Zelda Fitzgerald, on the other side of paradise

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Jaime G. MoraJaime G. Mora

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Only one month after Francis Scott Fitzgerald Knowing Zelda, Scribner’s returned to the writer, for review, the manuscript of which two years later, in 1920, would be his first novel: «On this side of paradise». When they finally accepted the book, conveniently retouched, Fitzgerald asked his editor, Maxwell Perkins, to publish it at Christmas: «Or, say, before February. It is that many things depend on its success – including, of course, a girl.

Fitzgerald had to wait until March and the impact of the novel was such that at 24 he became a famous writer. Money was no longer a problem to marry Zelda, and on April 3 they sealed their engagement in New York. Drunk with glory, Scott said his ambitions were to write the best novel of all time and remain in love with his wife forever. Everyone wanted to go out with them. He was an author called to renew American letters. She was a flapper, a modern girl.

"The modern ones woke up from their lethargy of predebutants, cut their hair to the garçon, put on their best earrings, a lot of impudence and blusher, and went out to enter the battle," Zelda would write in one of the eleven articles which he published between 1922 and 1934, first collected in Spanish in « Modern life »(Abada, 2019). «They flirted because it was fun to flirt and put on a one-piece swimsuit because they had a nice guy; they covered their faces with dusts and paint because they didn't need them and refused to get bored mainly because they weren't bored.

The famous marriage lived "in a hurry in the most euphoric of the worlds." Facing the gallery they were a happy couple, a symbol of youth and success; in the privacy of his bedroom the fights were continuous due to excesses with alcohol, jealousy and infidelities. Zelda began to lose her mind. "But we're still tremendously in love and we're almost the only happy marriage I know," said Scott. «The biggest influence I have received since I met her has been the cold mind and Zelda's full, refined and enthusiastic selfishness».

There is another way to see it, which Zelda summed up with some frivolity in her review of «Beautiful and damn»:« Mr. Fitzgerald seems to believe that well-understood plagiarism begins at home ». Scott incorporated in his works fragments of letters and diaries of Zelda, but he was enraged when she wanted to publish a novel that she wrote in one of her psychiatric stays. It included autobiographical aspects that coincided with some passages of the manuscript of «Soft is the night»And Scott forced him to suppress them:« My books turned her into a legend and the only thing she intends with this undisguised portrait is to become a nullity ».

Zelda published that one novel, «Book me the waltz»,« A good novel, perhaps a very good novel », according to Scott, eleven stories, a play and the eleven articles of« Modern life ». They are brief essays – about the fashions of the time, the rooms of the hotels in which they stayed, the entrance in the thirties … – that Zelda wrote before her dementia condemned her to oblivion and that help to complete the profile of the first "flapper" icon. Or was an artist frustrated by her husband?

"In his own way, it was very original, perhaps with a more intense brightness than I ever reached, but he tried and continues to try to solve all ethical and moral problems on his own, without the help of thousands of dead predecessors," Fitzgerald wrote. to your daughter Scottie shortly before dying «His letters are tragically bright in every way, except the vital ones. How strange that he failed as a social creature.

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