Zelda Fitzgerald, along with her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, is remembered above all else as a personification of the style and glamour of the roaring twenties - an age of carefree affluence such as the world has not seen since. But along with the wealth and parties came a troubled mind, at a time when a woman exploiting her freedom of expression ...
Zelda Fitzgerald, along with her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, is remembered above all else as a personification of the style and glamour of the roaring twenties - an age of carefree affluence such as the world has not seen since. But along with the wealth and parties came a troubled mind, at a time when a woman exploiting her freedom of expression was likely to attract accusations of insanity. After 1934 Zelda spent most of her life in a mental institution; outliving her husband by few years, she died in a fire as she was awaiting electro convulsive therapy in a sanatorium. Zelda's story has often been told by detractors, who would cast her as a parasite in the marriage - most famously, Ernest Hemingway accused her of taking pleasure in blunting her husband's genius; when she wrote her autobiographical novel, Fitzgerald himself complained she had used his material. But was this fair, when Fitzgerald's novels were based on their life together? Sally Cline's biography, first published in 2003, makes use of letters, journals, and doctor's records to detail the development of their marriage, and to show the collusion between husband and doctors in a misdirected attempt to 'cure' Zelda's illness. Their prescription - no dancing, no painting, and above all, no writing - left her creative urges with no outlet, and was bound to make matters worse for a woman who thrived on the expression of allure and wealth.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-03-31 More than half a century after her death in a sanatorium fire in North Carolina, Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948) remains a controversial figure. Was she the Golden Girl and Jazz Age icon, the mad Southern belle who drove her husband to drink and destroyed his genius, or the doomed victim of Fitzgerald's ego? She was some of these and none, according to Cline's exhaustively researched biography. Cline was permitted for the first time to draw upon Zelda's medical records to document the range of treatments her physicians subjected her to in an effort to conform her to appropriately feminine behavior. Previous biographers have come down heavily in favor of one or the other of the doomed Fitzgerald pair. Cline, a Cambridge scholar and biographer of Radclyffe Hall, appears to agree with the psychiatrist who viewed the relationship as a folie deux, in which Scott viewed Zelda's desperate attempts to find an identity through writing, dance and painting as frontal attacks on his masculinity and genius, and Zelda, for her part, clung to an exhausting emotional dependence on Scott, never quite breaking free. If there is a villain here, it is Ernest Hemingway, who first launched the notion of Zelda's madness and remained her implacable enemy. Cline claims that Zelda was more successful as a writer, dancer and painter than is commonly supposed, though her argument would have been strengthened had more of Zelda's paintings been reproduced. 16 pages of b&w photos. 35,000 first printing. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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