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Thread: Tender is the Night

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by manolia
    In general i prefer linear narration. But i've read many books where non linear narration works well. This was one of them. If the narration was linear the book would have lost the element of surprise.
    Same here, I tend to lean more towards linear narration than non-linear, but the authors who can write non-linear often do it well - Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert seems a great example.
    Quote Originally Posted by manolia
    One thing that was interesting in this book (and in some places it made me giggle too) was the america vs europe conflict. The most striking instance was the medical conference Dick was suppossed to participate in. I like how the narrator describes Dick's thoughts on the matter. How the european professors seem to run the show and make all the decissions and suggestions, expecting valid input from european doctors only (like america has nothing to offer) but the americans are the ones with the necessary funds so the snotty european professors yield in the end.

    Or when the flood of american tourists is described. They are literally everywhere..and especially when Dick goes to Rome and we view the natives from his point of view..he even calls them stinkers (ok, he's in a very bad period of his life so the reader can excuse him).

    Another striking example is Franz and his wife. They need Nicole's american money to buy the clinic..and as we keep reading we realise that they don't even like Nicole (Franz's wife at least). Nicole cringes at any personal contact with that woman and she on her part thinks that Nicole shuns her because she smells bad (and here the unseen narrator says something about american women who are more materialistic than european - that could be true at that particular era since the biggest part of europe was greatly damaged by the war).

    Oh and the incident with the french drunkard cook who is caught drinking Dick's expensive wine? She is at fault and instead of apologising she starts swearing the american couple and their money and how they get to drink France's best wines.

    Or when Franz admits that he thought (when he first met Dick) that Dick was a british guy (because he couldn't believe that such a genious could come from the US).
    Yes, I would not consider myself a 'proud-to-be-American' type these days, yet, even as an American, I could not but help feel slightly offended, and still do, at these stereotypes and stigmas. Fitzgerald himself, in his time, appeared as an unusual American, though one of the leaders of the Jazz Era - most considered him frivolous, materialistic, Hedonistic, yet highly intelligent; unfortunately, his unwise choices during life led him to an early end, too.
    I did not think of it until reading your post that there seems a lot of struggle between nations in this generation of literature - for obvious reasons we see it in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, nearly anything by Ernest Hemginway (mainly Spain, France, and American), France and Russia in War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, the multiple different cultures in Moby Dick by Herman Melville - there seems an assumed prejudice, sometimes violent, sometimes psychological, where everyone sticks up for each other if they own the same origins, but hold true to their assumptions that an American physician 'should not be this intelligent.'
    What a mad world!

  2. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by mono View Post
    Rosemary confused me. To me, she seems one of the main characters in the first part, but ends up more like a Monet painting in the background - something that affects the entire story, alluring by sight, but deceiving once the eyes get near. Once the novel ended, I wondered what happened to her later in life. Living a lavish, Epicurean lifestyle, young, supported by her mother, she reminds me of a spoiled brat who takes much for granted, and does not consider the results of her actions. Perhaps an actress can act well, but not live well.

    Much is made of Rosemary's innocence and the fact that she is impressionable - she sees the Divers the way that they present themselves: as a glamorous, intoxicating, attractive couple. Once the illusion they cast starts to crack and the messiness and imperfections beneath their dazzling exterior begins to show through, Rosemary's perspective is no longer important. She served to show us through young adoring eyes how the Divers were at their height, before Dick's fall, and independent of Nicole's dark past. Rosemary's eyes (in Book 1) allowed us to lap up the glamour of the Divers, while Book 2 and Book 3 expose the superficiality.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThousandthIsle
    Quote Originally Posted by mono
    Rosemary confused me. To me, she seems one of the main characters in the first part, but ends up more like a Monet painting in the background - something that affects the entire story, alluring by sight, but deceiving once the eyes get near. Once the novel ended, I wondered what happened to her later in life. Living a lavish, Epicurean lifestyle, young, supported by her mother, she reminds me of a spoiled brat who takes much for granted, and does not consider the results of her actions. Perhaps an actress can act well, but not live well.
    Much is made of Rosemary's innocence and the fact that she is impressionable - she sees the Divers the way that they present themselves: as a glamorous, intoxicating, attractive couple. Once the illusion they cast starts to crack and the messiness and imperfections beneath their dazzling exterior begins to show through, Rosemary's perspective is no longer important. She served to show us through young adoring eyes how the Divers were at their height, before Dick's fall, and independent of Nicole's dark past. Rosemary's eyes (in Book 1) allowed us to lap up the glamour of the Divers, while Book 2 and Book 3 expose the superficiality.
    Totally agreed, and thanks for your input. With her shallow characteristics, it would seem easy to say that she made the Divers into something similar to idols - things (almost literally things) practically held in such regard as worthy as worship; she never felt satisfied, despite what her mother spoiled her with, and others admired her not for her, but for what she portrayed as an actress. I suppose one can easily see that I detested her character, in fact, everything about her - shallow, frivolous, senseless, and without common sense.

  4. #19
    To the folks who were confused about the first two chapters of "Tender" I'd like to ask which version are you reading? The first time I read the book, in the early 1980s, I read what had been originally published by Scribners and edited a great deal by Max Perkins (if I am not mistaken). The book was chronological rather than in flashback and I remember, while reading it, feeling slightly bored in the first two chapters and thinking something was amiss. Years later I read a SPECIAL EDITION that had the chapters in the way Fitzgerald originally intended (and fought with his editors about) and it started in the "middle of the story" with action and vibrant characters.

    Back then, the editors thought readers would not be able to make the flashback jump. But by the 1970's even Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" was in flashback. So a release of "Tender" had merit. The linear construction was not needed. However, the release of this re-arranged edition was posthumous and may have had some gaps as well.

    "Tender" was not unfinished in the sense that "The Last Tycoon" was an unfinished draft. There were actually too many "cooks in the kitchen" with opinions and editors involved in "Tender." I seem to recall from reading a Brucolli bio on Fitzgerald that "Tender" took longer to write and was a more emotionally painful process. While "Gatsby" is edited tighter (kudos to Max here) "Tender" is a more mature work because the author was more mature at the time.

    **SPOILER***His short story "Head and Shoulders" also featured the wife becoming more successful than the mate (house husbands were uncommon in the 1920s) and I think it showed his sincere desire for Zelda to get well even if it meant him losing his personal power (like Diver).

    Unfortunately we know, from Nancy Mitford's biography "Zelda" that Scott's abusive jerky side when he was drunk snatched back the power and intimidated Zelda in her efforts to write (even though editors and therapists encouraged her). Any positive comments Scott made when sober were wiped out by drunk sarcasm and sometimes physically ripping up her work. He didn't like her writing about their shared experiences but he felt free to mine her diaries for "southern belle" characterizations. So one wonders if he didn't hope, in writing about Nicole, that Zelda would muster up the strength to walk away. However, his loyalty, passion, and Catholic idea of marriage for life meant that he would not be doing the walking. He would remain married to Zelda even while living with Sheila Graham in Hollywood.

    Today's AA, the 12 step program and programs for co-dependent spouses were not readily available in the 1930s, so the idea of detaching from a symbiotic relationship in a healthy way was not yet explored. The Betty Ford clinic did not exist. And so while Fitzgerald could expose and dissect the disease for his audiences, he could not cure it.

  5. #20
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    Iíll start with the reason why I have read this book. It was my task for English classes. Thatís a very peculiar work. Me and my friends at the university we havenít quite understand the ideas, the conflicts, the motivation of some charactersí actions.
    Linear or non linear narration, it doesnít matter, but I expected the conflicts, the problems. I expected that all the events would be complications of the plot, then it would be the climax and denouement. But the story was dull, with many details which have nothing in common with the plotline. maybe, these details reveal the inner world of the characters, but the author did his best to make their inner world uninteresting to me.
    Just a few thoughts about the characters. I suppose, Rosemary didnít fall in love with Dick by the first sight.
    Quote Originally Posted by manolia View Post
    . We don't even know if Rosemary likes being an actress, do we? She shows a bit of reluctance when she is suppossed to meet the director (forgot his name).
    I think, yes. She liked to be an actress, and in life she continued to play. The girl needed strong emotions, so she persuaded herself that she was in love.
    Rosemaryís mother treat her daughter awfully. For her, Rosemary is a future source of money. Of new impressions, too. They both have forgotten that life is not cinema.
    As for Dick, I really donít know what his tragedy is. Was he forced to marry Nicole? Didnít he know about possible consequences, I mean her illness? So he had to admit the responsibility.
    So my general opinion is negative.

  6. #21
    Registered User PoeticPassions's Avatar
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    First of all, I would like to say, I miss mono. Why did he leave us? He hasn't been around for years, but he is still one of my favorite lit-netters to have graced this forum...

    Anyway, I'm sad I did not engage in this discussion while he was still around, because Tender is the Night is my favorite Fitzgerald piece. Dick Diver, as well as Fitzgerald himself, are two of the most interesting figures... I think the novel is a beautiful insight into the self.destructive tendencies of humans as well as a look at desire, beauty, love and morality. Because I loved this book so much, I reread it again less than a year ago... I definitely had a different experience this time. I disliked Rosmary and Nicole quite a bit more, and I felt frustration with Dick...

    And I want to note that I like the non-linearity, the irrationality and the chaos of the novel...
    "All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours." -Aldous Huxley

    "Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires." -William Blake

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticPassions View Post
    Anyway, I'm sad I did not engage in this discussion while he was still around, because Tender is the Night is my favorite Fitzgerald piece. Dick Diver, as well as Fitzgerald himself, are two of the most interesting figures... I think the novel is a beautiful insight into the self.destructive tendencies of humans as well as a look at desire, beauty, love and morality. Because I loved this book so much, I reread it again less than a year ago... I definitely had a different experience this time. I disliked Rosmary and Nicole quite a bit more, and I felt frustration with Dick...

    And I want to note that I like the non-linearity, the irrationality and the chaos of the novel...
    While The Great Gatsby is my favorite book, and Fitzgerald my favorite writer, I too liked this book very much. And I agree with your thoughts about it. I liked Nicole- probably because she had strength at the end. I thought Dick showed awful behavior, but felt sorry for him-especially at the end of the story. That's what I like about Fitzgerald so much, his characters are either so three dimensional, and some are not; their shallowness is presented in slowly unfolding, subtle ways. It is a re-read, and there is one paragraph in that book that is such a perfect, exquisite metaphor. It is beautiful, and has to do with a ship leaving a dock, after Dick had left from his fathers funeral.

  8. #23
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    I read the linear version before I read the non-linear one. It's a great novel either way but the non-linearity makes it more tragic, as we get glimpses backwards into Dick and Nicole's relationship. Dick annoys me a bit but Nicole is one of the best female characters in the 20th century.

  9. #24
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    I just read "Tender is the Night" for the first time. I enjoyed it -- but I also have some major reservations about its quality, despite its critical acclaim. It seems to me that the book "cheats". The Divers (and Rosemary, and Barban) are glamorous because of their situations. They are rich. They hang out with other rich ex-pats on the Riviera, or in Swiss ski resorts. They are beautiful But isn't this the tactic of schlock romance novels? Does Dick,or Rosemary, or Nicole ever come to glamorous life through their actions, or dialogue. None of them says anything witty, or interesting (that I remember). Novels (it seems to me) are essentially "dramatic", owing much to the older literary form. Characters come to life through dialogue -- but that never quite happens in "Tender is the Night". Rosemary's infatuation with Dick seems ungrounded. OK. He's good looking. So are a lot of people.

    In addition, some of the action of the novel seems dated, forced, and tacky. A duel? Come on. A black man murdered who ends up in Rosemary's bed (and is then forgotten, and has nothing to do with the plot of the novel)? The psychology seems dated -- is Nicole really delusional because of incest? That kind of Freudian explanation seems incredible, by modern standards.

    I'm not immune to glamorous fantasies. Who wouldn't want to hang out in ritzy hotels on the Riviera with rich, beautiful ex-pats? But I hope that I would love women for more than their wealth and beauty. I'm reminded of the conversation between Anne Eliot (with whom my sympathy always lies) and her cousin, Mr.Eliot (from Jane Austen's "Persuasion"):

    ...when Anne ventured to speak her opinion of them to Mr. Elliot, he agreed to their being nothing in themselves, but still maintained that, as a family connexion, as good company, as those who would collect good company around them, they had their value. Anne smiled and said --

    "My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."

    "You are mistaken," said he gently; "that is not good company; that is the best. Good company requires only birth, education, and manners, and with regard to education is not very nice. Birth and good manners are essential; but a little learning is by no means a dangerous thing in good company; on the contrary, it will do very well.
    The Divers may be "good company" in Anne's sense -- Dick is supposedly a brilliant psychiatrist. But they never show it in Fitzgerald's novel. They remain "good company" only for Mr. Eliot.
    Last edited by Ecurb; 05-05-2018 at 08:37 AM.

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