2011: 4. Tender is the Night

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.”

Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

        Oh, I have to say, Tender is the Night doesn’t do it for me.  I’m an avowed Gatsby lover, too, but this one I just couldn’t care about.  It is, of course, about Dick and Nicole Diver, who are part Scott and Zelda and part Gerald and Sarah Murphy, and how they start out as a golden couple and end up apart, at least as the novel is structured.  Of course its more complex than that - we start with them as the golden couple, and then flash back to their troubled past- we learn they met in an insane asylum, where he was her doctor.  Then we flash back to their destruction.  I saw something that called this a novel of decay, and it is that, as the perfect two crumble - particularly Dick, who starts as a hero and ends a lost and forgotten man.  Of course, you can’t read it without thinking about Scott and Zelda, which makes it poignant, but also a little unbearably Freudian, or something.

          The first 50 or so pages were particularly tough for me.  Reading all about the Divers and how wonderful they are made me wonder why I was supposed to care about their problems.  But I’ll admit - once we learn their real story, the story takes on a poignance that propelled me through to the end.  I felt for Nicole, and her tragedy, and even for Dick, who deserved some but not all of what happened to him.  I don’t know - Gatsby is so perfect and this seems bloated, but Scott himself said that "Gatsby was a tour de force, but this is a confession of faith," and I can see that, too.  

 Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Re-Read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017