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Zelda Fitzgerald's Fascinating Novel

By Abigail Bekx. Jul 24, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors

Written in the first weeks of Zelda Fitzgerald’s stay at John Hopkins University’s Phipps Clinic, Save Me the Waltz is a fictional autobiographical telling of Fitzgerald’s life and marriage. First published in 1932 by Charles Scribner’s & Sons, the novel did not sell and was heavily criticized by her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and professional critics. It was not until recent years that focus has returned to Zelda Fitzgerald’s work and an effort has been made to examine her work without her husband’s negative influence.

Save Me the Waltz Summary

Zelda_Fitzgerald,_1922_PDIn Save Me the Waltz, Fitzgerald tells the story of Alabama Beggs, a Southern girl who parallels Fitzgerald. Alabama marries David Knight, an artist she met when he was stationed in her town during World War I as an Army officer. When David suddenly becomes famous, the couple moves to France where Alabama steadily grows distant from her husband and daughter. She leaves her family when she is offered a place in a dance company in Naples, but after her first performance, a blister becomes infected, leading to blood poisoning and preventing Alabama from continuing her career as a dancer.

Alabama returns to her husband but remains miserable in her marriage. After returning home to visit her dying father, Alabama’s friends tell her how lucky she is, despite her insistence that she is unhappy. The novel ends with Alabama and David cleaning up after the last party before returning to their normal, unhappy lives.

Connections to Fitzgerald’s Life

The parallels present to Fitzgerald’s life are numerous and clear. The protagonist is a southern belle and the daughter of a judge. She marries an army officer she met and, after their marriage, he suddenly becomes famous for his creative work. They live The Great Gatsby-esq lifestyle before moving to France. One major divergence is found when Alabama accepts an offer to become a ballerina while Fitzgerald refused the opportunity. The issues faced by Alabama directly mirror the struggles Fitzgerald faced in her own life, giving greater depth to her work and its meaning.

Scott Fitzgerald’s Influence

F._Scott_Fitzgerald,_1921_PDDespite being an author in her own right, Zelda Fitzgerald’s work is almost exclusively studied only in its relationship to her husband’s work and the cultural ideas surrounding what Fitzgerald represents as the quintessential 1920s flapper.

Her first draft was controlled and destroyed by her husband after he learned of her work. Fitzgerald was forced to remove portions of her writing that F. Scott Fitzgerald planned to use in Tender is the Night or that he found inappropriate. Zelda's work was also shadowed by the forward and afterward sections that placed emphasis on her husband rather than on her, the author.

Notable Quotes

“There seemed to be some heavenly support beneath his shoulder blades that lifted his feet from the ground in ecstatic suspension, as if he secretly enjoyed the ability to fly but was walking as a compromise to convention.”

“Death is the only real elegance.”

 “People are like almanacs, Bonnie - you never can find the information you're looking for, but the casual reading is well worth the trouble.”

 “She felt the essence of herself pulled finer and smaller like those streams of spun glass that pull and stretch till there remains but a glimmering illusion. Neither falling nor breaking, the stream spins finer. She felt herself very small and ecstatic. Alabama was in love.”

 “Most people hew the battlements of life from compromise, erecting their impregnable keeps from judicious submissions, fabricating their philosophical drawbridges from emotional retractions and scalding marauders in the boiling oil of sour grapes.”

Browse More Books By Famous Women

Froehlich, Maggie Gordon. (Apr. 11, 2019). Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald. Retrieved May 27, 2019, here.
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald 1900-1948. (n.d.) Retrieved May 27, 2019, here.

Abigail Bekx
Reader, writer, and grammar nerd. Loves reading Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Brontë, and forcing her family to listen to her rants on how books are better than movies.


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