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Mutatis-Mutandis
02-06-2010, 06:44 PM
I'm just wanting to know what everyone thinks about the assertion that Fitzgerald is a tough writer, as in hard to read. I read The Great Gatsby and now Tender is the Night (about a third of the way through, so no spoilers please, haha), and his prose just seems to get me lost every now and then. I think it's just because of his beautifully elegant descriptions; Fitzgerald takes the idea of "show, don't tell" to its highest level, even in the dialogue. Rarely does a character ever say something that makes the reader understand something better, it's usually the opposite.

So, I guess I'm asking, is this common for Fitzgerald? I guess I'm just letting my insecurity show, but I'm curious. And, to be clear, I'm really enjoying Tender is the Night--I like, what is to me, the challenging prose. His amazing writing style is enough to really like the book even if it is a romance story, which just isn't my thing (and, yes, I do realize it is much deeper than "just a love story").

mayneverhave
02-06-2010, 07:06 PM
As far as novelists go, Fitzgerald doesn't have much of a reputation as being difficult. I can't recall any point in The Great Gatsby that was particularly difficult to get through except perhaps the one catalogue of all Gatsby's guests, which was more boring than difficult.

Compared to his contemporaries (Proust, Joyce, Faulkner, Eliot, Pound, too name just a few), Fitzgerald is probably one of the easiest.

What about his prose do you find difficult?

Mutatis-Mutandis
02-06-2010, 07:22 PM
I have a perfect example. In Tender is the Night, I found the part about Dick and Rosemary going to the very modern party very confusing, and also the section that concerns Abe North and him getting robbed--I honestly didn't get that section at all until I read Sparknotes. I mean, I don't read it and go, "what just happened?" For the section about the party, I picked up on how Rosemary was uncomfortable and the people were, for lack of a better word, dickish, but if Dick (or the writing) ever said it was a party, I missed it. And I couldn't picture the environment of the party at all. And the part with Abe North, from the book I didn't get that he had been robbed, or who Freeman was or why he was there, or his involvement in the story (aside from he was in trouble and Abe was trying to help him). It was like all of a sidden freeman was introduced, and it seemed like I, as the reader, was expected to know who he was. And I am reading it at night, though, when I'm getting tired. That doesn't help.

I completely agree, though; when compared to his contemporaries, he is much easier (I find Hemingway much easier, though . . . sometimes overly simplistic, though that is the point of his style), but I still run into issues, like what I described. I seem to be having a harder time understanding Tender is the Night than I did with The Great Gatsby. I also read The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I found that a very easy read.

Brad Coelho
02-06-2010, 07:57 PM
The party scene was fairly ambiguous- I remember the perspective from Rosemary, her deliberate discomfort. So from a young, naive set of eyes, we feel overwhelmed, confused and out of place. It also demonstrates the frank cracks in their relationship, with Dick having the older, mature and seemingly more put together hand at that phase of the novel. The details of the actual atmosphere were fairly irrelevant.

He throws a curve to start the book too, beginning w/ Rosemary and allowing the book to morph into its more central focus. Tender, in general, was the most emotional of his books, and perhaps a tad chaotic at times.

Hemingway is by far the easiest and most accessible of the Lost Generation. Fitzgerald's prose can be beautifully poetic, but he runs into some moments where I can understand you finding it verbose to the point of blurring the substance (not unlike Faulkner).

Mutatis-Mutandis
02-07-2010, 05:15 PM
Last night I read the part that goes back and looks at how Dick first encountered Nicole. I had absolutely no problems at all understanding anything in that section.

myrna22
02-08-2010, 03:16 AM
I'm just wanting to know what everyone thinks about the assertion that Fitzgerald is a tough writer, as in hard to read. I read The Great Gatsby and now Tender is the Night (about a third of the way through, so no spoilers please, haha), and his prose just seems to get me lost every now and then. I think it's just because of his beautifully elegant descriptions; Fitzgerald takes the idea of "show, don't tell" to its highest level, even in the dialogue. Rarely does a character ever say something that makes the reader understand something better, it's usually the opposite.

So, I guess I'm asking, is this common for Fitzgerald? I guess I'm just letting my insecurity show, but I'm curious. And, to be clear, I'm really enjoying Tender is the Night--I like, what is to me, the challenging prose. His amazing writing style is enough to really like the book even if it is a romance story, which just isn't my thing (and, yes, I do realize it is much deeper than "just a love story").

I have never found Fitzgerald challenging. Perhaps it is getting used to his style? You might consider reading some of his short stories. Try "Tales of the Jazz Age" A collection of his stories. He began as a short story writer, publishing in magazines, such at the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly.

soundofmusic
02-08-2010, 04:06 AM
There are alot of things that may make Fitzgeralds work difficult to understand:

1. It is mostly autobiographical, so he is explaining his take on situations he and Zelda got themselves into and then the real life responses of friends

2. Fitzgerald was published and edited by a friend; I don't think it was really looked over with a fine toothed comb.

3. Fitzgerald used his and Zeldas diaries, worked on the chapters, often rewrote them over several years

4. Fitzgeralds friends began to complain about his putting them in his books and he had many last minute changes to characters.

5. He often mixed his own character with others he admired as in Tycoon...

6. Fitzgerald was chronically depressed, drank too much and had several collapses over the years. When writing Tycoon, he was severly ill and living pretty much on a case of coca-cola each day.

kelby_lake
02-08-2010, 01:26 PM
They're not that hard to understand though.

Mutatis-Mutandis
02-08-2010, 01:53 PM
I think they're super-easy, I was just screwing with all of you. A kindergartner could read Tender is the Night!

kelby_lake
02-08-2010, 03:27 PM
I think they're super-easy, I was just screwing with all of you. A kindergartner could read Tender is the Night!


How bizarre...and I'm not sure they'd like the incest bit lol

soundofmusic
02-08-2010, 04:14 PM
How bizarre...and I'm not sure they'd like the incest bit lol

Okay, it's been a really long time since I read Tender 4 or 5 times; but what incest:blush2:


They're not that hard to understand though.

I think that if a person tries to heavily analyze his work, it can be difficult.
It reminds me of all those school tests where everyone got 100% and I was sitting there thinking, "oh no, in this situation, all of these answers could be correct..:willy_nilly:

Scheherazade
02-08-2010, 06:08 PM
Okay, it's been a really long time since I read Tender 4 or 5 times; but what incest:blush2:I think someone is ready for another read! :p

Incest is a big part of Tender.

This is one of my favorite books; if you nominated it for one of the Book Club readings, I wouldn't mind voting for it and reading again.

:)

hoope
02-08-2010, 07:12 PM
They're not that hard to understand though.

Yea i agree with you ... talking about the Great Gatsby .. it not that hard to to read.. and Fitzgerald's way made it sound more like a classic novel which really attracted me and many readers .

Mutatis-Mutandis
02-08-2010, 11:20 PM
Great Gatsby wasn't hard for me. Certain sections (the ones I described) in Tender is the Night were, but I haven't run into any problems since then, except for having to look up words in the dictionary.

kelby_lake
02-09-2010, 11:00 AM
Okay, it's been a really long time since I read Tender 4 or 5 times; but what incest:blush2:


The relationship between Nicole and her father

Patrick_Bateman
04-03-2011, 12:47 PM
I wouldn't say he was difficult but he's a writer who sometimes requires you to read a line or two a couple of times. I don't think I ever had trouble understanding what was being said. There's a slight similarity to Norman Mailer's hypnotic style of writing in "An American Dream" though it is not quite as potent.

Buh4Bee
06-10-2011, 09:03 PM
MM, I think Book I is the more challenging of the three books. I found that I'd read a part as if I was walking through fog, especially at 10:30 after teaching for a good deal of the day. I found when I went back and reread the part, it was much more clear. Fitzgerald writes beautiful prose. I was particularly struck by his description of Switzerland. It was breath taking and very vivid. I think his writing can be a little inconsistent at times. Why is Gatsby so clear and his other books less so? Just a thought.