Zelda: A Biography

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Zelda by Nancy Milford

Happily for F. Scott Fitzgerald, his literary reputation enjoyed a posthumous revival. Things have been tougher for Zelda, although not altogether without bright spots. Modern criticism has made her look more like a thwarted artist than a harpy, and modern psychiatry has made her seem significantly less insane. Yet, if revisionist biography has established her as a person of promise in her own right, she still seems in need of rescue—from F. Scott, from herself, from slander, from oblivion.

And saving Zelda Fitzgerald is no simple proposition. Three novels released this spring find Zelda in bleak circumstances, and their authors offer various sorts of succor. Clifton Spargo writes in reconciliation sex with a paunchy F.

Scott until just before he dies. The unappealing aspects of her historical personality receive a contemporary, reader-friendly makeover. But Fowler furnishes her with a gang of lifelong girlfriends from back home in Alabama, plus growing feminist convictions.


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Seeking tranquility for his work the Fitzgeralds went to France in the spring of The Fitzgeralds remained in France until the end of , alternating between Paris and the Riviera. The Fitzgeralds returned to America to escape the distractions of France. At this time Zelda Fitzgerald commenced ballet training, intending to become a professional dancer. In April she suffered her first breakdown. She was treated at Prangins clinic in Switzerland until September , while Fitzgerald lived in Swiss hotels. Work on the novel was again suspended as he wrote short stories to pay for psychiatric treatment.

Nonetheless, the general view of his affluence is distorted. Fitzgerald was not among the highest-paid writers of his time; his novels earned comparatively little, and most of his income came from magazine stories. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald did spend money faster than he earned it; the author who wrote so eloquently about the effects of money on character was unable to manage his own finances. The Fitzgeralds returned to America in the fall of and rented a house in Montgomery.

Fitzgerald made a second unsuccessful trip to Hollywood in She spent the rest of her life as a resident or outpatient of sanitariums.

Her autobiographical novel generated considerable bitterness between the Fitzgeralds, for he regarded it as pre-empting the material that he was using in his novel-in-progress. Published in , his most ambitious novel was a commercial failure, and its merits were matters of critical dispute. Ill, drunk, in debt, and unable to write commercial stories, he lived in hotels in the region near Asheville, North Carolina, where in Zelda Fitzgerald entered Highland Hospital. After Baltimore Fitzgerald did not maintain a home for Scottie.

When she was fourteen she went to boarding school, and the Obers became her surrogate family. His trips East to visit his wife were disastrous.

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In California Fitzgerald fell in love with movie columnist Sheilah Graham. Ultimately, however, her mental health began to fail and, on March 10, , she died tragically in a fire at Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

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She was working on her second unfinished novel, Caesar's Things , at the time of her death. Zelda and F.

Zelda Fitzgerald

Scott had one child, a daughter they named Frances Scott Fitzgerald in As an adult, Frances would have her own career as a writer and become an active member of the Democratic Party. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in Montgomery. Later that same year, Zelda accepted F. The couple married on April 3, in New York City — just one week after his first book hit the market.

Due to the instant success of This Side of Paradise , the duo became overnight celebrities and indulged in the exuberance of the Roaring Twenties. On Valentine's Day in , Zelda learned she was pregnant. On October 26, in St. Paul, Minnesota, the couple welcomed Frances "Scottie" Fitzgerald to their family. Soon after, the family moved to Long Island, New York, but faced with financial ruin due to their excessive spending habits, the family moved to France in where F. Scott composed The Great Gatsby and Zelda learned to paint.


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