Tender Is the Night

When it comes to the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, there is not much debate to be had when it comes crowning achievement. The Great Gatsby is a book that is world renowned, and deservedly so. While Tender Is the Night does not possess the same acclaim, I believe it is still an astounding accomplishment of writing and should be recognized as such.

I will concede, upon starting this book, I was concerned that this work would crumble under the tremendous pressure that comes with having the name ‘Fitzgerald’ attached to it. At first, my skepticism seemed warranted as I saw some scenes I felt were pointless and was confused by some of the actions. It appeared there were some distractedness in the plot, but as I continued I recognized it only as Fitzgerald’s brilliant skill of weaving events in a effective way.

His trademark eloquence is a consistent presence in the novel, and this, coupled with the plot and powerful characters, makes this work an emotionally moving, thought provoking, and worthy read.

I must also report this book took me a few weeks to read, even though I’m embarrassed to say it. In small part, the slow beginning may have been responsible for my not reading more at the start, but I mostly attribute my lack of reading to a busy schedule and consistent distraction. It was a special thrill when I was able to get away and reserve time to reading and diving into the plot of this book. It is a terrific journey, especially once you reach Book II, where it really takes off.

I would always like to do my best not to spoil a book for prospective readers, but maybe by providing some of my favorite quotes from Tender Is the Night, I could entice those who remain on the fence:

This as part of a wonderful character description:

“He won everyone so quickly with an exquisite consideration and politeness that moved so fast and intuitively that it could be examined only in its effect.”

In the midst of a flashback that brings the plot to life:

“In the dead white hours in Zurich staring into a stranger’s pantry across the up-shine of a street-lamp, he used to think that he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit it in.”

One of my favorite parts:

“Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure and the memory so possessed him that for the moment there was nothing to do but to pretend . . .

. . . One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or of the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.”

I will now exercise restraint to prevent myself from sharing too many of the passages and running the risk of spoiling too much. I have written down many parts of this book and reflected in them myself.

I think it will come as no surprise that I highly recommend this book, especially to anybody who has previously appreciated any of Fitzgerald’s work. You will not regret reading this. If you have any struggles in Book I, make sure you preserver to Book II where things are taken to another level.

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