Friday, June 19, 2020

Zelda Fitgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald is a tragic figure, and not just because she died sedated and locked in in a fire that broke out at the hospital she was living at in Asheville, North Carolina, claiming her life and the lives of eight other women when she was only forty-seven, but because she will forever be known, and to some vilified, as F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda Sayre, was the pampered baby of her family. She was active and artistic from an early age, taking an interest in swimming and dance, and later an interest in drink and boys. She was as shocking as she could be given the society she was surrounded with and her strict father, the judge. But the war and the parties for the troops gave her greater leeway than a southern belle would normally have and right before her eighteenth birthday she met F. Scott and both their lives would be forever entwined and she would find notoriety as the "first American flapper."

After their marriage while she at first reveled in Scott's success, the fact that she was contributing to that success uncredited was a thorn in her side. He often took whole sections of her writing, especially from her journals, and used them for his work. When she'd write pieces of her own she would have to share writing credit just in order to get paid a fair price, or that's what Scott and his agent said. She was creatively stifled, not able to write or draw or do anything without Scott overriding her. Therefore she took solace in dance. Only she took her escape to the extreme, pushing herself too hard, making herself sick. When Scott finally told her to give up her dreams she broke down and was hospitalized. From the age of thirty onwards she would spend her life in and out of hospitals. Many people will insist that her illness and Scott's caregiving duties are what led him to never fulfill his early potential. But Scott put it best: “Perhaps 50 percent of our friends and relatives would tell you in all honest conviction that my drinking drove Zelda insane - the other half would assure you that her insanity drove me to drink.” They weren't good for each other and they self-destructed, but what a conflagration to behold.


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