This article explores the desire for self-expression that Zelda Fitzgerald's novel Save Me the Waltz represents by drawing a parallel between the heroine's decision to take up ballet dancing and the author's own attempt to write a book that would be her own and not mere autobiographical material from a renowned artist's wife. The body looms large in such an attempt as it marks a border between self and other, and Alabama Beggs Knight's desire to control and shape her body is a metaphor for control over her own life. Likewise, Zelda Fitzgerald's dense and highly metaphorical style, which has often been criticized as excessively verbose and labored and which can make for difficult reading, is an attempt to work on the body of her text, giving the resisting material of language a shape and rhythm of her own. This is a long and difficult process that confronts the artist, ballet dancer, or writer, with the ever-threatening dissolution of self and other, and the subsequent collapse of meaning. Relying on Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject, this article shows how the body's turn from object to abject is a necessary and difficult step toward creation and marks Alabama's and Zelda Fitzgerald's progressive inscriptions as subjects acknowledging “lack” as constitutive of language and self. However, conveying this lack and negotiating the fraught relationship between self and other remains a demanding and ongoing challenge and may account for the sometimes missed encounter of this very personal book with its readers.

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