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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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... ZeldaFitzgerald 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 ...

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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... Véra Nabokov​ , Nora Joyce, Ann Malamud, Vivien Eliot – the list of literary victim-wives is long, but none commands as much attention as ZeldaFitzgerald. 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 ...

Fairyland

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 ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives

6 June 2013
Heroines 
by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... a real one, and to investigate it Zambreno looks back at an old-fashioned world, to perhaps the origin of the possibility of wife-and (and-writer, and-genius): the early 20th century. She discusses ZeldaFitzgerald 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 ...

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 Windsor. Rose credits Anne Frank’s diary, published in English in 1952, with the transformation of women’s autobiography; Heilbrun and Wagner-Martin agree that Nancy Milford’s study of ZeldaFitzgerald 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 – ...

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 ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood

19 May 1983
Duluth 
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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... for example, may be seen not as an escape but as a secret verdict, a last metaphor for a bungled invention. Vidal knows this very well, and speaks, in Pink Triangle and Yellow Star, of Scott and ZeldaFitzgerald 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 ...

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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... like a pikestaff’. Is that a happy memory? Natalie is headed for the US. In the days before she 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 ...
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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... Preposterous dreams can seem reasonable 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 ...

Wonder

Michael Wood

10 November 1994
The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew Bruccoli.
Cambridge, 352 pp., £30, June 1994, 9780521402316
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The Great Gatsby 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew Bruccoli.
Cambridge, 225 pp., £27.95, October 1991, 0 521 40230 1
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Scott FitzgeraldA Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 333 59935 7
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... is usually taken as a sign of his shaky geography or his eagerness to cover up his origins, or both. But the response seems too blunt and broad for that – too blunt and broad for either Gatsby or Fitzgerald. If Gatsby were at all given to making jokes, we might think this was one. There is an American myth, Fitzgerald’s myth, in which the West and the Middle West are one: they are not-the-East. The ...

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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... judgments of value. Where exactly the publication of Trimalchio, an early version of The Great Gatsby, 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 ...

Tickle and Flutter

Terry Castle: Maude Hutchins’s Revenge

3 July 2008
... of the protracted (and ultimately public) collapse of the Hutchinses’ marriage. For all the glamour they exuded – the young Bob and Maude were as tall and beautiful, everyone said, as Scott and ZeldaFitzgerald – 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 ...

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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... companions of great writers found in Seduction and Betrayal, with its fine reconsiderations of Dorothy Wordsworth and Jane Carlyle. The wife’s point of view, as she says there in her piece on ZeldaFitzgerald, ‘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 ...
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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... of the century displays of it were already drawing enormous crowds. I believe it is now recognised as a sport as dangerous as boxing, causing haemorrhage in the frontal lobes of the brain, but as ZeldaFitzgerald 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 ...

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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... and treatment, it is that knowing the stories just makes things worse. Not that we have any choice. Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, Josef Breuer, Sigmund Freud, Mary Lamb, Alice James, Anna O., ZeldaFitzgerald, 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 ...

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