tender is the night, take 2
Again, I eat my words.
I am enjoying Tender is the Night. The beginning seemed indulgent in that it did not stray far from Gatsby land. The beauty of Gatsby is, thatit highlights the working class origins of the american dream. And the portrait juxtaposed by the splenderous opulence of the american upper class. Gatsby is a hero who is admirable as a scrappy visionary, and for his work ethic. We don’t hate him because he succumbs to his dream. We love him because he is a failure and we can relate to him. Literature and pop culture and all that shit worships him because he died the death of a martyr.
Tender is the Night is a different kind of animal. The book’s male hero is a famous psychologist and his wife is (or was) his patient: this piece of information is not revealed until halfway into it. A dynamic is created between the reader and the characters as the reader gets to know (and judges) the characters at the same pace that they get to know each other in the book. On first meeting, the shallow judgmental ticks and grandiose euphoric waves hit as in new friendship.
So Fitzgerald manipulates the shit out of his readers. Ultimately, he is the psychologist and we are his patients. He tests us. He wants us to be lulled into the nonsensical bubble of wealth, travel and gaiety. Listlessness. Mostly, lovely and romantic. but it is also uncomfortable. My immediate distaste can be attributed to current sensitivity in disgust regarding waste and wasted resources. I don’t really know why I kept reading the book… probably because I am stubborn. Thank god for stubbornness sometimes! Except in opposition!
“Abe North was talking to her about his moral code, “of course I’ve got one,” he insisted, “–a man can’t live without a moral code. Mine is that I’m against the burning of witches. Whenever they burn a witch I get all hot under the collar.”
“She agreed to go to a play. It was a tradition between them that they should never be too tired for anything and they found it made the days better on the whole and put the evenings in more order. When, inevitably, their spirits flagged they shifted the blame to the weariness and fatigue of others.”
“We own you, and you’ll admit it sooner or later. It is absurd to keep up the pretense of independence.”
“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.”