Of Love: Oscar Wilde, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Frida Kahlo write to the loves of their lives
From Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas. France,1897
Written by Oscar Wilde shortly after his release from prison for same-sex relations with Lord Alfred Douglas.
My own Darling Boy,
I got your telegram half an hour ago, and just send a line to say that I feel that my only hope of again doing beautiful work in art is being with you. It was not so in the old days, but now it is different, and you can really recreate in me that energy and sense of joyous power on which art depends.
Everyone is furious with me for going back to you, but they don't understand us. I feel that it is only with you that I can do anything at all. Do remake my ruined life for me, and then our friendship and love will have a different meaning to the world.
I wish that when we met at Rouen we had not parted at all. There are such wide abysses now of space and land between us. But we love each other.
Goodnight, dear. Ever yours,
From Zelda Fitzgerald to Scott Fitzgerald. Switzerland, 1930
Written by Zelda Fitzgerald when she was a patient at Les Rives de Prangins, a clinic in Nyon, recovering from a series of mental health episodes.
Dear heart, my darling love,
This is no good—but nothing matters because after to-morrow I’m going to see you again—
What a dreary rain—I rowed on the lake. It was like being on a slate roof. When the boat is not pointed into the waves it goes up with them and you keep waiting for the bump of coming down but it doesn’t come so you just slide from one to another and have no sense of direction like being on one of those oily tin platforms at Luna Parc—
I can’t write. I tried all afternoon—and I just twisted the pencil round and round churning between my teeth, and I love you. You are a darling. When you can’t write you sit on the bed and look so woebegone like a person who’s got to a store and can’t remember what they wanted to buy—
Good-night, dear. If you were in my bed it might be the back of your head I was touching where the hair is short and mossy or it might be up in the front where it make[s] little caves above your forehead, but wherever it was it would be the sweetest place, the sweetest place.
From Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera. Mexico,1953
Written by Frida Kahlo as she waited for her amputation operation to take place due to gangrene.
My dear Mr. Diego,
I’m writing this letter from a hospital room before I am admitted into the operating theatre. They want me to hurry, but I am determined to finish writing first, as I don’t want to leave anything unfinished. Especially now that I know what they are up to. They want to hurt my pride by cutting a leg off. When they told me it would be necessary to amputate, the news didn’t affect me the way everybody expected. No, I was already a maimed woman when I lost you, again, for the umpteenth time maybe, and still I survived.
I am not afraid of pain and you know it. It is almost inherent to my being, although I confess that I suffered, and a great deal, when you cheated on me, every time you did it, not just with my sister but with so many other women. How did they let themselves be fooled by you? You believe I was furious about Cristina, but today I confess that it wasn’t because of her. It was because of me and you. First of all because of me, since I’ve never been able to understand what you looked and look for, what they give you that I couldn’t. Let’s not fool ourselves, Diego, I gave you everything that is humanly possible to offer and we both know that. But still, how the hell do you manage to seduce so many women when you’re such an ugly son of a bitch?
The reason why I’m writing is not to accuse you of anything more than we’ve already accused each other of in this and however many more bloody lives. It’s because I’m having a leg cut off (damned thing, it got what it wanted in the end). I told you I’ve counted myself as incomplete for a long time, but why the fuck does everybody else need to know about it too? Now my fragmentation will be obvious for everyone to see, for you to see… That’s why I’m telling you before you hear it on the grapevine. Forgive my not going to your house to say this in person, but given the circumstances and my condition, I’m not allowed to leave the room, not even to use the bathroom. It’s not my intention to make you or anyone else feel pity, and I don’t want you to feel guilty. I’m writing to let you know I’m releasing you, I’m amputating you. Be happy and never seek me again. I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t want you to hear from me. If there is anything I’d enjoy before I die, it’d be not having to see your fucking horrible bastard face wandering around my garden.
That is all, I can now go to be chopped up in peace.
Good bye from somebody who is crazy and vehemently in love with you,