Tender Is the Night

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Overview

In Tender Is The Night, Fitzgerald deliberately set out to write the most ambitious and far-reaching novel of his career, experimenting radically with narrative conventions of chronology and point of view and drawing on early breakthroughs in psychiatry to enrich his account of the makeup and breakdown of character and culture.

First published in 1934, Fitzgerald's classic story of psychological disintegration was denounced by many as an unflattering portrayal of ...

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Tender is the Night

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Overview

In Tender Is The Night, Fitzgerald deliberately set out to write the most ambitious and far-reaching novel of his career, experimenting radically with narrative conventions of chronology and point of view and drawing on early breakthroughs in psychiatry to enrich his account of the makeup and breakdown of character and culture.

First published in 1934, Fitzgerald's classic story of psychological disintegration was denounced by many as an unflattering portrayal of Sara and Gerald Murphy (in the guise of characters Dick and Nicole Driver), who had been generous hosts to many expatriates.

Only after Fitzgerald's death was Tender Is the Night recognized as a powerful and moving depiction of the human frailties that affect privileged and ordinary people alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
You can generally count on Naxos to produce superb audios of classics--but not this time. Trevor White gives a dull performance, though he handles conversation and dialogue better than straight narration and is not bad at accents. His emphases are stilted; he drops his voice at the ends of most sentences; and he reads every word so carefully he throws off the rhythms and phrasing, and thus the tone and meaning. A disappointing reading of Fitzgerald's last, most lyrical, most autobiographical novel. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781853260971
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions, Limited
  • Publication date: 12/1/1999

Meet the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott (Key) Fitzgerald's (1896-1940) posthumous literary reputation has remained consistently strong despite many highs and lows throughout his brief life. His best-known novel, The Great Gatsby (1925) remains a critical favorite along with Tender is the Night (1934). Most of Fitzgerald's works are loosely based on his life, including his wife Zelda's insanity and his appreciation for personal indulgence and self-destructive excess.
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    1. Also Known As:
      Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 24, 1896
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Death:
      December 21, 1940

Read an Excerpt

From Book 1 On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed facade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people; a decade ago it was almost deserted after its English clientele went north in April. Now, many bungalows cluster near it, but when this story, begins only the cupolas of a dozen old villas rotted like water lilies among the massed pines between Gausse's Hôtel des Étrangers and Cannes, five miles away.

The hotel and its bright tan prayer rug of a beach were one. In the early morning the distant image of Cannes, the pink and cream of old fortifications, the purple Alp that bounded Italy, were cast across the water and lay quavering in the ripples and rings sent up by sea-plants through the clear shallows. Before eight a man came down to the beach in a blue bathrobe and with much preliminary application to his person of the chilly water, and much grunting and loud breathing, floundered a minute in the sea. When he had gone, beach and bay were quiet for an hour. Merchantmen crawled westward on the horizon; bus boys shouted in the hotel court; the dew dried upon the pines. In another hour the horns of motors began to blow down from the winding road along the low range of the Maures, which separates the littoral from true Provencal France.

A mile from the sea, where pines give way to dusty poplars, is an isolated railroad stop, whence one June morning in 1925 a victoria brought a woman and her daughter down to Gausse's Hotel. The mother's face was of a fading prettiness that would soon be patted with broken veins; her expression was both tranquil and aware in a pleasant way. However, one's eye moved on quickly to her daughter, who had magic in her pink palms and her cheeks lit to a lovely flame, like the thrilling flush of children after their cold baths in the evening. Her fine forehead sloped gently up to where her hair, bordering it like an armorial shield, burst into lovelocks and waves and curlicues of ash blonde and gold. Her eyes were bright, big, clear, wet, and shining, the color of her cheeks was real, breaking close to the surface from the strong young pump of her heart. Her body hovered delicately on the last edge of childhood -- she was almost eighteen, nearly complete, but the dew was still on her.

As sea and sky appeared below them in a thin, hot line the mother said:

"Something tells me we're not going to like this place."

"I want to go home anyhow," the girl answered.

They both spoke cheerfully but were obviously without direction and bored by the fact -- moreover, just any direction would not do. They wanted high excitement, not from the necessity of stimulating jaded nerves but with the avidity of prize-winning schoolchildren who deserved their vacations.

"We'll stay three days and then go home. I'll wire right away for steamer tickets."

At the hotel the girl made the reservation in idiomatic but rather flat French, like something remembered. When they were installed on the ground floor she walked into the glare of the French windows and out a few steps onto the stone veranda that ran the length of the hotel. When she walked she carried herself like a ballet-dancer, not slumped down on her hips but held up in the small of her back. Out there the hot light clipped close her shadow and she retreated -- it was too bright to see. Fifty yards away the Mediterranean yielded up its pigments, moment by moment, to the brutal sunshine: below the balustrade a faded Buick cooked on the hotel drive.

Indeed, of all the region only the beach stirred with activity. Three British nannies sat knitting the slow pattern of Victorian England, the pattern of the forties, the sixties, and the eighties, into sweaters and socks, to the tune of gossip as formalized as incantation; closer to the sea a dozen persons kept house under striped umbrellas, while their dozen children pursued unintimidated fish through the shallows or lay naked and glistening with cocoanut oil out in the sun.

As Rosemary came onto the beach a boy of twelve ran past her and dashed into the sea with exultant cries. Feeling the impactive scrutiny of strange faces, she took off her bathrobe and followed. She floated face down for a few yards and finding it shallow staggered to her feet and plodded forward, dragging slim legs like weights against the resistance of the water. When it was about breast high, she glanced back toward shore: a bald man in a monocle and a pair of tights, his tufted chest thrown out, his brash navel sucked in, was regarding her attentively. As Rosemary returned the gaze the man dislodged the monocle, which went into hiding amid the facetious whiskers of his chest, and poured himself a glass of something from a bottle in his hand.

Rosemary laid her face on the water and swam a choppy little four-beat crawl out to the raft. The water reached up for her, pulled her down tenderly out of the heat, seeped in her hair and ran into the corners of her body. She turned round and round in it, embracing it, wallowing in it. Reaching the raft she was out of breath, but a tanned woman with very white teeth looked down at her, and Rosemary, suddenly conscious of the raw whiteness of her own body, turned on her back and drifted toward shore. The hairy man holding the bottle spoke to her as she came out.

"I say -- they have sharks out behind the raft." He was of indeterminate nationality, but spoke English with a slow Oxford drawl. "Yesterday they devoured two British sailors from the flotte at Golfe Juan."

"Heavens!" exclaimed Rosemary.

"They come in for the refuse from the flotte."

Glazing his eyes to indicate that he had only spoken in order to warn her, he minced off two steps and poured himself another drink.

Not unpleasantly self-conscious, since there had been a slight sway of attention toward her during this conversation, Rosemary looked for a place to sit. Obviously each family possessed the strip of sand immediately in front of its umbrella; besides there was much visiting and talking back and forth -- the atmosphere of a community upon which it would be presumptuous to intrude. Farther up, where the beach was strewn with pebbles and dead sea-weed, sat a group with flesh as white as her own. They lay under small hand-parasols instead of beach umbrellas and were obviously less indigenous to the place. Between the dark people and the light, Rosemary found room and spread out her peignoir on the sand.

Lying so, she first heard their voices and felt their feet skirt her body and their shapes pass between the sun and herself. The breath of an inquisitive dog blew warm and nervous on her neck; she could feel her skin broiling a little in the heat and hear the small exhausted wa-waa of the expiring waves. Presently her ear distinguished individual voices and she became aware that some one referred to scornfully as "that North guy" had kidnapped a waiter from a cafe in Cannes last night in order to saw him in two. The sponsor of the story was a white-haired woman in full evening dress, obviously a relic of the previous evening, for a tiara still clung to her head and a discouraged orchid expired from her shoulder. Rosemary, forming a vague antipathy to her and her companions, turned away.

Nearest her, on the other side, a young woman lay under a roof of umbrellas making out a list of things from a book open on the sand. Her bathing suit was pulled off her shoulders and her back, a ruddy, orange brown, set off by a string of creamy pearls, shone in the sun. Her face was hard and lovely and pitiful. Her eyes met Rosemary's but did not see her. Beyond her was a fine man in a jockey cap and red-striped tights; then the woman Rosemary had seen on the raft, and who looked back at her, seeing her; then a man with a long face and a golden, leonine head, with blue tights and no hat, talking very seriously to an unmistakably Latin young man in black tights, both of them picking at little pieces of seaweed in the sand. She thought they were mostly Americans, but something made them unlike the Americans she had known of late.

After a while she realized that the man in the jockey cap was giving a quiet little performance for this group; he moved gravely about with a rake, ostensibly removing gravel and meanwhile developing some esoteric burlesque held in suspension by his grave face. Its faintest ramification had become hilarious, until whatever he said released a burst of laughter. Even those who, like herself, were too far away to hear, sent out antennae of attention until the only person on the beach not caught up in it was the young woman with the string of pearls. Perhaps from modesty of possession she responded to each salvo of amusement by bending closer over her list.

The man of the monocle and bottle spoke suddenly out of the sky above Rosemary.

"You are a ripping swimmer."

She demurred.

"Jolly good. My name is Campion. Here is a lady who says she saw you in Sorrento last week and knows who you are and would so like to meet you."

Glancing around with concealed annoyance Rosemary saw the untanned people were waiting. Reluctantly she got up and went over to them.

"Mrs. Abrams -- Mrs. McKisco -- Mr. McKisco -- Mr. Dumphry --"

"We know who you are," spoke up the woman in evening dress. "You're Rosemary Hoyt and I recognized you in Sorrento and asked the hotel clerk and we all think you're perfectly marvellous and we want to know why you're not back in America making another marvellous moving picture."

They made a superfluous gesture of moving over for her. The woman who had recognized her was not a Jewess, despite her name. She was one of those elderly "good sports" preserved by an imperviousness to experience and a good digestion into another generation.

"We wanted to warn you about getting burned the first day," she continued cheerily, "because your skin is important, but there seems to be so darn much formality on this beach that we didn't know whether you'd mind."

Copyright © 1933, 1934 by Charles Scribner's Sons

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Table of Contents

Chronology of composition; Introduction; Tender Is the Night; Record of variants; Explanatory notes; Illustrations.

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Customer Reviews

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( 69 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    Dark romantic tragedy

    It should be strictly suggested to those who can fully appreciate the psycological undercurrent of the work. If you understood Warton's Ethan Frome's emotional bearing, then proceed with care in this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2005

    Tender is the Night

    Finally I have finished this book. This book is a good one but I didn't understand French so I had to leave some of it . F. Scott Fitzgerald did a great job. This book is really slow and it gets confusing towards the middle. But somehow I managed to get through this book. I would recommend you to read this book. You will like it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2003

    i highly recommend this!

    after reading Gatsby, i just had to have more! Tender is the Night was truly a great book, so much excitement, i just loved it! F. Scott sure knows how to draw in the reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2003

    Convoluted drivel

    I have truly come to believe that you either love Fitzgerald's work or don't. I seem to fall in the latter category. I read Gatsby years ago, and didn't care for it. A friend recommended this novel, claiming it was a better read. The first 100 pages are so convoluted, that reading it grew tiresome. The second half seemed as though it were written by a different author, the prose and dialogue are more concise. With the exception of Dick Diver, there is no other likeable character in this novel. In my opinion, Fitzgerald's writing is fused with an odd detachment, which overall, serves as a hinderance when you want to more about the characters he's created. You never truly empathize with them and that fact prevented me from enjoying it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2003

    Fitzgerald: Superb as usual!

    This is one of the most underrated novels I have ever had a chance to attach my eyes to. I know it was on the list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, but that's about all of the recognition I hear for this book. I picked it up, still under the charm of his Gatsby, and found myself involved in one of the finest and most enjoyable reads of my life! It seems that you could pick any random line from this novel and ask anybody to rewrite it, and it wouldn't be half as good. That's how good the novel is, not a wasted word in print. Fitzgerald truly is a cut above the rest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    'First the Morale Goes, then the Manners.'

    Tender Is the Night is one of the most interesting examples in 20th century fiction of reversing the usual social metaphors. Dr. Dick Diver, a psychiatrist, is examined as a case of mental health. He is also placed in a classic woman's role, that of the desired, amiable beauty sought after by all and sundry. These juxtapositions of the usual social perspectives allow the reader to touch closer to the realities of human need and connection, by piercing our assumptions about what is 'right and proper.' The story begins from the perspective of Rosemary Hoyt, an 18-year-old motion picture star, recuperating on the Rivera. One day she goes to the beach and becomes entranced by the Divers, Dick and Nicole, a golden couple with whom she immediately falls in love. Beautiful, young, rich, and looking for adventure, she quickly sets out to capture Dick who is the most wonderful person she has ever met. Later, the story shifts to Dick's perspective and traces back to the beginnings of his marriage to Nicole. She had formed an accidental attachment to him (a classic psychiatric transference) while residing in a mental hospital. He returned her friendship, and found it impossible to break her heart. They married, and he played the role of at-home psychiatrist tending her schizophrenia. All went well for years, but gradually he became weary of his role. His weariness causes him to re-evaluate his views on life . . . and the psychological profile of Dr. Diver, charming bon vivant, begins. The tale is a remarkably modern one, even if it was set in the 1920s. Fitzgerald deeply investigates the meanings of love, humanity, and connection. In so doing, he uncovers some of the strongest and most vile of human passions, and makes fundamental commentaries about the futility of fighting against human nature. The result is a particularly bleak view of life, in which the tenders may end up more injured by life than those they tend. What good is it to please everyone else, if they offend rather than please you instead? The character portrayals of Rosemary Hoyt, Dick Diver, and Nicole Diver are remarkably finely drawn. I can remember no other book where three such interesting characters are so well developed. You will feel like each of them is an old friend by the time the novel ends. If you have ever had the chance to read Freud, the novel will remind you of his writings. There is the same fine literary hand, the succinctness and clarity of expression, and the remorseless directness of looking straight at the unpleasant. I felt like I was reading Freud rather than Fitzgerald in many sections. This book should open up your mind to thinking about which social conventions you observe that leave you uncomfortable . . . or which are in contradiction to your own nature. Having surfaced those misfitting parts of your life, I suggest that you consider how you could shift your observation of conventions to make them more meaningful and emotionally rewarding for you. Be considerate because it pleases you to be, not as a ruse to obtain love! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2001

    Armed with the pen

    When Fitzgerald took to writing Tender is the Night, how it must have appeared to be an impossible task. How might one parlay personal trying experiences on the Riviera into a universal novel, while at the same time reaching the level that readers had come to expect of the author of Gatsby and This Side of Paradise. Yet, Fitzgeral conquers all with his magnificent writing, as even the most attentive of readers will have to reread passages to comprehend the conveyed nuance of Fitzgerld's eveolved and layered narrative. It is slightly different state of reading thean the 'active reader' required by Camus in stranger and the confused reader created by Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. In a strange circumstance of events, Tender is the Night is the first Fitzgeral novel I have read and I look forward to reading his other works with great enthusiasm.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 1999

    As good as Gatsby

    This title is sadly too often overlooked in favor of the much more well known Great Gatsby. This novel offers just as compelling characters and juicy plot twists. This edition preserves Fitzgerald's intended order of events in the book -- his editors opted for a chronological order that actually hinders the early editions.

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