"Switzerland is a country where very few things begin, but
many things end." One trip abroad
Already a famous author by the age of 24, this spokesman for the Jazz
Age and his wife Zelda epitomized the glamorous, exuberant American youth
of the Roaring 20's. Riding high from the enormous success of his
Great Gastby, the Fitzgeralds sailed for Europe in 1925.
Fitzgerald was the self-proclaimed highest paid short story writer in world,
and yet Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald spent money faster than he earned it. The
author who wrote so eloquently about the effects of money on character was unable
to manage his own finances. They both drank heavily.
On April 23, 1930, suffering from "extreme anxiety," Zelda checked
into a hospital outside of Paris and left 9 days later. On May 22, after hearing
voices and exhibiting delusional behavior, she entered the Valmont Clinic in Glion overlooking Montreux.
On June 5, 1930, Zelda was admitted to another hospital near Geneva,
Les Rives de Prangins, where
she was diagnosed by Dr. Oscar Forel as schizophrenic. Shortly after her institutionalization,
suffered a severe bout of eczema that covered her face and neck.
Fitzgerald's stay in Switzerland inspired him to write 2 chapters of the novel Tender
Is the Night:
"On her admittance she had been exceptionally pretty-- now she was
a living agonizing sore. All blood tests had failed to give a positive reaction
and the trouble was unsatisfactorily catalogued as nervous eczema. For two
months she had lain under it, as imprisoned as in the Iron Maiden. She was
coherent, even brilliant, within the limits of her special hallucinations."
(F. S. Fitzgerald, Tender
Is the Night)
But, as he wrote short stories to pay for psychiatric treatment (The Bridal
Party, One Trip Abroad and Babylon Revisited), the work on
the novel was postponed. It would take him 6 years to finish.
While Zelda was in the hospital, Fitzgerald stayed in various hotels between Montreux and Geneva,
with occasional trips to Paris where their 10-year-old daughter, Scottie, was
in school. His longest stay was at the Hôtel
de la Paix in Lausanne, where
an original poem and inscription can still be found in the hotels guest
book. Father and daughter spent the Christmas of 1930 in Gstaad where they took skiing
lessons. In late January, 1931, Fitzgerald traveled alone to America to
attend his father's funeral. He soon returned to Europe and spent two weeks
at Lake Annecy, France, with his wife.
Zelda was released from Prangins on September 15, 1931, and the Fitzgeralds returned to the United States. F.
Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of 44. He was working
on the forever unfinished novel, The
Last Tycoon. Zelda was to spend most of the next 10 years in institutions
under the supervision of various doctors who prescribed a variety of treatments
for her persistent mental illness. She died in a fire at an American hospital