She’d been in a taxi cab and was stuck in a traffic jam. Overwhelmed with fear that she was going to be late, she dove out of the taxi into oncoming traffic and proceeded to run through it in her ballet outfit.
Zelda was institutionalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia (though modern reports suggest that she may have in fact been a manic depressive). She was given a series of drugs including morphine, belladonna, potassium bromide and horse serum (which is made from the blood of a horse). She was also given insulin shots which induced significant memory loss. In spite of that, she wrote a somewhat autobiographical novel entitled Save Me The Waltz, which roughly mirrored some of the themes found in Tender is the Night.
While it’s not, say, F. Scott Fitzgerald, it’s worth pointing out that in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Critical Portrait Dan Piper note that Save Me The Waltz “was one of the first and is still one of the best stories that has been written by an American about the career of a ballerina.” Take that, Bunheads! Oh, of course it was about ballerinas.
Piper goes on to remark that: “It was a desperate attempt to give order to her confused memories. It was also a bitter attack on Fitzgerald, who was thinly disguised in her manuscript as “Amory Blaine.” [Ed note: Amory Blaine is the protagonist of Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise]. She had sent it to Max Perkins in March without Fitzgerald’s knowledge, and Perkins was enough impressed with it to be willing to publish it.”
Save Me The Waltz begins with the line: “Those girls” people said, “think they can do anything and get away with it.”
Those girls seemingly did not have F. Scott as a husband.
Scott was furious and told Max not to publish the book. He wrote “ My God, my books made her a legend and her single intention in this somewhat thin portrait is to make me a nonentity.”
Scott furthermore accused her of stealing his material. In Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise, Sarah Cline writes:
Scott could not contain himself. “So you are taking my material, is that right?”
“Is that your material?” Zelda asked. “The asylums? The madness? The terrors? Were they yours?”
Scott then told Zelda that, in addition to being a terrible ballerina, she was “a third rate writer.” Zelda told him that, “It seems to me that you are making rather a violent attack on a third-rate talent then,” and that she wanted a divorce.
Take a moment to clap for Zelda.
Scott proceeded to outline his divorce strategy in his journal. “Attack on all grounds. Play (suppress), novel (delay), pictures (suppress), character (showers), child (detach), schedule (disorient to cause trouble), no typing. Probable result – new breakdown.” So, Scott’s strategy was to gaslight her into having another nervous breakdown. Also, something about showers.