It's funny that I've never given much consideration to Zelda Fitzgerald, given both my interests and the similarity between her name and my blog name. I am, surprisingly enough, not a huge fan of old F. Scott, whom I tend to find too depressing, and for a long time I didn't think of her as anything other than his wife. Despite her reputation as "America's first flapper," it never occurred to me to read up on her.
I recently watched the Amazon pilot for Z: The Beginning of Everything, starring Christina Ricci, which really sparked my curiosity about Zelda. She comes across as such a charming woman, intelligent, vivacious, and rebellious - everything you would hope that a flapper would be.
Only the first episode of the series is available so far (although I know the show was filming recently, so hopefully there will be more to come soon), but I knew that Scott Fitzgerald died pretty tragically, and the opening strongly implies a bad end for Zelda as well. I had to know more about what happened to her, and I was surprised to find out that she's become a bit of a feminist icon.
I have to wonder what kind of a life she would have lived had her story not become entwined with Fitzgerald's. She was a talented woman in her own right, and Scott liberally borrowed from her life, her experiences, and even whole passages and phrases from her diary entries in his own works.
When she completed her only novel, Save Me The Waltz, in only two months shortly after being committed to a mental institution, Scott was enraged - he had been working on a similarly themed novel, which became Tender Is The Night, and she effectively beat him to the punch. He demanded that she revise the novel, and once it was published he was scathingly critical of it. Although the novel was not highly regarded when it was published, it has lately been reevaluated as a vivid, beautifully written, but unpolished effort. Maybe, if given the chance to improve, Zelda would be as well regarded as a writer as her husband is.
Of course, we can't really know what the dynamics of their marriage were like; only they did, and they've both been gone for the better part of 70 years. To retroactively make Zelda a feminist saint and cast Scott as the villain is to flatten out a complex, fascinating, often volatile pair, and I don't think that's the correct way to give Zelda her due. Still, I'm really interested to get to know even more about her as a person, and to get a glimpse of her life from her perspective.
Reading: Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald
Zelda: A Biography by Nancy Milford
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dress, shoes: Asos
Dress clip (on belt), necklace: Vintage