rate higher than any other profession surveyed.”

Stories about drunk authors are always popular, as the recent proliferation of newspaper articles on the topic demonstrates. But Maisonneuve provides details about the drinking habits of specific writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur Rimbaud, Jean Rys, Jack Keroac, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, Delmore Schwartz, and Charles Bukowski. Here’s an excerpt:

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940)
Charming when sober, F. Scott Fitzgerald became a boorish nightmare when drunk. He frequently humiliated himself in public and embarrassed his many prominent friends. Even Hemingway, himself an intolerant drunk, claimed that bullfights were sedatives compared to weekends with Fitzgerald*….

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
The reports of Edgar Allen Poe’s drinking are almost as harrowing as his fiction, even when measured against other booze-loving writers. He was an impulsive binge drinker; once he started the only thing capable of stopping him was lack of funds or of consciousness. He was often discovered passed out in the street–wearing the clothes of a hobo, not knowing where he had been–and was once arrested for drunkenness. “It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life,” Poe said. “It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”….

* Funny, I said the same exact thing a few weeks ago about this one friend of mine.


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