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Tender Is the Night Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, June 10, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the wake of World War I, a community of expatriate American writers established itself in the salons and cafes of 1920s Paris. They congregated at Gertrude Stein's select soirees, drank too much, married none too wisely, and wrote volumes--about the war, about the Jazz Age, and often about each other. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, were part of this gang of literary Young Turks, and it was while living in France that Fitzgerald began writing Tender Is the Night. Begun in 1925, the novel was not actually published until 1934. By then, Fitzgerald was back in the States and his marriage was on the rocks, destroyed by Zelda's mental illness and alcoholism. Despite the modernist mandate to keep authors and their creations strictly segregated, it's difficult not to look for parallels between Fitzgerald's private life and the lives of his characters, psychiatrist Dick Diver and his former patient turned wife, Nicole. Certainly the hospital in Switzerland where Zelda was committed in 1929 provided the inspiration for the clinic where Diver meets, treats, and then marries the wealthy Nicole Warren. And Fitzgerald drew both the European locale and many of the characters from places and people he knew from abroad.

In the novel, Dick is eventually ruined--professionally, emotionally, and spiritually--by his union with Nicole. Fitzgerald's fate was not quite so novelistically neat: after Zelda was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and committed, Fitzgerald went to work as a Hollywood screenwriter in 1937 to pay her hospital bills. He died three years later--not melodramatically, like poor Jay Gatsby in his swimming pool, but prosaically, while eating a chocolate bar and reading a newspaper. Of all his novels, Tender Is the Night is arguably the one closest to his heart. As he himself wrote, "Gatsby was a tour de force, but this is a confession of faith." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From 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.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons; Classic Edition edition (June 10, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684830507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684830506
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (402 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 162 people found the following review helpful By nicjaytee on July 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Thought provoking and brilliantly written "Tender is the Night" etches itself into your brain: once read, never forgotten. Longer, looser but more complex and much darker in its subject matter than "The Great Gatsby", Scott Fitzgerald similarly transcends time & place to leave you with quite unforgettable images. For example, describing an open-air dinner party on the Cote d'Azur he writes: "There were fireflies riding on the dark air and a dog baying on some low and far-away ledge of the cliff. The table seemed to have risen a little toward the sky like a mechanical dancing platform, giving the people around it a sense of being alone with each other in the dark universe, nourished by its only food, warmed by its only lights." And, thirty years after first reading that wonderfully evocative description, it's still there: burned-in as a reference-point that follows me around all open-air late night parties... just waiting for that distant bark.

Replete with similar passages, "Tender is the Night" juxtaposes romantic idylls with the personal tragedies surrounding most of its characters, and, in so doing, triumphs in exploring the differences between perception and reality, superficiality versus excess, strength of character versus fear & weakness, and uncontrollable madness versus self-induced self-destruction. Drawing you into a hedonistic world that you would sincerely wish to be part of and then exploding its deficiencies in front of you, it leaves you realising that not all is what it seems.

Closing with a superbly structured final paragraph that ranks as one of the most effective I've ever read - bringing together everything that the book seeks to explore in a few cogently dismissive and understated sentences - this is writing at its very best: compelling, perceptive, complex, timeless and, beneath its superficially "glossy" exterior, very true. If you haven't read it do: it's one of the best books out there.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Great Gatsby is without a single doubt one of the greatest American novels ever written and has well deserved its position as a permanent fixture in American literarture classes. Everyone and their sister had read The Great Gatsby. I personally loved it, but that was before I read Tender is the Night. It touched my heart and got under my skin an infinity more deeply than The Great Gatsby. It is a work that cries with hopelessness, loneliness, and broken dreams.
Tender is the Night chronicles the downfall and eventual ruin of Dick Diver, a smart, handsome pshychiatrist. He has everything in life going for him. He has friends, beautiful children, money, ability, and so much love for his wife Nicole. But this idealistic life can not long endure and Dick's sparkling world soon begins to unravel. Nicole turns out to be a schizophrenic. Though her mental illness has been dormant for years, it begins to resurface, destroying Dick's confidence, optimism, his marriage, and his very life.
Tender is the Night is almost painful in its emotion. Fitzgerald seems to have filled the very pages of the book full of his tears. As this book was written, his own wife Zelda institutionalized as a schizophrenic, making this novel semi-autobiographical. This work is so astounding simply because of the feeling it reveals straight from the heart of its author, making it one of the most intimate portraits I have ever read. Tender is the Night is an absolute masterpiece.
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful By asphlex on August 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I liked Tender is the Night even more than I expected to. As a fan of a few of his other works (notably The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise and The Collected Short Stories), I went into this book with a healthy enthusiasm. . . What I discovered was a story that was painful to watch unfold and one that kept me engaged and interested in what was happening from the first page to the end.

It tells the tale of Dick Diver, his wife Nicole, and numerous other equally complicated individuals who sway in and out of their lives over the years following World War One and just prior to the rise of Adolph Hitler. Americans living in or around Paris and the resort spots of France, these are rich people, people so rich that their money has literally destroyed them. They have become those rare people who don't have to wish for anything physical, whether it comes in the dream of a mansion on a hill in some far away country, a group of friends that includes royalty and movie stars, or sexual conquests with anyone you can even momentarily desire. All their dreams have, or could possibly on a whim, come true. And so there is nothing in this life left for them . . .

It is a sad tale of likable people coming unglued, of seeing their lives destroyed and watching nobody care, regardless of their goodness. It is a story of absolute and utter desolation, finally, as the almost journalistic ending comes at you. It is like falling out of touch with someone who was once the most important person in your life, hearing vague stories about what they are up to and realizing they are getting fainter and fainter and fainter . . .
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70 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Donatien on July 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When faced with a « classic » novel, how do you come to terms with the fact that you don't like it ?
At the risk of being labeled boorish and unsophisticated, I'll take the plunge and say it : I didn't like Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night.
I'd heard of that novel all my life. Expecting a real treat, I decided that it was time I did something about it. May be I was expecting too much.
First disappointment : the style. I know : it's wonderful at times, with moving and enchanting comparisons and metaphors ; flashes of beauty in the night. However, when you stumble across sentences that have to be read two or three times before you can be sure what they mean (and even then...), it spoils your pleasure somewhat.
Second disappointment : the plot. It sounds hollow.
Third disappointment : the characters. Even more hollow than the plot. Hard to identify with poor little rich girls and boys who have never encountered any real problem, setback or suffering in their lives.
Ibsen used to say : "The rich know how to have fun, but they don't know how to be happy".
In Tender is the Night, you wonder if they even know how to have fun.
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