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Zelda Paperback – Nov 3 1983

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Paperback, Nov 3 1983
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reissue edition (Nov. 3 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060910690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060910693
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 390 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,975,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Given this book's formidable reputation as a landmark of female biography, I found it a surprising disappointment. Although I tried and tried to get close to Zelda - who was at best a very elusive character - Ms Milford simply would not let me anywhere near her.
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.
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By AJ on June 24 2002
Format: Paperback
First off, let me say that this book is WELL researched and written. It is also very long and the font is very small! As for the subject matter, I was not moved. Sure, Zelda lived in a time when women were still pushed aside, but she had it made and I didn't feel a bit sorry for her. Zelda was well-off, she didn't have to grind away in the factories (like most women of the time), she traveled Europe, she lived in mansions and she got to pursue her ambition to learn ballet. Yet she's constantly whining about "overwork" and that she's so "sick" that it made me hate her even more. The author reprints tons of Zelda's letters to F Scott and she WAS a talented writer. She did have a vivid imagination. It's just that she whines for no good reason and she's presented in a very UNSYMPATHIC way! A book that gets me this stirred up deserves no less than 5 stars!
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Format: Paperback
I re-read this as a sometime writer myself, and first read it when I was about fourteen. Now it appears to me that Zelda created original images in her writing -- as well as emotional connections -- that hadn't been put together quite that way before. Her letters, as quoted by the author, teem with improvisational phrases, original images, and sometimes deep insight, although her use of the self-important elegiac tone is typically, generally, in our culture only granted to certain male writers.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Semi-brilliant because it was still a time when Zelda was explained as sick because of her ambition and lack of satisfaction in the demands of being a wife and mother. No one thought to tell her as a child she may have to make her own way and Scott only said it later because he was tired of her financial drain on him and already looking with desire at other women. She expected exactly what she was told would happen, and it did happen for a little while, until it all started falling apart.She wasn't prepared, but made a valiant attempt to succeed- Against a destructive jealous alcoholic genius husband, a snobbish daughter, and a world that wished she would learn her "place", could you have stayed sane? Granted she wasn't an angel, but F. Scott Fitz owes his very legend to her. This book reveals through her own words and those of others what she may have been, and frankly what she became as a writer and artist is more than many "sane" people will ever be.
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