Zelda Paperback – Nov 3 1983
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From the Back Cover
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.
About the Author
Nancy Milford was born in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan. She published Zelda, her first book, in 1970. She holds both the M.A. and the Ph.D. from Columbia University where Zelda was her dissertation. It is now published in 11 languages. She has held a Guggenheim Fellowship in Biography, and has served on the boards of the Author's Guild, The Society of American Historians, Inc., and The Writers Room, of which she is a founder. She has also received visiting fellowships to Yale and Princeton Universities, been named a President's Fellow at Columbia University, and taught at Vassar, Bard, and Simon's Rock at Bard College.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author's writing has a cold, dispassionate quality. She has an irritating habit of mentioning obscure details (names of people, for example), and either explaining them much later or not explaining them at all (her more recent book on Edna St Millay shares this technique). The effect is curiously distancing; as if the author knows far more than she lets on and does not care to explain it all to mere mortals like us.
Given the importance of ballet in Zelda's later life, for example, why is a picture of her as a young teenager in a ballet dress included without any comment whatsoever? Did she learn ballet as a girl? Was she any good at it? Was there anything to indicate that it would later become an obsession? These are important and enlightening details that we never learn. Nor do we hear of anything beyond Zelda's death, which rather abruptly ends the book, offering little insight into her later legacy and reputation. It's as if we're constantly trying to spot the subject in the middle distance, only to find Milford's head in the way every time.
Factually, the book is faultless, which only makes this distance even more frustrating. I wanted to find Zelda; to know this fascinating person and to form my own conclusions about her, but she remained completely elusive amongst the cold, clinical facts.
Fitgerald was eager -- obsessed -- to make a name for himself, and her talent (which came through even in her madness) became his plagarized muse. Both of them fell victim to these circumstances and mindset.
After reading this bio I would bet dollars to donuts that the image that kicks off "Tender is the Night," "the tan prayer-rug of a beach," was thought up by Zelda. This bio makes clear, to my mind at least, that Scott, acutely aware of the demands of the literary craft, recognized and basically stole her strikingly visual phrases, to sprinkle through his own writing; as well as making her life the subject of several of his stories and novels.
The drawback to this book and what makes it progressively harder to read is that, in the latter half, the author Milford often uses narrative structure to drain both any sympathy for Zelda's condition and any empathy which admiration for Zelda's talent might cause. Often after a typically striking example of Zelda's prose, Milford will follow it with, "She was truly alone now," or "Her face looked haggard as she..." Milford seems to focus on such not-really-telling "details" of Zelda's life to hide her own (Milford's) basic lack of empathy.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book is very informative and well-written. It was very well researched and easy to read. I learned a lot about Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. .Published on April 14 2013 by Robert Knuckle
the parts i didn't like were those that dealt with her books-if i wanted to read her books i would have ordered those-the author goes on and on about what Zelda wrote-which made no... Read morePublished on April 20 2011 by Mary Gina Machado
I absolutely adored this book. It is extremely depressing at times to read considering the life of the woman the book is based upon, but other than that, it was fascinating. Read morePublished on May 29 2003 by Amazon Customer
"Zelda:A Biography," by Nancy Milford, is a depressing story about a woman (with a few bats in her belfry) torn by the never-ending clash of her husband's career and her... Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2002
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