Friday, January 11, 2013

Tender is the Night by F. S. Fitzgerald - a Review

The Jazz Age was in full swing in 1920s Paris.  American expatriates met in the cafes, formed writer groups and wrote about life in Europe between the wars. Francis Scott Fitzgerald, author of Tender is the Night, was part of this literary gathering in Paris, along with Hemingway and a few others. They were dubbed part of the 'Lost Generation' by Gertrude Stein. 



Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night,
Scribner Paperback 2003


Tender is the Night is the story of Dick Diver, a brilliant young psychiatrist who falls in love with one of his patients, Nicole Warren. They travel in Europe, and have their own villa in France, near Cannes. The cover photo shown above is my copy of the book, the original version of the story.

In Part I, the Divers are the sophicated, elegant couple on the Riviera, the shining stars of their own parties. Into this setting are invited those who amuse the couple, and a few regulars who know the rules.  Dick and Nicole seem to be the idyllic couple, but hiding behind this illusion are the secret lovers, the hushed whispers, the illness not-to-be-discussed.

Part II, the backstory in this edition, shows how Dick and Nicole met and how Dick is absorbed into the bullish Warren family. The relationship is fraught with problems which are never addressed, steeping resentment on both sides.

Part III, accustomed to the high lifestyle and unhealthy habits he has acquired, Dick looks for something to reaffirm his faith in life. His health begins to suffer. Nicole is also looking for something more.

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Fitzgerald's prose is rich, like chocolate.  I liked the insider's view of high society in a time when adults in their twenties and thirties were unsure of what the future held for them. In this version of Tender is the Night, the backstory in Part 2 was a risk. This format wasn't popular with the readers of the day. In response, a new edition was published in the 1950s, changing the sections to a chronological order.

Considered one of the great writers of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940) died at home of a massive heart attack at the relatively young age of 44.  Poor health and lifelong alcoholism were the main reasons given for his death.

Other novelsThis Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and the posthumously, The Love of the Last Tycoon.  Publisher: Scribner Paperback, 2003.

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Are you a fan of the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald?  Have you read any of his other works? The Great Gatsby? Did you know that many compared Fitzgerald to Dick Diver, the character in Tender is the NightPlease share in the comments.

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References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._Scott_Fitzgerald - F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, early background, the Jazz Age.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tender_Is_the_Night - The Novel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Generation - the Lost Generation

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66 comments:

  1. Yeah, those guys who were part of the "lost generation" had some serious issues with alcohol. A lot of them were WW1 vets dealing with depression and feeling untethered from the rest of society. They came up with some good novels though. I've only read The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, but should probably check out Tender is the Night one of these days.

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    1. Drinking in those days was considered sophisticated, but after a war, one's principles can take a beating. Out of the dregs of war, these writers brought forth visions that we could all share.

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  2. I loved Gatsby and this coming summer I promised myself I would read more of the "classic" authors, something I haven't done. Vonnegut, Hem, Stein, etc. Like you said, it's like chocolate. Unfortunately, I've had to give that up, so I need to find another addiction. lol

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    1. I read a literary classic about every third book, but only those I want to read. I like reading about older Paris, when the expatriates lived there.

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  3. I've only read the Great Gatsby, though I quite liked it. I've always meant to read more of his work, though I never seem to get around to actually doing it.

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    1. I read Tender is the Night every morning for a few minutes, and get through some of my books that way. (I didn't get to read much either, Bryan when the kids were young.)

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    1. Tender is the Night has some similarities with The Great Gatsby which is placed in the States. In this we get the European view after the war.

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  5. I should read more Fitzgerald. I enjoy literature. It is rich and wonderful.

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    1. I mix my literary with a little modern scifi and a pinch of suspense.

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  6. TENDER IS THE NIGHT I like far better than THE GREAT GATSBY. Zelda's fate was tragic, dying as an inmate in an asylum when it burned. It is a world of sorrow because we make it so. Have you seen MIDNIGHT IN PARIS? I can't remember if you told me. Roland

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    1. Yes, I loved 'Midnight in Paris' because it brought back memories. Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Dali were there. The casting was as good as it gets.

      The Fitzgeralds had a sad life, always keeping up appearances. Being in the limelight is stressful.

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  7. I love Fitzgerald. I'm catching up on my reading in this time period. I'll definitely read this one.

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    1. I recommend it, Tonja, it reveals a life superficially perfect, but realistically flawed.

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  8. OMG, you have a First Edition copy of "Tender is the Night" -- I stared at the cover for the longest. What a treat! This has got to be one of the best books ever written. Fitzgerald was so ahead of his time.

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    1. Not a first edition, Kittie, a first version, the original story as first published. A First Edition would be a lot better, but alas.

      I enjoyed this story, and love this time period for writers. Reading this shows how much has changed, and how much has not.

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  9. i love fitzgerald, but have not read this one--i will put it on my list--thanks :)

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    1. This is a bittersweet tale, and Fitzgerald handles it well.

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  10. I've never read this book. I have however, read The Great Gatsby.

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    1. A lot of people think Tender is the Night is better than Gatsby. So give it a try. I liked it better.

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  11. I haven't read Fitzgerald. It's amazing and sad to me how young some of the great authors were when the produced such masterpieces, and then died. You wonder how much more they would've contributed to our literary archives had they lived to old age.

    xoRobyn

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    1. It is a sad that he died so young. Reading 'Tender is the Night' has made me want read 'This Side of Paradise' next. His style of writing is a pleasure to read.

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  12. Goodness... such a classic. Thanks for this excellent description, D.G. I haven't read this!

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    1. You're welcome. I think you'd enjoy it. I did.

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  13. I like Fitzgerald. Never knew that 'Tender' was considered to be somewhat autobiographical, but I can see it.

    Saw Roland's comment. I loved 'Midnight in Paris' and the depiction of these authors and artists.

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    1. 'Midnight in Paris' was exceptional if you like this time period and the writers and artists of that time. I do. Belle Epoch (artists) and Lost Generation (writers)appeal to me.

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  14. Paris in the 20s would be the equivalent of the blogging community today, maybe. It must have been an exciting time. I wonder if they all realized that.

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    1. Good comparison, Joylene. I think some of the writers did realize the value of peer support. Fitzgerald even had editorial support at times.

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  15. I love Fitzgerald! The Great Gatsby is actually one of my favourite books (because who can choose just ONE favourite book?)! Tender Is the Night is very close on my list to The Great Gatsby, however!

    Fitzgerald was one of the first classic authors I felt I truly connected to, I think. I'd read many a novel before but never really felt like the characters' problems in the books were also my problems, you know? Somehow Fitzgerald reached through time and grabbed me from the very first line of Gatsby. T'was AMAZE.

    <3

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    1. Welcome and thanks for the follow, Mia. I like the descriptions of Dick Diver's romantic ruminations in Tender is the Night.

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  16. Has been too long since I've read Fitzgerald. I think I'm going to give myself a modern book sabbatical sometime soon and dive back into the classics. I miss them.

    I find it comforting that editors felt a need to rearrange even Fitzgerald. The close tie between writers and alcoholism scares me a bit though.

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    1. I try to make every third or fourth book a literary novel from my TBR stack.

      As for the alcoholism, it was one way of coping with memories of war.

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  17. I love the classics, but Fitzgerald is one author I haven't read. For years I was so attracted to the Russians, with Chekov as my favourite...then I fell in love with Oscar Wilde..I have so many 'favourite' authors it's crazy. I love the idea of Paris in the 20's. I'll have to read some Fitzgerald! It's kind of nuts that I've gotten to be this old without doing that already!

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  18. Oh wow, 44?? Yet another author I have heard so much about that it feels like I've read him, yet I haven't. Or at least I don't think so. Love your description of his prose.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. I enjoyed it. Wait til you read his descriptions of the landscape and the women.

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  19. Great book review. I was surprised at how modern Fitzgerald's writing was when I read The Great Gatsby. I don't know what I was expecting, but it kind of read like an episode of Gossip Girl. Better prose, of course, but quite a plot.

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    1. Never considered that comparison, but I agree, it's not difficult reading.

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  20. I've only read a few of his short stories. Can you believe it? Not even Gatsby.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. To start with, Lee, you have to like the location setting and the premise of the book. You just have to find one you like.

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  21. I have never read a work by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby is on my list of classics to get around to, though--and hopefully this year.

    Thanks for the review!

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    1. I find reading a literary novel in between modern novels makes me appreciate both styles more.

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  22. I've never read any of his books, either.

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    1. It's a new year, why not give Fitzgerald a try?

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  23. While I love the jazz age from the perspective of those who actually played the jazz, many of whom also went to Paris, I'm having a bit of a problem with those who could afford to become The Lost Generation. I have read The Great Gatsby and don't remember liking it very much. And I'm no great fan of Hemingway either. But I saw Midnight in Paris and loved it. And I also loved your review of this book and all the above interesting comments.
    Thank you for your encouragement regarding my tests. I am working on attitude! Yes, we do have mountain lions here, but they usually stay up above us where there is more deer and I assume more water too. One was around here in 2005 and one got killed on our hiqhway a few years later, so they are around, but never seen, which is just fine with me.

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    1. Thanks for all that info on the mountains lions, I was worried about you walking about so early in the mornings in the mountains. No offense, Samson. Hubs said dogs will deter the big cats, though.

      I didn't think I'd like reading about the wealthy lifestyles, but it was the hidden motivations, and the psychological angles in the story that I liked.

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  24. I was big on classic lit in college and enjoyed a few Fitzgerald titles but I don't remember reading this one. (I say that, but if I picked it up, it might come back to me) His books are all delightfully readable, even if they're always a little on the dark side.

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  25. I was too, CQG, but I've been starting to read some of the classics again. I want to know the secret of their longevity. (doesn't everyone?)

    Take care of yourself, that last event was scary.

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  26. ...Fitz is a classic storyteller. My son is currently reading his work ;)

    El

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    1. That's great that your son is reading Fitzgerald. Which one? Is it of his own accord?

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  27. I have only read The Great Gatsby and did so as part of a high school English class. I have more than once felt the need to read it again, but not gotten around to doing so. I have never heard of Tender is the Night, but your post has me wanting to read it, even before reading The Great Gatsby again!

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    1. If I've made you want to read this novel, Julie, that's great. Now follow up on that. Thanks for visiting.

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  28. I like his prose, too; I've read GATSBY and BENJAMIN BUTTON, but now I'll add this one to my reading queue as well. Great review!

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    1. Thanks, Milo. I haven't read Benjamin Button. It's interesting what influences our reading choices.

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  29. Hey again DG! Just wanted to let you know that I have an award for you at my blog. Not sure how you feel about these things, there's no obligation or anything like that. hope things are well with you.

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    1. Thanks, and I will check at your blog, Eve, just to say hi.

      See the Tags/Awards tab at the top of my page for my policy on these.

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  30. Thanks for stopping by. I had the same problem with dinner and supper when I moved from LA to VA. When I visit Louisiana now, I'm not quite sure which is meant, LOL.

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    1. I kept having to ask what time - that gave me a clue.

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  31. I left a reply on the A to Z Blog about word count on Challenge posts.
    To summarize, there is no rule concerning word count. Let me know if that was stated somewhere and I'll correct it.

    Thanks

    Lee
    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. Thanks, Lee, I replied on the A to Z Blog. I liked your explanation, so I'll consider joining in this year but won't know for sure until mid Feb.

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  32. I am happy to teach Great Gatsby every year to my seniors. I've read all of his books I think. Once I heard a story of a famous author who had writer's block--he was told to write out Great Gatsby by hand. By so doing this author learned rhythmic prose, but he said it didn't cure his writer's block, ha ha! Could be worse exercises to be given, that's for sure!
    Thanks for this great review.

    Denise

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    1. My pleasure, Denise. I don't think I'd like rewriting another person's work.

      As for Fitzgerald's writing, he has a lyrical quality that's hard to define but a pleasure to read.



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  33. Hi DG .. thanks for directing me here - I've scanned .. but need to come back and read, when I get round to reading The GG .. and read the links you've given us ..

    Now of course as I know a tiny bit - then I'm more interested .. so I'll be back - thanks for referring me here ..

    I wish I was more read up! But never too late to learn .. cheers Hilary

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    1. It's never too late to learn. The speed with which we learn - now that's another thing. . .

      Thanks for visiting, Hilary! You amaze me with the many things you do.

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  34. Of course I had to see if I'd commented on this one, too and, since I didn't remember having done so, I am pleased to see that I did not.

    This has been a really worthwhile series.

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    1. I'm glad you liked the series. I might list them together under my book review tab.

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