Tender Is the Night Paperback – Jul 1 1995
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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."
About the Author
F. Scott Fitgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896. He attended Princeton University, joined the United States Army during World War I, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and the couple divided their time among New York, Paris, and the Riviera. Fitzgerald's masterpieces include The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died at the age of forty-four, while working on The Love of the Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald stands out as one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Dick, a psychiatrist, met Nicole at his clinic, where she was a patient. He was a brilliant young doctor and successful author, she, a broken and troubled youth. Dick helped her put the pieces back together, and married her. They lived an almost blissful existence for a time, but then Nicole began to relapse. The bulk of the novel deals with Nicole's problems and her struggle to overcome them, as well as Dick's growing problems, which he, with all his training, is not so able to move past. Dick and Nicole's relationship develops into something ugly, a shattered remnant of its past glory. And what is worse, it isn't even really Nicole's fault.
Fitzgerald has a gift for beautiful prose and a talent for storytelling that is almost unparalleled in literature. This book should be considered a classic, and surely deserved to emerge from the shadow of its sister work, The Great Gatsby, and be regarded as the masterpiece that it is.
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 . . .Read more ›
What I did find interesting however, being intimately involved with mental illness, is how sophisticated the author's understanding was in that time.
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]
Most recent customer reviews
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 on Jan. 19 2014 by Patricia Gaudet
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
I was expecting to like this book more, and only checked it out because the library didn't have 'The Great Gatsby. Read morePublished on July 12 2004 by Anyechka
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 morePublished on June 23 2004 by Gooch McCracken