Abstract

Zelda Fitzgerald’s lone play, Scandalabra, is traditionally dismissed either as a minor literary curiosity that followed the critical and commercial failure of her only published novel, Save Me the Waltz, or as a source of domestic conflict during a turbulent, contentious time in the Fitzgeralds’ marriage when the husband accused his wife of poaching upon his artistic territory. As a result, the play has not yet been subject to proper study or commentary. A closer reading of it, however, reveals that this forgotten piece offers a fascinating, and even innovative, exercise in dramatic language, especially in its use of stage directions. By reading Scandalabra first as a text relevant to a specific movement within the tradition of theatrical realism, second as a further development of the voice its author was crafting in her short stories, and finally as a play that can benefit from a new theatrical context that understands stage directions as a place for formal and linguistic innovation, it is possible to understand the play not as an extravagance of an artist unaccustomed to writing for the theater, but rather as a conscious effort in Fitzgerald’s development as a writer.

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