Book Notes: "Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tender Is the NightTender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's pretty clear why FSF is one of the literary greats. However, I find it difficult not to experience his work without feeling the darkness of the Robert Redford movie-version of The Great Gatsby. Tender is the Night keeps the excesses of the Jazz Age alive but with a sense of the impending doom. The ordinariness that culminates in the conclusion made me feel sad for the extraordinariness of the story in Book I, and worry about where my own future will lead. I also find it difficult to read FSF without thinking about Hemingway, even though FSF established himself sometime before the latter. Nonetheless, FSF's characters are more highly developed than Hemingway's, and in many ways FSF's work is much more academic while being somewhat less self-indulgent. At the same time, self-indulgence is not lacking in Tender is the Night. Rather, I think that FSF forces the reader to appear self-indulgent, rather than Hemingway's self-indulgence experienced through the low-visibility narrator who masks the author's modus operandi. Regardless, there is nothing better than alternating between Fitzgerald and Hemingway while getting caught up in the "Lost Generation" set amidst the "Jazz Age". I can't help thinking, too, how much FSF and Hemingway influenced Woody Allen's work, although that is another story. Tender is the Night was a difficult read and well worth the effort, though I doubt I could have understood it had I had less experience with living. Self-indulgent, to be sure, but the experience alone was the highlight of the novel. By way of confirmation, now I must return to Veblen to see how much his Theory of the Leisure Class impacted upon Fitzgerald.

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