The Disenchanted

The Disenchanted

Budd Schulberg
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt5vkbfx
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  • Book Info
    The Disenchanted
    Book Description:

    Considered by some to be Budd Schulberg's masterpiece,The Disenchantedtells the tragic story of Manley Halliday, a fabulously successful writer during the 1920s-a golden figure in a golden age-who by the late 1930s is forgotten by the literary establishment, living in Hollywood and writing for the film industry. Halliday is hired to work on a screenplay with a young writer in his twenties named Shep, who is desperate for success and idolizes Halliday. The two are sent to New York City, where a few drinks on the plane begin an epic disintegration on the part of Halliday due to the forces of alcoholism he is heroically fighting against and the powerful draw of memory and happier times. Based in part on a real-life and ill-fated writing assignment between the author and F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1939, Schulberg's novel is at its heart a masterful depiction of Manley Halliday-at times bitter, at others sympathetic and utterly sorrowful-andThe Disenchantedstands as one of the most compelling and emotional evocations of generational disillusionment and fallen American stardom.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8264-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-2)
  2. 1
    (pp. 3-10)

    It’s the waiting, Shep was thinking. You wait to get inside the gate, you wait outside the great man’s office, you wait for your agent to make the deal, you wait for the assignment, you wait for instructions on how to write what they want you to write, and then, when you finish your treatment and turn it in, you wait for that unique contribution to art, the story conference.

    Older Hollywood writers knew how to get the most out of this three- or four-week lag. They caught up on their mail or did a little proselytizing for the Guild...

  3. 2
    (pp. 11-17)

    Shep had been in the Victor Milgrim office only twice before, for two minutes of routine charm when he was first hired, and for a ten-minute monologue by Milgrim on his ideas for developingLove on lcewhen Shep was assigned to screenplay. The proportions of the room met the generous standards of Hollywood’s inner circle, but Victor Milgrim had proud confidence in the superiority of taste that marked his furnishings. It was all authentic Chippendale personally purchased for Mr. Milgrim by Lord Ronald Acworth, World-Wide’s British representative. As in his film productions and his racing stable, Milgrim had demanded...

  4. 3
    (pp. 18-28)

    Manley Halliday was reading the scenario when Shep entered. He did not look up until they came half way across the room to him, and when he did Shep saw an old young face with ashen complexion. Could this be Manley Halliday?

    Halliday lifted himself out of the deep red leather chair with stiff good manners. Shep was surprised to see that the author was several inches shorter than the image in his mind, not much over five six, a slender, delicately made man with the beginning of a small paunch.

    “Glad to meet you, sir,” Shep heard him say...

  5. 4
    (pp. 29-43)

    Halliday followed the winding path through the tropical landscaping, through, he thought wryly to himself, the Garden of Allah. This outlandish name for an apartment-hotel was a stale joke at which he still smiled from force of habit. Thirteen years ago, when he had stayed here on his first trip to Hollywood, architecture had seemed to be an extension of the studio back-lot with private homes disguised as Norman castles or Oriental mosques, with gas stations built to resemble medieval towers, and movie houses that took the form of Egyptian temples and Chinese pagodas. In that lavish heyday of the...

  6. 5
    (pp. 44-56)

    Shep had breakfast as usual at Armstrong-Shroeder’s. The waitress—a pinch-faced little woman not nearly so sour as she looked—brought him the customary grapefruit juice, Danish pastry and coffee. In the headlines II Duce was hailing the achievements of his Blackshirts in Spain. It was all over. Three do-nothing years of sophistry and hypocrisy. Shep wondered, with a mouth full of coffee-cake, whether this meant bankruptcy for the Western world. Non-intervention, “neutrality,” Munich—once more the clocks of the world seemed to be striking 1914. Everyone who came back from over there read the same signs in the darkening...

  7. 6
    (pp. 57-67)

    The Vendome’s parking lot attendant, a pimply-faced car expert and confirmed snob, made no effort to conceal his contempt for Halliday’s old-fashioned Lincoln that towered anachronistically above the sleek Caddy V16’s the new Buick 8’s, the resplendent Chrysler Imperials and the new foreign star Rosa Risa’s chromium Mercedes-Benz, his special love. Now what kind of a jerk, he wondered, would be driving up to the Vendome in a wreck like that? That was the nice thing about this job, you drove nothing but the best. That and the tips. But what sort of a tip would a Lincoln ’32 be...

  8. 7
    (pp. 68-80)

    The eyes and ears of Victor Milgrim, it seemed, were in the corridors, the office walls, behind the couches; sometimes the studio itself seemed to be merely an architectural extension of his being. And so, when Peggy’s call brought the unexpected information that Victor Milgrim was ready for their conference, Shep wondered if this was the Great Man’s way of pointing a finger at Halliday’s two-hour lunch on the other side of town. That it could be only coincidence that timed Milgrim’s call before Halliday had returned from the Vendome did not even occur to Shep. So saturated with the...

  9. 8
    (pp. 81-88)

    In the bedroom there was brisk movement between the bureau and the bed; that was Ann Loeb packing Manley’s bags. Manley was sprawled on the couch in the other room, surrounded by familiar debris, the evening papers (along with yesterday’s as well), magazines, half-read mail, library books. “It’s cheaper to buy them than take them out and never return them,” Ann was always saying. But buying transitory fiction seemed impractical to Manley. Like most impractical men he made frequent efforts at economy and efficiency.

    This clutter was a distraction to him, Manley had claimed at times. On these occasions, preparing...

  10. 9
    (pp. 89-113)

    With the abruptness of semi-tropical winter, the weather had suddenly changed an hour before. Now a gray film obscured the sharp dark line of the mountains beyond the airport. Despite the somber lighting and threatening skies, a crowd of perhaps fifty waited hopefully for a glimpse of a new film idol going East for personal appearances. He was a very young, blond boy with soft blue eyes, pink cheeks and a weak chin. When the crowd caught sight of him, conspicuously wrapped in a great camel’s hair coat, they became suddenly animated, jostling each other for a better view, waving,...

  11. 10
    (pp. 114-160)

    The white tile of the Holland Tunnel rolled past them as the airline’s black limousine raced through the enormous artery feeding the heart of the city.

    Finally they burst out into the open, into the swarming labyrinth of downtown Manhattan. There were the trucks, the cops, the bars, the stores, the cabs, the reckless pedestrians picking holes through traffic like shabby Albie Booths. There were fruit, all colors, vegetables, hock shops, Italians, Jews and the global hustle of the water front. Here the bright boys and the smart girls from the provinces come to make their fortunes; here grimy, overcrowded...

  12. 11
    (pp. 161-169)

    The door opened into a room that was also a tomb. Jere was standing there surprised, pleased, wishing he had given her time to make up (she had been lying down and looked a fright).

    “Well, Mannie, fevensakes, will you please get your ugly puss in here?”

    She had always called him ugly-puss, and she tried now to recall the old tone of bantering affection.

    He came in stiffly. She had put on weight, even more than last time, around the middle and in the face. He had thought it could no longer matter, but he felt a sharp sorrow...

  13. 12
    (pp. 170-186)

    Four or five drinks (he couldn’t be sure how many hours) later Manley came back to the Waldorf. The session at the Ship Ahoy had been just what he needed. He came in singing “I’m on the Crest of a Wave,” parodying under his breath the uninhibited bleat with which he had heard Harry Richman render it so often.

    Shep hurried to the door. “Jesus, Manley where the hell have you been?”

    The violence of the young man’s accusation brought Manley’s head up stubbornly. His body stiffened, sobered, with a sense of outrage. Whowasthis young snip to talk...

  14. 13
    (pp. 187-199)

    All the way up to Harlem through the white hush of the park, Manley kept recalling fantasies of shrill Harlem nights in the era when Harlem was the gin-spangled corridor for all good citizens with early-morning itch. Their legendary antics, his and Jere’s and their twinkling friends’, made him laugh in a way that was new to Shep but old and no longer familiar to Manley. The laughs they had had, the innocent laughter. People didn’t laugh any more, just to be laughing; now it was all at the expense of other people and other ideas.

    Manley wouldn’t let Shep...

  15. 14
    (pp. 200-285)

    They were rolling northward with a trainload of houseparty girls, girls of sixteen and eighteen; here and there a sleek, smart veteran of twenty-one; girls in bright colors and bright smiles, whose perfume and laughter transformed the Pullman into an Ivy League harem, charged with the special kind of excitement that only a very young woman can feel as she looks forward to the company of a preferred young man. If all brides are beautiful, Shep found himself paraphrasing, so are all houseparty dates.

    From behind the lavatory door of their drawing room, Shep heard the miserable sound for which...

  16. 15
    (pp. 286-296)

    Raw wind drove the wild-falling snow into their faces as they hurried across the street. The all-night diner was a bright chromium refuge. There was a sense of timelessness about the brassy riff of the disc-jockey program from the tinny radio, the expressionless face of the swarthy short-order cook doped with monotony, the skinny, fortyish waitress with too much make-up carrying on a weary tradition of idle flirtation with a truck driver.

    “Wattle it be, boys?” the waitress said.

    “Two cups of Joe but fast,” Shep said.

    “Suppose I ought to eat something,” Manley Halliday said.

    “Did we eat dinner...

  17. 16
    (pp. 297-305)

    “Know what the trouble with this drawing room is?”

    Shep didn’t bother to look up. “Don’t tell me. We’ve got enough troubles.”

    “Trouble with this drawing room is we gotta leave it in a couple of hours.”

    Manley Halliday was sitting on the long side seat with his head bent almost to his knees.

    “You better stretch out, unbutton your shirt, Manley.”

    Shep was worried about the pallor. It wasn’t a dead-white any more, but discolored as if by jaundice. And there seemed to be no color left in the eyes at all.

    “They’ll be serving breakfast soon. I’d better...

  18. 17
    (pp. 306-320)

    From the crowded Webster platform came exuberant whistles, wolf cries, shouts of “Over here” “Yoo hoo!” “Hey, Jocelyn” and “Peggy, it’s Fred!” Pouring out of the Pullman cars in a riot of color, ready with their young faces and young bodies for the time of their lives, came the bright company fifteen hundred young men had been carefully choosing, saving weekly allowances for and devoting a disproportionate amount of thought to for the past four weeks. But now all of these grave indecisions were at an end. The Moment had arrived. Committed to their choices for three carefree days, they...

  19. 18
    (pp. 321-330)

    At both ends of the long table in the inner lounge were large cut-glass bowls filled with a timid concoction popularly known as Faculty Punch, an unsuccessful compromise between teetotal beverage and alcoholic fillip. Although at least a hundred academicians had gathered to welcome these strange birds descended on them from Hollywood, there was such an emphasis on decorum that it did not sound like a social gathering at all but more like an assembly of lip readers standing around murmuring to themselves.

    The entrance of Manley Halliday was a sly joke, passing swiftly from one end of the gathering...

  20. 19
    (pp. 331-343)

    The suite they entered was so large and lavish it seemed to Shep that Victor Milgrim must have brought it with him. It was of a piece with his rooms at the Waldorf Towers, his office, the accommodations he had on theNormandie—anywhere he happened to be. A great bay window provided a magnificent view—a swell angle, Hutch had said—of the heroic-sized ice sculpture that dominated the campus.

    Victor Milgrim sat in the center of a half-circle of chairs that had been arranged by Peggy and Hutch. On his left sat Prof. Connolly and Mrs. Connolly, a...

  21. 20
    (pp. 344-363)

    Five hundred couples followed the band and the torch-lit skiers out past the lake to the slalom course. Making a lark of the weather, the marchers sang their college songs, their faces flushed with cold, houseparty cocktails and the titillating possibilities of Mardi Gras night. Suddenly, inexplicably confident, Shep found himself enjoying it again.

    “How you feeling, Manley?” he asked as they marched along with the stragglers.

    “I could climb Mt. Blanc, if a St. Bernard’d just follow me along with a brandy bottle.”

    “Here—help yourself.”

    It was a classmate of Shep’s, Bill Bonner, with a pert, pretty girl...

  22. 21
    (pp. 364-369)

    Rolling down the hill to the station through the falling snow, Manley Halliday crumpled against the seat said faintly, “Well, kid, I did it. Really loused it up for you. Christ, what luck! What luck! If only we hadn’t met Milgrim.”

    “If.” Shep looked out the window at the dark pines heavy with snow. A gay sight, from the point of view of a window-seat in a fire-warmed fraternity house, cuddled up with your best girl. But a desolate landscape now as you drove away from the scene of the crime with a man too brave for suicide but unable...

  23. 22
    (pp. 370-376)

    Cutting through Shep’s finally exhausted sleep: the insistent buzzer and the porter’s drawl. New York in half an hour. Shep eased himself over the edge of the upper, knew his own weariness as he dropped to the floor and took a quick, anxious reckoning of Manley Halliday’s condition.

    Manley had not moved. He still lay on his back in his rumpled suit with his legs sprawled and his mouth open with a need for air. Fish out of water, Shep thought. Give him five more minutes. Shep hurriedly drew on his wrinkled clothing. We’ll tumble into bed at the hotel...

  24. 23
    (pp. 377-384)

    It was the nurse, Miss Gillam, who first noticed his toes when she stripped off his socks.

    As soon as she had him in bed she called the intern, Dr. Lewis, the new one who looked at least five years younger than the twenty-six he was.

    Dr. Lewis glanced at the chart, took a quick look at the blackening toes and said, “Well, you’ve got yourself quite a frostbite.” He frowned and turned to Miss Gillam. “Call Dr. Resnick immediately, nurse.”

    Dr. Resnick, the resident, whose premature baldness gave him the look of a much older man, confirmed Dr. Lewis’s...

  25. 24
    (pp. 385-388)

    It was the waiting, Shep was thinking, always the waiting. They had been waiting for hours. In the cramped corridor of tension intensified by Jere’s shrill resentment of Ann Loeb, it seemed like days.

    The cold shadows of winter’s early twilight were lengthening rapidly when the doctors came down. Everyone stood up. It was unexpectedly formal. All three tried to read the faces of the doctors. Dr. A. A. had thrown a white coat over his operating uniform. His mask still dangled from his neck.

    Dr. Wittenberg said, “We hope everything will be all right. I thought you should hear...

  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 389-389)