Characters that suffer from some form of real or imagined mental disorder populate early twentieth-century Japanese literature. Many Japanese authors from this historical moment likewise publicly discussed their experiences with psychological ailments or their fear that they might be close to one such pathological experience.
The era of modernism was also the moment when psychiatry became modern—at least this is the story that psychiatry has often told about itself. With the development of new nosological taxonomies, severe forms of mental illness were identified, described, and organized into distinct categories such as manic depression and dementia praecox (later schizophrenia) by psychiatrists Emil Kraepelin and Eugen Bleuler.
Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald appeared on the cover of Hearst’s International magazine in 1922, held up as icons of the Jazz Age, of youth, talent, and burgeoning literary celebrity. This image remains one of the most recognizable of the couple. However, alongside this iconicity, Zelda Fitzgerald’s various diagnoses of mental illness have prompted critics both sympathetic and unsympathetic to remember her primarily in terms of the tragedy of her life—whether as the mad wife who brought about the downfall of her brilliant husband, or as the victim of patriarchal control and pathologization.