Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted January 30, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Classic / 2 Comments

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott FitzgeraldTitle: Tender Is the Night (Goodreads)
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: Vintage, 1933
Pages: 344
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Rosemary is a young movie scarlet on vacation in the French Rivera, with her mother. It is there that she meets the handsome psychologist Dick Diver and falls madly in love with him. The only problem is Dick is married and his wife, Nicole, a sophisticated socialite is just as lovable. While this magnetic couple draw in admirers and bask in the social spotlight, things are not as perfect as they seem. Tender is the Night is an exploration into a degenerating marriage and the differences between what people project publicly verses what is really happening under the surface.

In 1932 Zelda Fitzgerald was hospitalised for schizophrenia, although there have been huge debates since as to whether she should have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder (if it was classified back then) instead. While Zelda was being treated at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, she had a burst of creativity. Over six weeks she wrote her only novel Save Me the Waltz which was published the same year. The novel was semi-autobiographical and when F. Scott Fitzgerald read it he was furious that she shared so much of their personal life within the book. Even though Scott shares a lot of their lives in his own novels, the anger may have to do with the fact he planned to use the material for his next novel Tender is the Night. It is hard to tell how much of Scott’s novel is based on real life and how much is just written in anger towards his wife, I will have to read Save Me the Waltz to make up my own mind.

While Nicole Diver is heavily based on Zelda Fitzgerald, it is up to the reader to make up their mind about Dick and if F. Scott Fitzgerald based this character on himself. I personally think there is a lot of Scott in this character and he wants to portray himself as the handsome, intelligent husband that is devoted to his wife, looking after her through her mental illness. However this is where it gets a bit passive aggressive; Tender is the Night chronicles the downward spiral of Dick Diver’s life. As the novel progresses you begin to see just how this lifestyle and his marriage effects Dick to the point where he is nothing but a shell of his former self.

There are some interesting themes worth exploring within this novel; for me I was mostly interested in the ideas of appearance and reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s thoughts about being married. There is such beauty within the writing, but then there is so much sadness to be found as well. I found this to be a heart-breaking novel and the fact that this is based so much on his own marriage just makes things worse. I’m planning to read Save Me the Waltz very soon, just so I can compare the two novels.

2 responses to “Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. I read Save Me The Waltz a couple of years ago and it was too dramatic and clichéd an attempt at being literary, in my opinion. But there were moments where I sympathised with Zelda’s fictional counterpart, Alabama. I suppose both novels will be biased in their own ways, but it’s be curious to compare Nicole with Zelda’s self-depiction. I’d like to read Tender Is The Night.

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