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Tender Is the Night [Paperback]

F. Scott Fitzgerald
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 1995
Published in 1934, Tender Is the Night was one of the most talked-about books of the year. "It's amazing how excellent much of it is," Ernest Hemingway said to Maxwell Perkins. "I will say now," John O'Hara wrote Fitzgerald, "Tender Is the Night is in the early stages of being my favorite book, even more than This Side of Paradise." And Archibald MacLeish exclaimed: "Great God, Scott...You are a fine writer. Believe it -- not me."
Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick's harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character -- lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative -- Tender Is the Night, Mabel Dodge Luhan remarked, raised F. Scott Fitzgerald to the heights of "a modern Orpheus."

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Tender Is the Night + This Side of Paradise + The Great Gatsby
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In the wake of World War I, a community of expatriate American writers established itself in the salons and cafes of 1920s Paris. They congregated at Gertrude Stein's select soirees, drank too much, married none too wisely, and wrote volumes--about the war, about the Jazz Age, and often about each other. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, were part of this gang of literary Young Turks, and it was while living in France that Fitzgerald began writing Tender Is the Night. Begun in 1925, the novel was not actually published until 1934. By then, Fitzgerald was back in the States and his marriage was on the rocks, destroyed by Zelda's mental illness and alcoholism. Despite the modernist mandate to keep authors and their creations strictly segregated, it's difficult not to look for parallels between Fitzgerald's private life and the lives of his characters, psychiatrist Dick Diver and his former patient turned wife, Nicole. Certainly the hospital in Switzerland where Zelda was committed in 1929 provided the inspiration for the clinic where Diver meets, treats, and then marries the wealthy Nicole Warren. And Fitzgerald drew both the European locale and many of the characters from places and people he knew from abroad.

In the novel, Dick is eventually ruined--professionally, emotionally, and spiritually--by his union with Nicole. Fitzgerald's fate was not quite so novelistically neat: after Zelda was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and committed, Fitzgerald went to work as a Hollywood screenwriter in 1937 to pay her hospital bills. He died three years later--not melodramatically, like poor Jay Gatsby in his swimming pool, but prosaically, while eating a chocolate bar and reading a newspaper. Of all his novels, Tender Is the Night is arguably the one closest to his heart. As he himself wrote, "Gatsby was a tour de force, but this is a confession of faith."

Review

"A tragedy backlist by beauty." "-- Daily Express""For Fitzgerald desolation is a precondition of the lyrical. Hence the most distinctive impression of Tender: A beautiful novel about failure." "-- Independent""It is one of those books that you read and feel a shift... the story is told so poetically and eloquently. It is one of those books that you read and think: if I could only remember that sentence -- it is so beautiful." "--" Sam Taylor-Wood --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great ape May 25 2004
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
North America escaped the wave of Nihilism that beleaguered Europe after the Great War. Although escaping the horrendous casualty lists of the European nations, Americans aped Continental disillusionment with their own, anaemic version, of it. Retaining greater resources, America's wealthy survivors returned to Europe, filled with cynicism and indifference. Few books have caught the attitudes of interwar Americans as vividly as this one. It is a Judas kiss in depicting America's social values of the time. Few could enjoy the life he describes, yet all aspired to it. Fitzgerald caught and portrayed the segment of that society most people seem to remember. It's a limited view, but tightly focussed.
Richard Diver, married to what was then termed a "neurotic" woman, encounters a young movie star. Films were still silent and actresses were chosen for their physical appeal. Rosemary, although still a teen-ager, fills the image perfectly. Immature, notorious and vivacious, she sets her sights on Diver. Encouraged by her mother, although the motivation for this remains unclear, Rosemary applies her wiles on a man twice her age.
As the two encounter, separate and meet again, they interact with members of the expatriate community in France. Fitzgerald portrays most of them through the couple's viewpoint. The depictions are compelling and evocative, but there isn't an appealling one in the lot. Diver's role in the new [then] Freudian psychology gives Fitzgerald a mechanism for exploring the human psyche. The dismemberment of Freud's analysis by modern studies doesn't detract from Fitzgerald's descriptive prowess. Even from this distance in time he's remains a writer to turn to and reflect on. He's deservedly acclaimed as one of the "greats" of the twenties.
[stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Drifting Through Splendor May 6 2004
Format:Paperback
Or: Of Love and Loss: the Sacrifice for Gain. *Tender is the Night,* F. Scott Fitzgerald's tragic fourth novel, shimmers with palpable autobiographical pain; it is catharsis, plain as day, for the regrets and reduction of a personal life, and the era that encompassed it. Fragmentary yet fully contained, brilliantly lucid as it describes the derailment of sanity, via incest-trauma or the alcoholic haze - *Tender is the Night* flows like a tone poem, vividly capturing the illusions and sickened foundations of its flawed protagonists, and the escapist existence in which they dwell. Herein lay ghosts, drifting through splendor, oblivious until it is too late, and then insensate still, crippled by self-imposed restrictions: the patterns of denial, dissipation and dream-death.
The novel concerns the relationship between married couple Dick and Nicole Diver, the husband a promising young psychiatrist with obscure goals about published research, the wife a fragile flower soiled early in life, the 'damaged goods' he takes on to teach, heal, and subconsciously reap in turn. At first, presented through the innocent gaze of child-actress Rosemary, the Divers seem like the quintessence of their sophisticated era: clever, classy, both elegant and subtly sensual, people so comfortable with themselves as to avoid the games and struts of the current 'season.' Young, restful, in love with each other and life in general, the Divers exhibit the ideal of the American Dream, if expatriat-ed from American soil . . .
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fitzgerald's Autobiography April 7 2004
Format:Paperback
Tender Is the Night is uncomfortably autobiographical, written after Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda, was institutionalized. Though it begins with the story of Rosemary, an actress on vacation, hopelessly attracted to Dick Diver, a married man and successful psychiatrist, the story changes, without transtition, to focus on Dick and his wife's unsettling past. Rosemary fades almost completely out of the story while Fitzgerald, vicariously through Dick Diver, explores his coming to (or failure to come to) grips with ageing, his marriage, postwar stress, and the fear that ultimately his promising career would fail. Fitzgerald literally fulfilled his prophecy and never published another novel.
As with most Modern American literature, Tender Is the Night is a depressing story. We witness the dissolution of marriage, man, and find the Lost Generation ultimately just that--lost.
It's been several years since I read The Great Gatsby, but if memory still serves, Tender Is the Night is more captivating and, in my opinion, the better of the two.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Terribly overrated March 22 2004
Format:Paperback
I struggled to finish this book. It is laden with trivial charactersand the plot drags on endlessly while Fitzgerald keeps blindly grasping for the magic he had before he destroyed his mind with alcohol.
The writing in this novel is sloppy at best, and, as he confessed to his sometime-friend Ernest Hemingway (see Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast"), he often altered his writing for the sake of financial gain. This novel, which took over ten years to create, looks like the pained work of a man who has run out of gas. His focus was diverted by his alcoholism, his lust for financial success over artistry, and his wife's instability, and it shows.
The book drags on endlessly, and it looks like Fitzgerald is just trying to fill up pages (which he may have been, because Scribner wasn't happy with the much shorter length of The Great Gatsby).
Sure, there are a bunch of pretty sentences, and even a few unbelievable paragraphs scattered throughout, but good sentences don't make a good story, and they certainly don't overcome the weakness of these characters.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood
I see so many Gatsby fans completely bash this work, but it's one of his most complex when it comes to the characters and relationships. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Travis Mataya
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding descriptive writing
It brought me back to the post WW1 era, a romantic time for expats in Europe. The story was a little shallow but his descriptions of places and people are special. An easy read.
Published 7 months ago by Patricia Gaudet
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful
I couldn't find this book in the US, so looked to amazon.ca for some help! Book arrived promptly, in beautiful condition. Thanks so much!
Published on Jan. 8 2012 by steph
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Gatsby but still unconvincing
I was expecting to like this book more, and only checked it out because the library didn't have 'The Great Gatsby. Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by Anyechka
1.0 out of 5 stars A big fat flop
It's an utter failure. Because it's a character study without the slightest trace of characterological depth. Dick & Nicole remain dead on the page all the way thru. Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by Gooch McCracken
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
i recomend this to anyone who enjoys fitzgerald, it is perhaps his best work ever
Published on March 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars no Gatsby, but still good
Tender is the Night is no Gatsby (though what is), but it is still an important novel. It is more personal than the other of Fitzgerald's work and covers happy days in France... Read more
Published on March 13 2004 by adead_poet@hotmail.com
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet sacrifices, tender regrets
Tender is the Night was written over a decade, and it shows. Characters grow, stop, we fast forward, and they change and mature without transition. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004 by Yan Timanovsky
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant work of modern literature
I thought I had reached the high point of Fitzgerald's work when I read The Great Gatsby. I was wrong. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by bixodoido
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