Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

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Through his alcoholism and her mental illness, his career lows and her institutional confinement, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's devotion to each other endured for over twenty-two years. Now, for the first time, we have the story of their love in the couple's own letters. Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda consists of more than 75 percent previously unpublished or out-of-print letters as well as extensive narrative on the Fitzgeralds' marriage by Fitzgerald scholars Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks. Dear Scott, ...

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Overview

Through his alcoholism and her mental illness, his career lows and her institutional confinement, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's devotion to each other endured for over twenty-two years. Now, for the first time, we have the story of their love in the couple's own letters. Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda consists of more than 75 percent previously unpublished or out-of-print letters as well as extensive narrative on the Fitzgeralds' marriage by Fitzgerald scholars Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks. Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda features black-and-white and color photographs, and a candid introduction by Eleanor Lanahan, the Fitzgeralds' granddaughter.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The love story of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald is one of the most famous in American history and literature. Many books have been written about their twenty-two relationship. Now, for the first time, here is the story of their love as seen through the prism of the couple's own letters to each other. The book includes valuable commentary on the missives by noted Fitzgerald scholars Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks.
New Yorker
These letters, many never before published, suggest that Scott and Zelda were both, at heart, Protestants, not voluptuaries; what comes through most clearly in this collection is their dogged, back-bowed faith in work and their dependence on each other. When, in 1918, a young lieutenant with literary pretensions began courting a Montgomery coquette, a fervid correspondence was launched. Scott, a compulsive archivist, saved his wife's letters; most of the ones he sent Zelda have been lost. Luckily, Zelda is an extravagant and funny correspondent, and watching her transformation from ingenue ("I love being rather unfathomable") to survivor is heart-rending. In 1939, the year before his death, she wrote her husband, "I am always loyal to the concepts that held us to-gether so long: the belief that life is tragic, that a mans spiritual reward is the keeping of his faith: that we shouldn't hurt each other. . . . Nothing could have survived our life."
Publishers Weekly
"Once we were one person," F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his wife in the last years of their marriage, "and always it will be a little that way." While this carefully annotated collection (edited by two scholars at the University of Maryland) is dominated by Zelda's letters more of hers are extant it provides an intimate account of an enduring romantic union (as opposed to the dirty laundry of the Fitzgeralds' spectacular Jazz Age revels and rows or Scott's descent into alcoholism and Zelda's into mental illness). Their cross-Mason-Dixon Line courtship letters begin in 1918, with Zelda displaying her ardor and "mental wickedness" and Scott responding in brief but affectionate telegrams. The Great Depression coincided with Zelda's psychological malaise, and her letters from the '30s are penned from various sanitariums and, later, her family's home in Alabama, where she convalesced under her mother's care. Scott's letters are sufficiently represented only in his final year, when he was exiled to Hollywood as a scriptwriter and had a secretary to keep copies. Among the mutual assurances of love and the occasional long-distance tiffs, Scott and Zelda sometimes discuss art Zelda's search for self-expression in writing, dance and painting; Scott's desire to be "an instrument" for "dark, tragic destiny." Although Scott's letters, typically written in his high lyric style, are unfortunately outnumbered, this collection offers many previously unpublished epistles and photographs as well as an introduction by the Fitzgeralds' granddaughter, and is a moving portrait of a two-decades-long, complicated and deep love affair. (Apr.) Forecast: The Fitzgeralds remain a popular literary couple Nancy Milford's three-decades-old Zelda still sells well so there should be demand for this collection. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This collection of letters by the Fitzgeralds to each other covers their entire relationship, from their courtship in 1918 to Scott's death in 1940. While a number of these letters have been published before (in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters and Zelda Fitzgerald: The Collected Writings, both edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli), many are being published here for the first time. The editors, both literature professors at the University of Maryland, are the first to gather the correspondence between the Fitzgeralds in one volume. The letters are presented in four parts: courtship and marriage, the years together, Zelda's three breakdowns, and the final two years of marriage. Many of the letters, especially in Part 3, are by Zelda, so this collection lets the reader sample the full range of her thoughts and emotions and helps correct mistaken impressions of the marriage left by past biographies. The editors' introductions and historical narratives are helpful in giving the broader contexts of the couple's lives and times, as are the photographs and explanatory footnotes. Recommended for medium and larger public libraries. Morris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., Brooklyn Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Carefully annotated trove of correspondence between Jazz Age icons. Scott Fitzgerald met Zelda Sayre in the closing months of WWI, when he was stationed near Montgomery, Alabama. Mutually infatuated, the two soon married. Scott set out on an ambitious campaign to become "one of the greatest writers who ever lived"; not content merely to be a muse, Zelda studied to become a ballerina. All the while they traveled, cavorted, drank, made headlines, and wrote back and forth to each other. This fine collection of letters charts the course of their marriage, from storybook romance to eventual estrangement, the result of Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's descent into mental illness. Bryer and Barks (both Literature/Univ. of Maryland) provide useful headnotes and footnotes to the correspondence, which rivals the love letters of Abelard and Heloise in thoughtful billing and cooing while enumerating a range of betrayals and dissatisfactions. The editors suggest that the Fitzgeralds' marriage was doomed from the outset, given their respective illnesses, but they conclude, taking issue with some biographers, "It is no more reasonable to say that Scott drove his wife mad than it is to say that Zelda drove her husband to drink." Both spouses emerge from these letters as hardworking, intelligent, damaged people; readers may be surprised by the readiness of Zelda's wit, even during her years of confinement in mental institutions. (Asking Scott to send books in 1931, for instance, she specifies "not [D. H.] Lawrence and not Virginia Woolf or anybody who writes by dipping the broken threads of their heads into the ink of literary history.") Some of the letters have been published before; others have beenparaphrased or briefly quoted in literary studies and biographies such as Nancy Milford's now-standard Zelda (1970). To have them all so well presented in one volume is useful indeed. A boon for general readers as well as literary scholars.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312268756
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/26/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.64 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jackson R. Bryer is a professor at the Universary of Maryland. He has edited the Fitzgerald-Perkins correspondence and Selected Letters of Eugene O'Neill.

Cathy W. Barks teaches American literature at the University of Maryland.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 24, 1896
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Death:
      December 21, 1940

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