The Romance of Regionalism in the Work of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald: The South Side of Paradise explores resonances of "Southernness" in works by American culture’s leading literary couple. At the height of their fame, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald dramatized their relationship as a romance of regionalism, as the charming tale of a Northern man wooing a Southern belle. Their writing exposes deeper sectional conflicts, however: from the seemingly unexorcisable fixation with the Civil War and the historical revisionism of the Lost Cause to popular culture’s depiction of the South as an artistically deprived, economically broken backwater, the couple challenged early twentieth-century stereotypes of life below the Mason-Dixon line.
From their most famous efforts (The Great Gatsby and Save Me the Waltz) to their more overlooked and obscure (Scott’s 1932 story “Family in the Wind,” Zelda’s “The Iceberg,” published in 1918 before she even met her husband), Scott and Zelda returned obsessively to the challenges of defining Southern identity in a country in which “going south” meant decay and dissolution. Contributors to this volume tackle a range of Southern topics, including belle culture, the picturesque and the Gothic, Confederate commemoration and race relations, and regional reconciliation. As the collection demonstrates, the Fitzgeralds’ fortuitous meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1918 sparked a Southern renascence in miniature.
Kirk Curnutt is professor and chair of English at Troy University.
Sara A. Kosiba holds a PhD in English from Kent State University.
A Note on the Text
Introduction: Scott and Zelda on the South Side of Paradise
Kirk Curnutt and Sara A. Kosiba
Part One: Inconstant Circles
Chapter One: Sara Mayfield: Zelda’s Southern Biographer
Chapter Two: Bittersweet Memories: Southern Womanhood in the Work of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Sarah Haardt Mencken, and Estelle Oldham Faulkner
Part Two: Tarleton Trespasses: City Limits and Artistic Expanses
Chapter Three: The Sounds and the Smells of the South: The Meaning and Use of the Auditory and Olfactory in Fitzgerald’s Tarleton Trilogy
Chapter Four: From Jelly-Bean to Jazz-Master (and Back): Region, Class, and Masquerade in the Jim Powell Stories
Chapter Five: What’s on Fitzgerald’s Bookcase?: A Rereading of ‘The Jelly-Bean’
John Allen Brooks
Chapter Six: Lamenting the Loss of Old Southern Charm: ‘The Last of the Belles’
Lauren Rule Maxwell
Part Three: Contested Territories
Chapter Seven: Going South: Disaster Beneath the Mason-Dixon Line in The Beautiful and Damned
J. Bret Maney
Chapter Eight: The Georgia-Kentucky Border and the Southern Subtext of The Great Gatsby
Chapter Nine: Southern Domesticity Abroad: A Belle’s Failed Guide to Housekeeping
Chapter Ten: Expressing the Inexpressible: The Logic of Sensation in Zelda Fitzgerald’s Art
Part Four: Border Skirmishes
Chapter Eleven: Nostalgic Exile: Mapping the South and American Modernity in ‘The Swimmers’
Chapter Twelve: ‘Family in the Wind’: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Last Great Saturday Evening Post Story
Chapter Thirteen: ‘Those Years Were Bitter on the Border’: F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Aftermath of Civil War
Helen M. Turner
Conclusion: Cartographies Interrupted: The Love of the Last Tycoon and Caesar’s Things
About the Contributors
The Curnutt and Kosiba collection moves our definition of regionalism into new territories: in these essays geography becomes economics and gender, and what we think we know about the Fitzgeralds expands usefully. Providing new perspectives on the fiction and non-fiction of both Zelda and Scott, The Romance of Regionalism also showcases a new range of brilliant critics.
The contributors to this collection about Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald adopt a new perspective, looking at them both from the American South. The results are excellent. We don't normally think of the Fitzgeralds as regionalist writers, but perhaps they were --- in the best sense.
This valuable collection of new essays is a long overdue detailed examination of the role the South played in the lives and writings of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It not only complicates our understanding of how they depicted the region in their works, but also enables fifteen experienced and knowledgeable Fitzgerald scholar-critics to provide authoritative and informed close readings of previously under-studied, or in some cases totally overlooked, novels or short stories by both Fitzgeralds. It is a major contribution to the study of two important figures in American literary history which significantly widens our understanding of their careers.
The collected essays in The Romance of Regionalism signal in its title the same allure of myth and demonstrates the fashioning of myth in the personal history and imaginative work of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Whether examining Zelda's fictional treatment of the limitations and opportunities that modernity afforded the daughters of the old Confederacy or deconstructing her husband's multiple versions of a single Civil War narrative, the inventive approaches to the Fitzgeralds' protean relationship with southern history and myth making makes these essays essential reading for anyone who desires a richer account of the tales, fables, and fantasies that helped the couple make sense of themselves.