Scenes from a Marriage
Scott: I did not care whether you were a writer or not if you were any good. It is a struggle. It has been a struggle to me. It is self-evident to me that nobody cares about anything. It is a perfectly lonely struggle that I am making against other writers who are finely gifted and talented. You are a third-rate writer and a third-rate ballet dancer. … If you want to write modest things you may be able to turn out one collection of short stories. For the rest, you are compared to me is just like comparing—well, there is just not any comparison. I am a professional writer with a huge following. I am the highest paid short story writer in the world. I have at various times dominated—
Zelda: It seems to me you are making a rather violent attack on a third-rate talent, then. Why in the hell you are so jealous, I don’t know. If I thought that about anybody I would not care what they wrote.
Scott: Because you are broaching at all times on my material just as if a good artist came into a room and found something drawn on the canvas by some mischievous little boy.
Zelda: Well, what do you want me to be?
Scott: I want you to do what I say. That is exactly what I want you to do and you know it. … You pick up the crumbs I drop at the dinner table and stick them into books… Everything that we have done is mine—I am the professional novelist and I am supporting you. That is all of my material. None of it is your material.
Zelda: You think it is personally all right that you feel that way and you accuse me of everything in the world, with having ruined your life, not once, but over and over again.
Scott: When did that first happen?
Zelda: You did that last fall. You sat down and cried and cried. You were drunk, I will admit, and you said I had ruined your life and you did not love me and you were sick of me and wished you could get away, and I was strained and burdened. It is impossible to live with you. I would rather be in an insane asylum where you would like to put me…What is the matter with Scott is that he has not written that book [Tender is the Night] and if he will ever get it written, he won’t feel so miserable and suspicious and mean towards everybody else. What is our marriage, anyway? It has been nothing but a long battle ever since I can remember.
—A transcript from one of Scott’s meetings with Zelda and her doctor, taken from Some Sort of Epic Grandeur.