Tender is the Night Author:F. Scott Fitzgerald Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and who... more »se growing strength highlights Dick's harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character -- lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative -- Tender Is the Night, Mabel Dodge Luhan remarked, raised F. Scott Fitzgerald to the heights of "a modern Orpheus." In the novel, Dick is eventually ruined--professionally, emotionally, and spiritually--by his union with Nicole.
Published in 1934, Tender Is the Night was one of the most talked-about books of the year. "It's amazing how excellent much of it is," Ernest Hemingway said to Maxwell Perkins. "I will say now," John O'Hara wrote Fitzgerald, "Tender Is the Night is in the early stages of being my favorite book, even more than This Side of Paradise." And Archibald MacLeish exclaimed: "Great God, Scott...You are a fine writer. Believe it -- not me."
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.
Fitzgerald's fate was not 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."« less