Monday, 19 November 2012

Bliss Culture : Tender Is The Night

My well used and loved copy of Tender is the Night - Photo by Heather Woods

Do you have a favourite fiction book that you just can't get rid of? even though you have read it over and over and know it almost word for word? You know the one, that when you are de-cluttering your wares it preciously gets placed on your 'definitely to keep' pile. I actually have a few of those but one I keep getting drawn back to is 'Tender is the Night' by the famed author F. Scott Fitzgerald. For some reason I always find myself reading this glamorous yet tragic drama during summer. It seems to be my go to book for the beach, maybe because it is set in the French  Riviera during the roaring 1920's. a time and place that captivates me completely.

'Tender is the Night' is centred around the ever so chic Dick and Nicole Diver who are not at all as they seem to the flamboyant and exuberant people that surround them. The tumultuous marriage and unprincipled  relationship of the Divers is highlighted by the interactions between them and their companions and the constant soirees linking them all. Everything begins to unravel with the entrance of the beautiful young starlet Rosemary Hoyt , who falls desperately in love with Dick and is completely enraptured by Nicole. As Rosemary encounters a raw coming of age through her entangled love affair with Dick; Dick and his marriage descends into hopeless chaos revealing haunting and dark secrets of his and Nicole's past.

This classic novel explores the consequences of being blind sighted by temptations of fancy and the ethical compromises of marriage. Through the relationships that develop and dissolve, we are shown the affect of a weakened sense of loyalty to the decisions of ones past as apposed to the assumed thrill of infidelity.


Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald with their daughter Scottie. Photo source Tumblr

Adding to the allure of this novel is the fact it is widely believed to be somewhat autobiographical. The family photo of the famous couple above has an eerie reflection of scenes from 'Tender is the Night'. Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald are known as the iconic couple that personified the roaring 1920's. At the height of prohibition they danced the Charleston non stop through a drunken haze and frolicked their way through Europe. This behaviour and debouched lifestyle was not unlike that of Dick and Nicole Diver in 'Tender is the Night' They both flirted whenever they could, constantly tried to shock and out do one another, were jealous of each others conquests and had violent and vengeful public fights, just like Dick and Nicole. It is well known too, that Fitzgerald read Zelda's diaries to gain inspiration for his work. When Zelda was asked about this very topic by the New York Herald Tribune she replied "Mr Fitzgerald believes plagiarism begins at home". 

It is often the story's behind the story or the author that I find intriguing and fascinating, which is likely to be what has drawn me to this one. Do you have a favourite novel that you turn to often or can't bear to part with?


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