Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband had the most toxic marriage you can imagine. Here's how he stole her writing and took credit for it.
If someone asked you to name five candidates for "The Great American Writer," I bet that no matter which combination you thought of, F. Scott Fitzgerald, author ofThe Great Gatsby, would definitely be on that list. Fitzgerald has been hailed as one of the best writers in the history of the United States, but what most people don't know is his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, had a major role in the making of the book, some even attribute entire chunks of the novel to her.
F. Scott met Zelda in 1918, when he volunteered for the army. It was love at first sight for him and Zelda became his muse. Some say pretty much every Fitzgerald female character is pretty much based on her. Zelda was not just another girl next door. She was rebellious in nature: smoked, drank alcohol, and snuck from home to spend time with boys. She basically did what she wanted and did it on her own terms. But she often got in trouble for being an attention seeker. Years later, she would become notorious for jumping into New York public fountains fully clothed. Yet her rebellious spirit was what made the couple stand out during the Roaring Twenties.
The Fitzgerald affair was briefly interrupted when he was sent away to serve, but upon his return, he wrote his first novel: This Side of Paradise. And not long after that, the Fitzgerald's became the "it" couple. They were invited to all the parties and were friends with Ernest Hemingway, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel and pretty much anyone who was anyone in the culture scene in Paris and in the United States. Yet for all the glamour, the Fitzgeralds were what we would now call toxic. They often made scenes in the middle of parties, they both had affairs, were probably alcoholic, and she even had nervous breakdowns.
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In 1922, when Scott published his second novel The Beautiful and Damned, there seemed to be chunks that were strangely familiar to her. And it was no coincidence. Her husband actually plagiarized her own writing. She wasn't having it, so Zelda wrote in a review:
"It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and also scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald -- I believe that is how he spells his name -- seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home."
That's right, Scott actually stole letters and journals from his own wife and then attempted to pass them as his own. What's worse, once they became estranged, Zelda sent a manuscript to Scott's editor, and when Scott found out, he demanded that she remove huge chunks of it. Why, you ask? Because, due to the autobiographical nature of both of their writing, those parts would be too similar to his next novel, Tender is the Night. Save Me The Waltz, Zelda’s only book, was published, but it didn't stop Scott from accusing her of using autobiographical details of their lives. What a jerk!Scott went on to write The Great American Novel The Great Gatsby, though this novel was in part inspired by Fitzgerald's real life. Things... don't end quite happily, and they didn't for Zelda either. She put in a mental institution (and her husband had a lot to do with it), where she died in fire in 1948. Sorry for ruining Fitzgerald for you.
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