cover of book

The Subversive Art of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Deborah Pike
University of Missouri Press, 2017
eISBN: 978-0-8262-7369-7 | Cloth: 978-0-8262-2104-9
Library of Congress Classification PS3511.I9234Z84 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.52


This book gives light to the multiple artistic expressions of Great Gatsby-writer’s wife as modernist vanguard.

Known as an icon of the Jazz Age, a flamboyant socialite, and the mad wife of F. Scott, Zelda Fitzgerald has inspired studies of her life and work which focus on her earlier years, and on the myth of the glorious-but-doomed woman. As an unprecedented study of the totality Zelda Fitzgerald’s creative work, this book makes an important contribution to the history of women’s art with new perspectives on women and modernity, plagiarism, creative partnership, and the nature of mental illness.

Zelda Fitzgerald’s creative output was astonishing, considering the conditions under which she lived, and the brevity of her life: she wrote dozens of short stories, several journalistic pieces, a play, two novels, hundreds of letters, kept diaries and produced hundreds of artworks. Employing a new mode of literary analysis that draws upon critics, theorists, and historians to situate her work in its context, The Subversive Art of Zelda Fitzgerald rehabilitates the literary and artistic status of Zelda Fitzgerald by reassessing her life and writings in the light of archival sources. Such materials include medical and psychiatric documents; her unpublished novel; an artistic and spiritual diary; and over one hundred letters written from asylums.

While much of her writing can be read as a tactical response to her husband’s injunctions against her creativity, it can also be read as brilliant work in its own right.  Far from imitating Scott’s style, Zelda Fitzgerald’s artistic output is vibrantly alive and utterly her own.

Nearby on shelf for American literature / Individual authors / 1900-1960: