Zelda Fitzgerald - Legacy - Critical Reappraisal

Critical Reappraisal

Following Milford's biography, scholars and critics began to look at Zelda's work in a new light. In a 1968 edition of Save Me the Waltz, F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar Matthew Bruccoli wrote, "Save Me the Waltz is worth reading partly because anything that illuminates the career of F. Scott Fitzgerald is worth reading—and because it is the only published novel of a brave and talented woman who is remembered for her defeats." But as Save Me the Waltz was increasingly read alongside Milford's biography, a new perspective emerged. In 1979, scholar Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin wrote rebutting Bruccoli's position: "Save Me the Waltz is a moving and fascinating novel which should be read on its own terms equally as much as Tender Is the Night. It needs no other justification than its comparative excellence."

Save Me the Waltz became the focus of many literary studies that explored different aspects of her work: how the novel contrasted with Scott's take of the marriage in Tender Is the Night; how the commodity culture that emerged in the 1920s placed stress on modern women; and how these attitudes led to a misrepresentation of "mental illness" in women.

Zelda Fitzgerald's collected writings including Save Me the Waltz, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, were published in 1991. New York Times literary critic Michiko Kakutani wrote, "That the novel was written in two months is amazing. That for all its flaws it still manages to charm, amuse and move the reader is even more remarkable. Zelda Fitzgerald succeeded, in this novel, in conveying her own heroic desperation to succeed at something of her own, and she also managed to distinguish herself as a writer with, as Edmund Wilson once said of her husband, a 'gift for turning language into something iridescent and surprising.'"

Scholars continue to examine and debate the role that Scott and Zelda may have had in stifling each other's creativity. Zelda's biographer Cline wrote that the two camps are "as diametrically opposed as the Plath and Hughes literary camps"—a reference to the heated controversy about the relationship of husband–wife poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

Zelda's art work also has been reappraised as interesting in its own right. After spending much of the 1950s and 60s in family attics—Zelda's mother even had much of the art burned because she disliked it—scholars began to examine the art. Exhibitions of her work have toured the United States and Europe. A review of the exhibition by curator Everl Adair noted the influence of Vincent Van Gogh and Georgia O'Keeffe on her paintings and concluded that her surviving corpus of art "represents the work of a talented, visionary woman who rose above tremendous odds to create a fascinating body of work—one that inspires us to celebrate the life that might have been."

Read more about this topic:  Zelda Fitzgerald, Legacy

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