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Zelda: A Biography by Nancy Milford
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Zelda: A Biography (1970)

by Nancy Milford

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The biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. This book gives us a look at a literary couple during the 20's and 30's. I found it interesting but it bogged down at times with the exchange of letters between the couple. Zelda's letters at times were hard to follow. I also thought that Scott became the lead character at times. She led a tragic life because of her illness. F. Scott was less than wonderful. ( )
  Sheila1957 | Apr 6, 2014 |
"Zelda necking with young men because she liked the shapes of their noses or the cut of their dinner jackets"

That was the only time I understood her...just a little.

I wasn't in love with Zelda from the start but her story is a fascinating one. It makes for good reading even if the lead doesn't captivate. ( )
  Tinamonster | Feb 14, 2014 |
A well-researched factual account of the life of one of the most influential 20th century American women. Zelda's life and work has already been long overshadowed by that of her husband, unjustly so. ( )
  aliform | Feb 3, 2014 |
Prefeministische biografie die Zelda niet zo nodig evenwaardig kunstenares moet laten zijn, beperkt door Scott of de tijden. Het roert me dat ze ook in/met haar gekte serieus wordt genomen. Na eerste lezing kun je je geen rond plaatje vormen en zo moet het zijn. Aan de ene kant sterker dan Scott, dan weer jaloers, dan weer onmogelijk, dan weer erg lief, de ene keer als manipulatief voorgesteld, mensen vakkundig naar haar hand zettend (tot op het laatst, ook haar moeder, als ze bij haar inwoont). Ongelukkig, in beginsel naturel, maar ook verwend, gevangen tussen strikte vader, burcht in zowel de positieve, betrouwbare/beschermende zin als ontoegankelijk, en creatieve, ordeloze moeder. De roaring twenties komen toch over als gecreëerde dolle boel, mediaconstrucite, waaraan door de Fitzgerald's werd meegewerkt. Scott hield helemaal niet van het strand en zand maar poseert gewillig, het mannetje, aan de Rivièra. Op het enige bewaarde clipje van Zelda daar, vind ik haar innemend, flitsender dan op de bewaarde foto's. Je vraagt je af of ze met hedendaagse medicatie - ik las ergens dat ze nu in de bipolaire hoek zou worden gediagnosticeerd - een rijker leven had kunnen leiden. Het dwingende van haar religieuze wanen later lijkt deels bezwering van chaos, deels erfenis van haar vader. Maar late jeugdige bezoekers vonden haar tot leven komen als ze. voor de zoveelste keer, haar leven met Scott ophaalde. Ze had ook de muren van haar kamer me scènes uit dat leven beschilderd, beetje treurig, alsof levend begraven. Maar toch ook soms in het moment kunnen leven, intens op natuur betrokken. Mislukte romanaanzetten die wellicht een poging zijn haar belevingswereld als gekkin recht te doen, tussenvorm tussen begrijpelijk en onbegrijpelijk (ze bleef er aan werken en liet weten dat het nog niet goed genoeg was), bij het onbegrijpelijke soms de tragiek van gevangenschap in waan (je kunt er niet buiten treden). Vreemde verbondenheid van Scott en zijzelf aan elkaar.

Deels is de kracht van de biografie ook de zwakte. Milford ziet af van overhaaste conclusies en laat het materiaal spreken. Tegelijk interpreteert ze me soms ook te weinig. Zo komt ze ook niet met een slotbeschouwing, trekt geen samenvattende conclusies. Historiografisch is het fijn dat ze veel mensen heeft geïnterviewd in de jaren zestig die de Fitzgeralds hebben meegemaakt of de latere Zelda op. Is toch anders dan die getuigenissen door betrokkenen zelf ('Scott zoals ik hem gekend heb') ( )
  Gerard670 | Oct 10, 2013 |
F. Scott Fitzgerald is rightly heralded as the voice of his generation and his 'The Great Gatsby' is an essential entry on high school and college reading lists. In addition to his place as a man of American letters, he was friends with just about everyone else worth knowing from his time, from Ernest Hemingway to John dos Passos to Dorothy Parker to Edmund Wilson to Edna St. Vincent Millay and everyone in between. Part of his fascination is as a flame which burned too bright and was extinguished too early. To that extent, his legend is inextricably linked with his wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. Many observers have been divided into two camps: Some, like Hemingway, insisting that Zelda's psychological instability kept Scott from living up to his literary promise and leading to his early demise. Others fall squarely into the Zelda camp, alleging Scott's alcoholism and insecurities fed into Zelda's illness and kept her from realizing her own considerable talent.

Milford's 1970 biography of Zelda manages to straddle the two camps. Their lives and their psyches were so intertwined that any biography of one seems perforce to be an analysis of the other. Milford handles both with sensitivity and clarity. Scholarship has taken us much further in the thirty plus years since this biography was published. Yet everything since owes a debt to Milford's work and original research. It is especially notable for the number of first hand interviews conducted with friends, family and contemporaries. I was amazed at her apparent complete access to Zelda's medical records - astonishing at least to eyes accustomed to this age of HIPAA and patient privacy. For these resources alone we would be indebted. For Milford's careful and incisive handling of these resources biographers ever since have been grateful.

There are more superficial handlings of Zelda's story and more up-to-date treatises. Nevertheless, this is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand Zelda Fitzgerald's artistry and role in her times.
1 vote michigantrumpet | Apr 10, 2013 |
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Für Kenneth - in Dankbarkeit und Liebe
Für Matthew und Jessica Kate
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If there was a confederate establishment in the Deep South, Zelda Sayre came from the heart of it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The correct name of the author of this work is Nancy MILFORD, not Nancy Mitford
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060910690, Paperback)

Zelda Sayre began as a Southern beauty, became an international wonder, and died by fire in a madhouse. With her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, she moved in a golden aura of excitement, romance, and promise. The epitome of the Jazz Age, together they rode the crest of the era: to its collapse and their own.

From years of exhaustive research, Nancy Milford brings alive the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda and clarifies as never before her relationship with` Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda traces the inner disintegration of a gifted, despairing woman, torn by the clash between her husband's career and her own talent.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:06 -0400)

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