First graders love to read the dedication pages of books. They exhibit a wonderful curiosity about the who and the why and the how. And working with curious children is a fabulous way to keep one's own curiosity sparked... so the conversation I had the other day with a first grader about dedication pages and their purposes led me to dig into the background of dedication pages in some famous books we all know and (maybe) love...
One of my favorite (dare I say my absolute favorite?!?!) novels is The Great Gatsby, which F. Scott Fitzgerald dedicated "Once again to Zelda." This was, of course, his wife, Zelda Sayre. Beautiful, but mentally unstable, she inspired him to literary heights and tormented, personal depths of despair. To say their love and
Zelda and Scott
their life together were tumultuous would be an understatement. It ended with him mired in alcoholism and her locked in the Highland Mental Hospital. Aaaaah, the writing life....
Then there is Ayn Rand. Recently, I noted that I have not read her doorstops--er, novels, but I did
Frank and Ayn, then...Nathaniel now
pick up Atlas Shrugged the other day at the library and gave its 1,000+ pages a glance. It's dedication reads: "To Frank O'Connor and Nathaniel Branden." Turns out these two gents were her husband and her lover. Well, alrighty then... moving along...
From the sublime to the ridiculous... Jacqueline Susann dedicated her pot-boiler Valley of the Dolls to her poodle, Josephine, who had played a role in a previous book: "To Josephine, who sat at my feet, positive I was writing a sequel... but most of all to Irving." Irving, by the way, was her husband. So we know who came first in her life. I have already informed my cats that my next book will NOT be dedicated to them.
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