You know the story of Scott and Zelda?
“Scott,” of course, was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who in 1920 was poised to become one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Zelda Sayre was the beautiful -- not just beautiful, captivating -- Southern girl he wanted to marry.
But she wasn’t all that eager to marry Scott. At the time, he had a mediocre job in an advertising agency, making a mediocre twenty dollars a week.
In effect, Zelda said to Scott: Come back when you’re successful. Maybe then...
The novel Scott proceeded to write, This Side of Paradise, wasn’t just successful; it was a blockbuster. Three days after publication, the entire first printing was sold out. Seeing this, and realizing what this meant for his future, on the fourth day after publication he sent a wire to Zelda to come north to New York; they were going to be married. He promised her "all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.”
After their marriage in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the young couple became instant celebrities.
What did you do in those days, if you found yourself suddenly rich and famous? You had a few drinks; you got drunk.
So Scott did, and stayed that way a good deal of the time. In the early days, Zelda matched him, drink for drink.
The newspapers of New York saw the couple as embodiments of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties: young, wealthy, beautiful, and energetic.
“Energetic” seems to have pretty well described them.
They were ordered to leave both the Biltmore and the Commodore hotels because of their drunken behavior. Zelda once jumped into the fountain at Union Square.
Another example of their behavior was when Dorothy Parker first met them; she wrote that Zelda and Scott were riding on the roof of a taxi.
When, in 1921, Zelda gave birth to their baby girl, Scott Fitzgerald carefully wrote what she said as she emerged from the anesthesia. He recorded Zelda saying, "Oh God, Goofo, I'm drunk. Mark Twain. Isn't she smart—she has the hiccups. I hope it's beautiful and a fool—a beautiful little fool". Many of her words found their way into Scott's novels; in The Great Gatsby, the character Daisy Buchanan expresses the same hope for her daughter.
Zelda was not dumb; she had wit and a sense of humor. When Harper & Brothers asked her to contribute to Favorite Recipes of Famous Women she wrote: "See if there is any bacon, and if there is, tell the cook which pan to fry it in. Then ask if there are any eggs, and if so try and persuade the cook to poach two of them. It is better not to attempt toast, as it burns very easily. Also, in the case of bacon, do not turn the fire too high, or you will have to get out of the house for a week. Serve preferably on china plates, though gold will do if handy".
Seeking an artistic identity of her own, Zelda wrote magazine articles and short stories and managed to publish a novel, Save Me the Waltz, in 1932.
But the days of rapture, excitement and world-iridescence faded: Scott and Zelda bickered and fought. The strain of her tempestuous, alcoholic marriage led to Zelda’s growing instability. She was admitted to a mental hospital in 1930. The end was a true tragedy. In 1948, the hospital in which she was a patient caught fire, causing her death.
Inscribed on her tombstone is the final sentence of The Great Gatsby: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
1 year ago