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Set On The French Riviera In The Late S, 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, Tender Is The Night Is Lyrical, Expansive, And Hauntingly Evocative i knew a dick once his name was sam, and he was a star people gravitated toward him everywhere he went i did, too he radiated light and fun and when he talked to you, he made you feel like the most important person in the room he partied hard, and he was the type of person you wanted to party with, because it was always a good time he was the son of a diplomat, knew five languages, and always knew exactly what to say or do to get the situation how he wanted it when i was about sixteen, we spent an amazing weekend together, that took us from manhattan to new jersey to connecticut, all for good reason, and it was one of the most memorable weekends of my life we talked very infrequently for the next few years, and then we hit it back up again, online, and he was such a blast to talk to so we made plans to meet up but i was older and wiser then and as much as i wanted to be with him, to breathe in his intensity, his vitality, i was guarded id been burned by then by friends who were fun and energetic but weren t, when it came down to it, there in any meaningful way there was one in particular who taught me that lesson and when sam inevitably disappointed me, i stood my ground i didnt want to be friends with someone like that i said that i wanted to believe he wasnt like that, that he was all the positive things i knew to be true but also reliable that he was reliable but that now i knew he wasnt.i wanted him to fight for me to show me i was wrong if he had insisted, i m sure i would have continued to be friends with him and it wasnt like a hard line was drawn in the sand or anything but he just wasnt interested in continuing a friendship with someone who maybe wasnt as dazzled by him any, i think but as things worked out, that was the last time i spoke to him he died four years ago that they held memorial services in literally ten different countries so, see, i m not exaggerating the effect he had on people i m not sure what my point is, except that dick reminded me of sam and like sam dick was a remarkable character i was so disappointed in his decisions, wanted to be disgusted by his actions but somehow, what i really felt, was empathy love pity there s so much pain in this book, so much longing, so much sorrow i dont know i guess maybe life is just hard for everyone, and when faced head on with that, it s hard to begrudge him his choices. When Fitzgerald finished this gem, he was stunned by the poor reviews it received I honestly think it s a profoundly true and powerful book than Gatsby ever will be His effortless and viceral writing tells a story of such complex and accurate human relationships, I often find myself reflecting on Dick Diver as a friend I should check up on, and part of me thinks I spent a year of my youth hanging out on the French Riveria having too much to drink, but somehow pulling it off sophistication Now that I sound like a lunatic, I must express this is not normal for me The world and characters really got under my skin After my first reading I woke myself by weepingand I was weeping for the characters That has never before or since happened to me It is a work of profound beauty and pain about the resilience of the human spirit If you re feeling the world is too glib, I feel this is a great antidote. How is one to feel about a protagonist who frequently displays signs of elitism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia, finds himself worryingly attracted to young girls, has no goal in life except to make himself useful to damsels in distress, and drinks away his career and marriage, ending up a mere shadow of his former self Is one supposed to regard him as a tragic hero Is one to sympathise with him And if one does sympathise with him, is that because of the way he was written, or rather because we are aware that he is a thinly veiled version of the author himself, a giant of early twentieth American literature Those were some of the questions I pondered after reading Tender Is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald s last finished novel, and possibly his most autobiographical one Set in France and Italy in the 1920s, it tells the story of two wealthy American expats, Dick and Nicole Diver largely based on the author and his wife Zelda , who seem to others the most glamorous couple ever, as fine looking a couple as could be found in Paris , but are finding their private lives increasingly less glamorous We first see the couple through the eyes of Rosemary Hoyt, a young and naive American actress holidaying in Europe Rosemary falls madly in love with suave Dick, but also admires angelic Nicole After about 130 pages during which Rosemary hangs out with the Divers and nearly embarks on an affair with Dick, the narrative stops and goes back in time to tell the story of Dick and Nicole s marriage, which is considerably complicated than Rosemary realises Nicole, it turns out, has a history of mental illness, and Dick is both her husband and the doctor treating her a recipe for disaster, obviously Being a tale of needy people, broken relationships, loss of purpose and wasted potential, Tender Is the Night is quite a depressing read, and one s appreciation of it largely depends on one s tolerance for that kind of thing If you like your books bleak and tragic, chances are you ll appreciate Tender Is the Night If not, you might want to steer clear of it.I generally love a good tragedy, but I confess I wasn t overly impressed with Tender Is the Night For a book which has garnered so many rave reviews, I found it remarkably flawed Fitzgerald himself seems to have somewhat agreed with me Despite referring to Tender Is the Night as his masterpiece and being shocked by its lack of critical and commercial success, he began reconstructing it a few years before his death, placing the flashback chapters at the beginning and making all the textual alterations required by this change However, he died before he could finish the project, or perhaps he abandoned the project as not worth completing no one seems to know for sure A friend of his, Malcolm Cowley, then completed the revision, and for years this was the standard edition of the book However, the Cowley version has fallen into scholarly disfavour or so Penguin informs me , and several publishers, Penguin included, now use the first edition, the one that Fitzgerald thought needed revision Apparently, there are no fewer than seventeen versions of the novel extant, which says much about how satisfied Fitzgerald was with his own work My guess Not very much.I read a version based on the first edition of the book, and to be honest, I can see why Fitzgerald felt it needed some work Tender Is the Night felt very disjointed to me To a certain extent, this was because of the aforementioned non linear structure, which felt a bit jarring to me However, as far as I m concerned, that is not the book s only problem, nor even its biggest one What most annoyed me was the way in which the perspective keeps shifting Fitzgerald uses an omniscient narrator in Tender Is the Night, but not consistently so the story is always written from a certain character s perspective Sometimes the perspective is Rosemary s, sometimes it s Dick or Nicole s even the minor characters have stretches of the story told from their perspectives, often on the same page as a main character s perspective To me, these shifts in point of view often felt haphazard, not to mention a little jarring I didn t think they were particularly effective, either, as they hardly build on each other and don t provide any information that couldn t be gleaned from a regular omniscient narrator I may be in a minority here, but I think the book would have benefited from a consistent approach to perspective The story itself is a bit haphazard, as well It occasionally drags, it has little plot, and there are quite a few scenes and storylines which don t really go anywhere Among several other seemingly unlikely scenes, the book contains a murder, a shooting and a duel, none of which is fully integrated into the story, and none of which is given proper significance Scenes are introduced and then left so randomly that you have to wonder why Fitzgerald bothered to include them at all At the risk of being unkind and judgemental, I guess that s what being an alcoholic will do for an author it gives you wild ideas, but prevents you from carrying them out properly.Which brings me to the characterisation I ll probably get a lot of flak for this, but I felt that Fitzgerald s vaunted characterisation was a bit off in this novel Many of the minor characters are sketchily drawn, whereas the main characters are described well sometimes brilliantly so , but never properly explained While Fitzgerald does a good and occasionally excellent job of sharing his protagonists feelings, he hardly ever bothers to explain their motivations This particularly bothered me in the parts written from Dick Diver s point of view, as Dick is supposed to be a psychiatrist By rights, he should be analysing people actions and motivations all the time, and asking lots of questions However, Dick hardly ever asks questions He does not even ask himself questions He never wonders why he is so drawn to young girls, or what it is in him that causes him to need to be their saviour He just observes other people in a way of which any intelligent person trained psychologist or not would be capable, and then describes their behaviour in a few felicitous phrases For this and other reasons, I didn t buy Dick Diver as a psychiatrist Fitzgerald may have read up on psychology and undoubtedly learned a lot from the doctors who treated his own wife , but I never found his alter ego convincing as a psychiatrist, let alone a brilliant psychiatrist To me, Dick has writer written all over him.It s a pity I kept finding such flaws, because Tender Is the Night obviously had the potential to be amazing It has all the right ingredients interesting albeit snobbish and bored characters, powerful themes, evocative albeit frequently vague writing, you name it And the story certainly doesn t lack in pathos It is quite harrowing to watch Dick Diver, a supposedly brilliant and popular man who never lives up to his potential and is increasingly torn asunder by money, alcoholism and his failed marriage to a mentally ill woman, go to pieces, becoming, in his own words, the Black Death I don t seem to bring people happiness any The fact that this was Fitzgerald writing about himself, about his own frustrations and shattered dreams, adds considerable poignancy to the reading experience Even so, Tender Is the Night ended up leaving me fairly cold, as I simply didn t care for Dick enough to be genuinely moved by his descent into failure While others may find Dick a swell guy, I myself found his complacency and lack of purpose grating, his alcoholism exasperating, and his brilliance skin deep I seem to be alone in this opinion, but I stand by it In summary, then, I enjoyed and admired aspects of Tender Is the Night, but I don t think they add up to a great whole While I appreciate Fitzgerald s brutal honesty and the masterful way in which he evokes mutual dependence, isolation and frustration, I can t shake off the feeling that the book could have been much better than it ended up being And this pains me, as I hate wasted potential as much as Fitzgerald himself seems to have done As it is, Tender Is the Night is in my opinion not just a book about wasted potential, but an example of wasted potential It is fitting, I suppose, but no less disappointing for that.3.5 stars, rounded down to three because I really didn t like it as much as many of the books I have given four stars lately. I don t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember Somewhere inside me there ll always be the person I am to night If you were to meet Dick and Nicole Diver at a party, a restaurant, or on the beach, you would leave them feeling as if you had been in the presence of greatness They are both witty, charming, gorgeous, majestic, sexy, and in command of whatever situation they find themselves in They are the sun and moon merged together, and no one shines brighter in the daylight or in the moonlight They are what many aspire to be, but few will ever achieve, the suave assurance of the Diver couple As Rosemary Hoyt, a burgeoning movie starlet, says after meeting them, The Divers made her want to stay near them forever She loves them both, but she wants a part of Dick for herself She might be naive, but even she senses that to break them apart dissipates the magic of the two of them together The Divers are at the height of their power when Rosemary meets them Nicole Warren is obscenely rich, and Dick is a successful, published psychologist They met when Nicole was suffering a mental breakdown Dick brought her back from the brink They were interested in Nicole s exterior harmony and charm, the other face of her illness She led a lonely life owning Dick who did not want to be owned The Warren family is used to owning everything in their universe She is so beautiful and tragic, and Dick, like most of us, wants to preserve lovely things He is on the verge of reaching the pinnacle of his profession He is breaking new ground and getting noticed by the top men this is 1929 in his field That drive he has to succeed erodes as he starts to enjoy the life on the Riviera than the life in a clinic in Zurich Who wouldn t Aren t we supposed to enjoy being rich Dick is well aware that there is only a small window in every smart man s life to experience success You ve taught me that work is everything and I believed you You used to say a man knows things and when he stops knowing things he s like everyone else, and the thing is to get power before he stops knowing things F Scott and Zelda FitzgeraldIt is impossible to separate F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Sayre from the characters populating his novels Their almost mythical love affair and the disastrous unraveling of their lives are mined heavily by Scott for his novels and stories Zelda was often exasperated to find something gay and spirited she had said at a party or something dark and insightful she may have shared in the privacy of the bedroom show up in Scott s writing She was in many ways the subject of all of his writing She was certainly the muse F Scott drank too much, and Zelda slowly slid into madness She died at 47 and he at 44 They had lives used up too quickly Dick has Rosemary fluttering around him like a lovely, lustrous satellite, but Nicole has her numerous admirers, as well Foremost of these is Tommy Barban He sat in the only chair, dark, scarred and handsome, his eyebrows arched and upcurling, a fighting Puck, and earnest Satan He is virile and alive and lustful He lacks Dick s polish and sophistication, but then Dick, as he drinks and , isn t exactly Dick any We can t go on like this, Nicole suggested Or can we what do you think Startled that for the moment Dick did not deny it, she continued, Some of the time I think it s my fault I ve ruined you So I m ruined, am I he inquired pleasantly I didn t mean that But you used to want to create things now you seem to want to smash them up As Dick and Nicole s dependency on one another becomes and uncertain, the influences of others start to drive wedges between them It is like watching the disintegration of a monument They can not find the synergy with other people that they had together, but they can t find it with each other any, either The whole was greater than the sum of their parts Fitzgerald is wonderful at dangling this world of infinite possibility that so infused the 1920s era Living for today, not worrying about tomorrow, and not letting the past be a burden on the present Even as he shows us this glittering world, he begins to inch back the curtain to reveal the darkness that holds it all up To be Dick and Nicole, they must be on the top of their game all the time They are performance artists They dazzle those fortunate enough to be around them, but like most rock stars, they start to feel the pressure to always entertain Alcohol or drugs can take the edge off and temporarily make them feel like themselves, but eventually the centers of who they are become buried under the shimmering facades of the people everyone wants them to be If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at