Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald's love story has always been the subject of much fascination, and the obsession with their wild escapades and legendary fights shows no sign of disappearing. Last year, Z: The Beginning of Everything, brought Zelda's life to the small screen and a new biopic, which is rumored to star Jennifer Lawrence, is in the works.
But Fitzgerald himself was the first person to find dramatic inspiration in their life together. Fitzgerald's fourth and final novel, Tender is the Night, was based almost entirely on his relationship with Zelda. It tells the story of a psychiatrist who marries his own mentally ill patient, who just happens to be an heiress. They move to France together and live a life of excess, but his wife's illness eventually leads him to ruinous alcoholism and leaves his career in tatters.
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Though the protagonist is a psychiatrist and not an author, the 1934 book could almost have been an autobiography - and Fitzgerald admitted as much himself. Inside a copy of Tender is the Night that Fitzgerald gave to Zelda's psychiatrist, Robert S. Carroll, in 1936, the author wrote:
"This book had a wide reading two years ago & was pronounced a critical success. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases ... gave it a two page review..... there is a good deal of my wife in it though of course I transposed everything factual in a world of fiction ... the book ... is true symbolically to the long tragic story of the last seven years."
Fitzgerald then pointed out specific passages the doctor could peruse, presumably for insight into Zelda's condition - or at least her husband's view of it.
Fitzgerald gave the book to Carroll, then the director of the Highland Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina, when Zelda entered the hospital for the first time. Zelda would spend much of the remainder of her life as a patient at the hospital, and tragically died there in a fire in 1948.
Now the copy of the book that Fitzgerald inscribed for Carroll is going up for auction during the sale of Part III of Maurice. F. Neville's Collection of Modern Literature at Sotheby's on April 24th. It is estimated to sell for between $35,000 and $50,000. An inscribed copy of The Great Gatsby is also up for sale in the auction. The novel holds an inscription by the author thanking some good friends for their encouragement with words that are not nearly as heartbreaking as the ones he wrote to his wife's doctor.
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