USC library boasts of unique F. Scott Fitzgerald collection - - Columbia, South Carolina |

USC library boasts of unique F. Scott Fitzgerald collection

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A $4 million collection at the University of South Carolina is attracting national attention. It's the Matthew and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

A new movie based on his most famous work, The Great Gatsby, is set to premiere this week.

Many will remember the novel as a rite of high school passage. Park Bucker, a Fitzgerald scholar at the university's branch in Sumter, loved the book.

"The beauty of his writing is in his prose descriptions," said Bucker.

Bucker says the collection is among the largest lots of Fitzgerald memorabilia in the country. Among the cool and kitschy in the collection is Fitzgerald's briefcase and his flask is the prized piece.

There's also a handwritten ledger Fitzgerald used to record every bit of literary business he did. Many don't know Fitzgerald actually made his living on short stories. He wrote more than 160.

"It paid well and he was very good at it," said Bucker. "It wasn't hack work, they're some of the best short stories ever written."

But Gatsby remains his most famous work. It's already been adapted for the screen four times, but Friday will bring the fifth adaptation. It's a sexy and stylized version starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but Bucker knows adapting Fitzgerald isn't easy.

"It's not even apples and oranges, it's chalk and cheese," said Bucker. "You can't film some of the great passages."

Still, the message of the American dream and love lost and found is still relevant, that is, if you care to revisit your high school experience.

"The American promise is not success, according to Fitzgerald, it's you're promised the ability to aspire," said Bucker. "That you can dream of something. And I think that we as Americans still very much aspire."

The ledger is available online, but you can flip through the pages yourself, all you need is, as the library likes to say, clean hands, a pure heart and a photo ID.

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