Dreams are formed in the imagination and some of us have more imagination than others.
Ginevra King was a rich 16 year old debutant and F. Scott Fitzgerald a 19 year old penniless university student when the two met and fell in love. In her diary, Ginevra wrote that she was madly in love with Fitzgerald but the thrill was gone after Ginevra’s father said “poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls.” So Ginevra dumped Fitzgerald and married someone else with lots of money. The rejection left Fitzgerald with a psychic scar that ripped into everything he wrote.
Daisy in The Great Gatsby was inspired by Ginevra. A pampered heiress, Daisy’s wealth and social status represented that carrot in front of the donkey called the American Dream. Gatsby and Daisy met and fell in love but, nevertheless, Daisy married Tom Buchanan, the epitome of American wealth and privilege. But Gatsby refused to be deprived of his dream.
Sometimes love exists only in our imagination. Like I imagine us together but you don’t. Or I imagine you to be someone special but you’re not. Or I imagine that you can make me happy but all you do is make me cry.
Gatsby’s imagination will not free him of Daisy. So a few years later he resurfaces but this time with money. Daisy, whose marriage to Tom has made her restless and pessimistic , lets Gatsby dazzle and distract her. The problem is that they have nothing in common except that they are looking for love in all the wrong places.
Gatsby wants Daisy to leave her husband so they can be together. But Daisy will never leave her husband nor he leave her. Like all the rich and elite who smash things up expecting others to clean up after them, Daisy and Tom are permanently united by their compatible vices.
Fitzgerald’s psychological imprinting led him to write love stories without happy endings like those he lived in his own life. After his breakup with Ginevra, he met Zelda, a woman who refused to be bored. Zelda liked to dance cheek to cheek, swim in the moonlight and bob her hair as a sign of emancipation. Fitzgerald wanted to marry Zelda but she, too, rejected him. So, after a drinking binge, Fitzgerald decided to become a successful novelist in order to earn Zelda’s love. He wrote This Side of Paradise which provided him with money and celebrity status. So Zelda agreed to marry him and the two immediately started to copy the lifestyle of the rich elite…the same lifestyle Fitzgerald criticized in his books.
Zelda, considered to be the first American flapper, liked to dance and write. She also painted New York cityscapes, Biblical allegories, and paper dolls. Psychedelic and whimsical, her paintings transformed the world into fairytales.
Pity that, despite what he wrote,, Fitzgerald was addicted to The American Dream– that same dream that gradually becomes a nightmare since it doesn’t permit you to enjoy what you have because you’re too busy wanting more.
Unable to be happy with Zelda, Fitzgerald persisted in gaslighting her. Already fragile thanks to depression, toxic bootleg alcohol, and bipolarism, Zelda went over the edge and was committed to a mental asylum.
Fitzgerald, at the age of 44, died in 1940 of a heart attack. Zelda died 8 years later when the asylum she was confined to caught fire. Locked in a room waiting for electro-therapy, she roasted to death.
Writer’s block appropriations.
Fitzgerald meticulously kept a ledger mainly to document the money he earned from his publications. But these ledgers were also filled with annotations meant to be recycled when, as often occurred, he suffered from writer’s block. After one block he writes in his ledger ”out of wood at last and starting novel” and began writing Gatsby.
When their relationship was over, Fitzgerald asked Ginevra to burn his letters which she did. She asked him to do the same but he didn’t. Instead he transcribed them and had them bound adapting details from them for his stories and novels. Ginevra also sent Fitzgerald a short story she’d written that’s basically the outline for The Great Gatsby. Later Ginevra would say that Fitzgerald was bright and witty but she always got the idea that he was on the outside looking in. In fact, he was a voyeur who, instead of looking in windows, looked in diaries and personal letters.
Zelda’s inner animation and active social life gave Fitzgerald much material for his writings. When Zelda would converse with others, Fitzgerald would often jot down her words on scraps of paper then stuff them in his pockets. Zelda was such a good writer that Fitzgerald’s editor wanted to publish her diaries but Fitzgerald prohibited this preferring to rip off parts of the diary for his own publications. So when Zelda was asked to review The Beautiful and the Damned for the New York Tribune, she wrote ”Mr. Fitzgerald-I believe that’s how he spells his name-seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home. ”
Before Fitzgerald even finished The Great Gatsby, his editor had the cover made. Designed by Francis Cugat, the brother of Cuban bandleader Xavier, the cover is dominated by a woman’s eyes and mouth floating on a dark blue background that well illustrated the description of Daisy as the “girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs…. “ Fitzgerald was so impressed by the drawing that he included a reference to it in the book. He described a billboard with faceless eyes looking out of an enormous pair of yellow spectacles. But although once brightly painted, the sun and rain had faded the colors in the same way elements in life can weaken the vision one has of themselves.
Imagination is a visualization in need of direction.
(from THE DIARY OF LUZ CORAZZINI)
What a great post! Thanks for the insights and illustrations!
Many thanks! By the way, I love your yarn dyeing. And walking to pick up leaves for your dyes is so very poetic!