Abstract

Compromised by an abstruse plot circling around a specious bet involving far too many characters, “Six of One—” has been traditionally dismissed as an imperfect and flimsy story and has only rarely attracted the attention of literary critics. Yet a closer look at the variegated references to ancient Greek art and history F. Scott Fitzgerald has cleverly strewn across the story may yet reveal a more coherent and sophisticated project. This article considers the apparently casual reference that one character makes to the Periclean Age, that is, when Athens reached its peak, the starting point of a subtle itinerary that allows us to read “Six of One—” as both a commentary on the assumed softness of the Jazz Age generation and an indictment of the ever-immoral leisure class. The final section of the article discusses Fitzgerald's allusions in the story to Theodore Roosevelt's belief in the educational benefits of athletic brutality—football and rough games—as a definitive test of manhood for the “ornamental” youths of the 1920s.

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