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The Wrong Blond

Alan Bennett, 23 May 1985

Auden in Love 
by Dorothy Farnan.
Faber, 264 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 571 13399 1
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... the right one, wrong blond(e)s after all having some tradition in literature: Lord Alfred Douglas, Zelda Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe, to name but three who were all wrong, all right. This account of the relationship between Auden and Kallman is written by the blond’s late-in-the-day stepmother, Dorothy J. Farnan, also blonde, who, if not wrong, is not ...

A History

Allan Massie, 19 February 1981

The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... muttering in the shadows behind Kennaway’s prose, and they are the Old Firm of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. You can hear Hemingway grumbling in the rhythm of the faux-naif opening; it could be Colonel Cantwell muttering to himself as he walks through the fish-market of Venice. You can hear the echo of ...


Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... always be accepted as the truth? Or when Hemingway writes (in A Moveable Feast) that Scott Fitzgerald admitted to having been a virgin before he married Zelda, and the English actress Rosalinde Fuller writes that, on the contrary, she had a passionate affair with Fitzgerald before ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... the Civil War, while Europe had to wait for the industrial impetus of the 1914 conflict. As Scott Fitzgerald wisely observed, culture follows money, so by the time he was enjoying the Twenties and dunking Zelda in the Plaza fountain New York was where it was at. Manhattan is not New York, and New York, as people fall asleep ...

Asking to Be Looked at

Wayne Koestenbaum, 25 January 1996

Mapplethorpe: A Biography 
by Patricia Morrisroe.
Macmillan, 461 pp., £20, September 1995, 9780333669419
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Playing with the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe 
by Arthur Danto.
California, 206 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 520 20051 9
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... personal anecdote, and then back to literature: In a famous episode of A Moveable Feast, F. Scott Fitzgerald expresses concern about the size of his penis, Zelda having said it was inadequately small; and Hemingway suggests he compare himself with what is to be found on classical statues, saying that most men would be ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... the right to play. Like Beaton, the Sitwells, Cole Porter, Nancy Cunard, Noël Coward, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Lady Diana Cooper and countless other hedonistic Jazz Age types, Murphy, de Acosta and Garland took the right to play for granted, as well they might. Puritanism was an anachronism and in some renovated pagan sense tiresome and offensive ...

All your walkmans fizz in tune

Adam Mars-Jones: Eimear McBride, 8 August 2013

A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing 
by Eimear McBride.
Galley Beggar, 203 pp., £11, June 2013, 978 0 9571853 2 6
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... the heavens and the earth and the film stars we’d do with a chance.’ Then there’s Scott Fitzgerald: ‘know that I must drop the F. Think American twenties just divine and I’d be Zelda if I could. Think suffering’s worth it. To be mad a fine exciting thing to be for those short times in those mad ...


Mary-Kay Wilmers, 3 March 1983

Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 173 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 575 03189 1
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... her. ‘The most enormous influence on me in the four and a half years since I met her,’ Scott Fitzgerald once remarked of his wife, ‘has been the complete, fine and full-hearted selfishness of Zelda.’ Perhaps there is something unfailingly attractive about pretty women whose self-absorption makes them unable to cope ...

Special Frocks

Jenny Turner: Justine Picardie, 5 January 2006

My Mother’s Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Our Lives 
by Justine Picardie.
Picador, 336 pp., £12.99, September 2005, 0 330 41306 6
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... childish. ‘There is something unfinished,’ she complains, ‘about the clothes that F. Scott Fitzgerald dresses his heroines in . . . Maybe he saw it as a mark of his masculinity to leave out the details . . . Surely Zelda would have told us these things?’ That the revelation or otherwise of detail might be an ...

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