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Vampire to Victim

Nina Auerbach: The Cult of Zelda, 19 June 2003

Zelda FitzgeraldHer Voice in Paradise 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 492 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7195 5466 7
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... Zelda Fitzgerald would probably call herself a post-feminist today, but when she was alive, she made herself a flapper. In 1926, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s charmingly wild wife told an interviewer that she hoped her daughter’s generation would be even ‘jazzier’ than her own: ‘I think a woman gets more happiness out of being gay, light-hearted, unconventional, mistress of her own fate, than out of a career that calls for hard work, intellectual pessimism and loneliness ...

None of it is your material

Madeleine Schwartz: What Zelda Did, 18 April 2019

Save Me the Waltz 
by Zelda Fitzgerald.
Handheld Press, 268 pp., £12.99, January 2019, 978 1 9998280 4 2
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... Vivien Eliot – the list of literary victim-wives is long, but none commands as much attention as Zelda Fitzgerald. Recent years have treated her husband unkindly, or maybe truthfully, exposing more drinking and more affairs, but decades after Zelda’s death in a North Carolina asylum, her cult is teeming with new ...


Bruce Bawer, 2 May 1985

Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald 
by James Mellow.
Souvenir, 569 pp., £15.95, February 1985, 0 285 65001 7
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Home before Dark: A Personal Memoir of John Cheever 
by Susan Cheever.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £10.95, January 1985, 0 297 78376 9
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... Scott Fitzgerald – who was renowned in his lifetime as much for his escapades with Zelda as for his contribution to literature – would doubtless be gratified to know how profoundly most literate citizens of the English-speaking world now admire The Great Gatsby, Tender is the night, and a number of his short stories ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... of the possibility of wife-and (and-writer, and-genius): the early 20th century. She discusses Zelda Fitzgerald and ‘Vivien(ne)’ Eliot, as well as a number of other ‘women often marginalised in the modernist memory project’, whom she calls her ‘eternal reference point … an invisible community’. Heroines is narrated by a voice that is ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter, 22 September 1994

Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... of women’s autobiography; Heilbrun and Wagner-Martin agree that Nancy Milford’s study of Zelda Fitzgerald in 1970, coinciding with the early years of the women’s movement, established a new openness and frankness in the writing of biography, as well as illuminating a paradigmatic life – the Wife of the Poet. ‘There was a sense, in the late ...

Negative Honeymoon

Joanna Biggs: Gwendoline Riley, 16 August 2007

Joshua Spassky 
by Gwendoline Riley.
Cape, 164 pp., £11.99, May 2007, 978 0 224 07699 9
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... leaves, she visits the fourth floor of the Manchester Central Library, to sit among Salinger and Fitzgerald in the American literature section: ‘That day, resting my head on my folded arms, it was Joshua Spassky that I thought about. It wasn’t a memory, or a speculation; just that as I blinked at the old book spines, I saw him blinking back at ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood, 19 May 1983

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... invention. Vidal knows this very well, and speaks, in Pink Triangle and Yellow Star, of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald wanting not to go into movies but ‘to live as if they were inside a movie. Cut to Antibes. Dissolve to the Ritz in Paris.’ But Vidal himself has a perfectly clear sense of the real as real. ‘A movie is a response to reality,’ he ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee, 17 November 1983

Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... Dorothy Wordsworth and Jane Carlyle. The wife’s point of view, as she says there in her piece on Zelda Fitzgerald, ‘gives a peculiar vision, a different lighting to the stage’. We know from her novel Sleepless Nights (1979), which touches intimately on ‘the torment of personal relations’, from Lowell’s The Dolphin (1973), which uses her ...

Sprawson makes a splash

John Bayley, 23 July 1992

Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero 
by Charles Sprawson.
Cape, 307 pp., £15.99, June 1992, 0 224 02730 1
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... as a sport as dangerous as boxing, causing haemorrhage in the frontal lobes of the brain, but as Zelda Fitzgerald remarked in her Southern drawl: ‘We don’t go in for conserv-a-tion.’ She and Scott had been daring each other to dive off higher and higher pinnacles of rock at Antibes, and their host noticed how frightened he was, and yet determined ...

Tickle and Flutter

Terry Castle: Maude Hutchins’s Revenge, 3 July 2008

... they exuded – the young Bob and Maude were as tall and beautiful, everyone said, as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald – their 27-year marriage was a union made in hell: the full-bore, martini-sloshing Wasp nightmare. Hutchins’s biographers – worshipful to a man – place most of the responsibility on Maude. She had no interest in the ‘parochial ...

He had it all

Alex Harvey: Fitzgerald’s Decade, 5 July 2018

Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald 
by David S. Brown.
Harvard, 424 pp., £21.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 50482 0
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‘I’d Die for You’ and Other Lost Stories 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Scribner, 384 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4711 6473 6
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... Scott Fitzgerald​ spent his declining years in ‘a hideous town, pointed up by the insulting gardens of its rich, full of the human spirit at a new low of debasement’. Hollywood, he complained in 1940, was ‘a dump, in the human sense of the word. Everywhere there is … either corruption or indifference.’ He used to wear a dark topcoat and homburg; ‘his outfit and pallor,’ his secretary Frances Kroll recalled, ‘were alien to the style and warmth of Southern California – as if he were not at home here, had just stopped off and was dressed to leave on the next train ...

Treated with Ping-Pong

Susan Eilenberg: The History of Mental Medicine, 23 July 2009

Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present 
by Lisa Appignanesi.
Virago, 592 pp., £12.99, January 2009, 978 1 84408 234 6
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... Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, Josef Breuer, Sigmund Freud, Mary Lamb, Alice James, Anna O., Zelda Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe and Sylvia Plath are household names. Not everyone may be able instantly to identify Henriette Cornier (who in 1825 chopped off her 19-month-old charge’s head), or Augustine (Charcot’s ‘model patient’, whose much ...

The Wrong Blond

Alan Bennett, 23 May 1985

Auden in Love 
by Dorothy Farnan.
Faber, 264 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 571 13399 1
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... the right one, wrong blond(e)s after all having some tradition in literature: Lord Alfred Douglas, Zelda Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe, to name but three who were all wrong, all right. This account of the relationship between Auden and Kallman is written by the blond’s late-in-the-day stepmother, Dorothy J. Farnan, also blonde, who, if not wrong, is not ...

Daisy packs her bags

Zachary Leader: The Road to West Egg, 21 September 2000

Trimalchio: An Early Version of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by James L.W. West III.
Cambridge, 192 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 521 40237 9
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... fits into this admittedly crude narrative, is no easy question. This Side of Paradise (1920), Fitzgerald’s first novel, was published when he was 24. It was an instant commercial success, though its critical reception was mixed. It was followed in the same year by his first collection of stories, Flappers and Philosophers (a title derived from ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas Powers, 4 July 2013

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... when you’re young. ‘I want to be one of the greatest writers who have ever lived,’ Scott Fitzgerald said to his friend Edmund Wilson when they were just out of college, ‘don’t you?’ Wilson was the son of a lawyer, a bit chilly, a prodigious reader steeped in Plato and Dante. He thought Fitzgerald’s remark ...

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