The story of Save Me the Waltz brings out the large extent to which the couple were involved in one another’s work: many scholars now claim that Zelda had a much larger hand in Scott’s work than was formerly generally recognized, and Scott certainly had an executive role in bringing Zelda’s work into being, negotiating with his own agent, Max Perkins, to get her a publishing deal. But Zelda often seemed to resent Scott’s interference, and in her review of The Beautiful and Damned in The New York Tribune of 2 April 1922, she both implicitly and explicitly accused her husband of being boring, pretentious, unoriginal, tasteless and foolish:
It is a wonderful book to have around in case of emergency. No-one should ever set out in pursuit of unholy excitement without a special vest pocket edition dangling from a string around his neck.
For this book tells exactly, and with compelling lucidity, just what to do when cast off by a grandfather or when sitting around a station platform at 4 a.m., or when spilling champagne in a fashionable restaurant, or when told that one is too old for the movies. Any of these things might come into any one’s life at any minute. Just turn the pages of the book slowly at any of the above-mentioned trying times until your own case strikes your eye and proceed according to directions. Then for the ladies of the family there are such helpful lines as: ‘I like gray because then you have to wear a lot of paint.’ Also what to do with your husband’s old shoes — Gloria takes Anthony’s shoes to bed with her and finds it a very satisfactory way of disposing of them. The dietary suggestion, ‘tomato sandwiches and lemonade for breakfast’, will be found an excellent cure for obesity.
Now, let us turn to the interior decorating part of the book. Therein can be observed complete directions for remodeling your bathroom along modern and more interesting lines, with plans for a bookrack by the tub, and a detailed description of what pictures have been found suitable for bathroom walls after years of careful research by Mr. Fitzgerald.
The book itself, with its plain green back, is admirably constructed for being read in a tub — wetting will not spoil the pages; in fact if one finds it growing dry simply dip the book briskly in warm water. The bright yellow jacket is particularly adapted to being carried on Fifth Avenue while wearing a blue or henna colored suit, and the size is adaptable to being read in hotel lobbies while waiting to keep dates for luncheon.
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.
[...] But don’t let that deter you from buying the book. In every other way the book is absolutely perfect.
The other things I didn’t like in the book — I mean the unimportant things — were the literary references and the attempt to convey a profound air of erudition. It reminds me in its more soggy moments of the essays I used to get up in school at the last minute by looking up strange names in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Review of The Beautiful and Damned in The New York Tribune, 2 April 1922, in F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Critical Reception, ed. JR Bryer (1978)
Milford, Nancy: Zelda (1970)
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